Best Practices – To Reach Beyond

Whoever touches the life of the child touches the most sensitive point of a whole which has roots in the most distant past and climbs toward the infinite future.Dr Maria Montessori

Dr Montessori felt that the main purpose of education is to help each child reach his or her highest potential. To this end, we aim to inspire our students to reach beyond the boundaries of conventional education standards by helping them pursue the path that makes us all human – the desire to learn, discover, explore, create and manifest beyond our wildest imagination!

This includes fostering a sense of social responsibility through character education. Students at our school extend their activities beyond mere academics and self-interest. They take part in community building, locally and globally, fundraising for such charities as the Food Bank, Terry Fox Run, Share Family and Community Services and Free the Children. In 2008, our elementary students began their ongoing sponsorship to clothe, feed, house and educate an impoverished child in Nepal and continues to do so to this day! They also established a “Green Team”, whose activities include the cleaning up of the city’s shorelines and parks, as well research and projects on environmental awareness and protection.

We are committed to:

  • Professional excellence in support of AMI principles
  • Community and partnership among staff and families
  • Beautiful, functional, and safe facilities meeting the needs of our entire school community
  • Diversity to enhance the educational and social experience
  • Compassion in action, leading by example
  • Financial integrity while keeping tuition affordable

We guide each child as unique individuals in making this all important journey of discovery; manifesting the vision of Dr Montessori, right here, right now, as they reach beyond.

BEST PRACTICES

Since Montessori is a word in the public domain, it is possible for any individual or institution to claim to be Montessori. At Lions Gate, we aim to provide our families with an authentic Montessori experience by adhering to best practices as follows:

  1. Child-Centered Environment: The focus of activity in our Montessori setting is on children learning based on their abilities and interests. Generally, students will work individually or in small, self-selected groups with very few whole class lessons.
  2. Responsive Prepared Environment: The environment is designed to meet the needs, interests, abilities, and development of the children in the class. Our educators design and adapt the environment with this community of children in mind, modifying the selection of educational materials available, the physical layout, and the tone of the class to best fit the ever changing needs of the children.
  3. Focus on Individual Progress and Development: Within a Montessori environment, children progress at their own pace, moving on to the next step in each area of learning as they are each ready to do so. While the child lives within a larger community of children, each student is viewed as a universe of one.
  4. Hands-On Learning: In a Montessori learning environment, students rarely learn exclusively from texts or workbooks. We believe that direct, personal hands-on contact with either real things under study or with concrete learning materials that bring abstract concepts to life allow children to learn with much deeper understanding.
  5. Spontaneous Activity: It is natural for children to talk, move, touch things, and explore the world around them. An authentic Montessori environment encourages children to move about freely, within reasonable limits of appropriate behavior. Much of the time, students select work that has been presented to them individually and which captures their interest and attention. However, the Montessori educator also strives to draw their attention and capture their interest in new challenges and areas of inquiry. Within this atmosphere of spontaneous activity, students will eventually master skills of their culture.
  6. Active Learning: At our school, children not only select their own work from the choices presented to them but also continue to work with tasks, returning to continue their work over many weeks or months. Upon gaining proficiency, they become mentors by demonstrating the skill to younger children. This is one of many ways that Montessori educators use to confirm that students have reached mastery of each skill.
  7. Self-motivated Activity: One of Montessori’s key concepts is the idea that children are driven by their desire to become independent and competent beings in the world to learn new things and master new skills. For this reason, outside rewards to create external motivation are both unnecessary and potentially can lead to passive adults who are dependent on others for everything from their self-image to permission to follow their dreams. In the process of making independent choices and exploring concepts largely on their own, Montessori children construct their own sense of individual identity and personal judgment of right and wrong.
  8. Freedom Within Limits: Montessori children enjoy considerable freedom of movement and choice; however, their freedom exists within carefully defined limits on the range of their behavior. They are free to do anything appropriate to the ground rules of the community but redirected promptly and firmly if they cross over the line.
  9. Self-disciplined Learning: In Montessori programs, children do not work for grades or external rewards, nor do they simply complete assignments given them by their Montessori educators. Children learn because they are interested in things and because all children share a desire to become competent and independent human beings.
  10. Mixed age groups: Montessori learning environments gather together children of three or more age levels into a family group. Children remain together for several years, with the fully developed students moving on to the next age grouping when they demonstrate readiness to do so.
  11. A Family Setting: Montessori learning environments are communities of children and adults. As children grow older and more capable, they assume a great role in helping to care for the environment and meet the needs of younger children in the class. The focus is less on the educators and more on the entire community of children and adults, much like one finds in a real family.
  12. Cooperation and Collaboration Rather Than Competition: Montessori children are encouraged to treat one another with kindness and respect. Children grow with a great fondness for one another and are free from needless interpersonal competition for attention and prestige. Because children learn at their own pace, Montessori educators refrain from comparing students against one another.
  13. The Child As A Spiritual Being: Montessori saw children as far more than simply scholars. In her view, each child is a full and complete human being, the mother or father of the adult man or woman he or she will become. Even when very young, the child shares with the rest of humanity personal hopes, dreams, and fears, emotions, and longing. From Montessori’s perspective, this goes beyond mental health to the very core of one’s inner spiritual life. Montessori educators consciously design social communities and educational experiences that cultivate the child’s sense of independence, self-respect, love of peace, passion for self-chosen work done well.
  14. Universal Values: Our educators deliberately develop in children not only appropriate patterns of polite behavior but seek to instill basic universal values within the core of the child’s personality. These values include self-respect, acceptance of the uniqueness and dignity of each person we meet, kindness, peacefulness, compassion, empathy, honor, individual responsibility, and courage to speak from our hearts.
  15. Global Understanding: All Montessori schools are, to a large degree, international schools. We tend to attract a diverse student body representing many ethnic backgrounds, religions, and international backgrounds, and actively celebrate their diversity. The curriculum is international in its heritage as well as focus, and consciously seeks to promote a global perspective.
  16. Service to Others: Montessori’s spiritual perspective leads Montessori schools to consciously organize programs of community service ranging from daily contributions to others within the class or school setting to community outreach programs that allow children and adults to make a difference in the lives of others. The fundamental idea is one of stewardship.
  17. Authoritative: Our educators are firm at the edges and empathetic at the center. They respond empathetically to children’s feelings while setting clear and consistent limits.
  18. Observation: Our educators spend a considerable time observing our students’ learning and behavior. These careful observations are recorded and used to infer where each student is in terms of his or her development and leads our educators to know when to intervene in the child’s learning with allowing more practice time, making a presentation of a new lesson, a fresh challenge, or a reinforcement of basic ground-rules.
  19. Role Models: Montessori educators are, first and foremost, role models who deliberately practice the behaviors and attitudes that he or she is working to instill in the children. They facilitate the learning process by serving as a resource or caring mentor to whom the children can turn as they pull together information, impressions, and experiences.
  20. Character Development: Our emphasis is on character development. Our classes are practice societies where students develop ethics, life skills, conflict resolution and the like in a real-life, mixed-age environment.
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