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Montessori Garden Gate School

63 Sandy Lane
Walnut Creek, CA 94597

(925) 943-7484


Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Montessori

Curriculum & Teaching Approach

Learning Philosophy & Tools

  Play- based mostly teacher led not formally in curriculum conducive environment
Language       more

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  • Tracing paper and other writing instruments
  • A well-stocked bookcase
  • Full compliment of Montessori literacy sandpaper letters and objects, word building with moveable alphabet, word reading boxes, little readers, handwriting practice booklets, etc.
Oral language  
Nursery rhymes, poems, songs  
Storybook reading  
Emerging literacy skills  
Cognitive development
Math & number sense more

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  • Puzzles
  • Montessori manipulatives from simple one-to one correspondence through place value, fractions, etc. Well sequenced, hands on learning, individualized pacing through the materials.
Time & space more

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  • Calendars and clocks
  • Parquetry blocks, pegboards, and mosaic toys
  • Maps
  • Building blocks
Sci. reasoning/physical world more

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  • A place for science activities such as growing plants
  • Pets for children to watch and care for
  • Garden and pond environment, bright sunny classrooms with views of the outdoors, much wildlife because of the pond and garden (egrets, herons, kingfishers, etc. etc.)
Music more

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  • Musical instruments
Visual arts more

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  • Materials such as paint, ink, paintbrushes, crayons, markers, chalk, paper, etc.
Physical activity more

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  • A playground with climbing equipment
  • Bean bags, balls, and other objects that children can throw, kick, and play
  • Enough room for children to move around and play and a suitable indoor alternative to the outdoor playground on rainy days
  • Sandboxes and/or water stations for play
  • Gardening, pond walks, gross motor practical life activities such as window washing, table scrubbing, mirror polishing, sweeping, mopping, dish washing, etc.
Other subjects taught

From the Director:

In Montessori education we present new concepts either in a group or to individuals, and then leave the children free to practice alone with the materials provided. Nothing is entirely play based or teacher led. There is an ebb and flow between teacher (or peer) instruction in the use of materials or presentation of a concept, and independent child activity.

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

Montessori education is entirely individualized. Every child is given what that particular child needs for his or her optimum development. Teachers and experienced students model respect and compassion for others and acceptance of our individual differences.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

"The children's environment and it's continually changing learning materials are designed for development of the child's intellectual, social, emotional, and physical wholeness. We offer children the experience of choosing meaningful activities that inspire a delight in learning, independence, self-esteem, a sense of beauty and order, and problem-solving. Our class is designed to continually meet the changing developmental needs of its students"
Excerpted from the preschool's website

A Typical Day

Our morning begins in the garden play area where nature abounds and children have a rich variety of large motor activity from which to choose. A thirty minute outside time is followed by a circle time in which we greet the new day and one another with a song. We do community jobs, such as the calendar and feeding the fish, have conversations and sometimes introduce something that is new in the classroom. The children then choose from amongst a vast array of well designed learning materials in all areas of learning. Teachers act as mentors and guides to help children find self fulfilling, appropriate work. Child's work is child's play in Montessori education. Through their activity in relationship to the materials the children are developing an inner foundation for learning and a respectful attitude toward others and their world.
After this "work period" Children gather once again for music, movement and/or literature or presentation of new science concepts and materials. Most children remain for lunch in the garden gazebo with their friends.

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

At registration, Garden Gate gives new parents the book "Montessori Insights for Parents" . We refer to this book and provide another school published booklet at our annual parent evening in October for new families The topic of this meeting is "Creating a Bridge Between Home and School," and addresses how parents can foster optimum development in their children at home.

Parents are also given an annual subscription to "Tomorrow's Child", the magazine for parents published by the Montessori Foundation. We provide three thorough progress reports on every child each school year, and hold parent teacher conferences in February. Garden Gate subscribes to Montessori Records Express, an online record keeping system for recording student observations and generating meaningful, concise reports for parents. We speak regularly with parents about their children on an informal basis at drop off and pick up times in the garden.


Separation is Handled through:

  • Pre-entry meetings with parents at school
  • Small group sessions

Handling Separation: From the Director

At the start of the year, we have a phase-in schedule that allows children to attend class with just half a class the first day of school. We ask that school attendance not be the child's first separation experience, and that the child have sitter experience prior to starting school. Beyond that, we ask that parents remain at school a few minutes each day until their child is either ready to say good-bye, or has at least had a chance to get to know us before being asked to say "good-bye." After that, we ask parents to be ready to leave once their child is familiar with his new teachers and friends, generally within four school days. Parents who stay at school initially are given guidance from the teachers in how to be present while allowing their child the optimum opportunity for independence within the school environment. Garden Gate asks parents to give their children some other sitter experience before starting school.