Mercer Island Montessori is guided by the philosophy of Maria Montessori, a pioneer in the development of early childhood education. Montessori's scientific observations of children led to her revolutionary discoveries about the development of young children. Montessori found that children were drawn to order, movement, and sensorial exploration. When children were engaged in meaningful work that included these elements, they exhibited concentration and joy in learning.
Mercer Island Montessori offers children many opportunities to learn through interaction with the Montessori environment. Children are allowed to choose any work for which they know the purpose and to fully engage in that activity until they are satisfied with their experience. Control of error and an opportunity for discovery is built into many of the montessori materials.
The non-competitive, mixed-age classroom offers children an environment where they are part of a community that works together!
A child's day begins at 9:00 am when they arrive at school. Ms. Jennifer greets them at the gate and walks the children around to the classroom. As they enter the classroom, they take off their shoes, put on their slippers, and wash their hands in preparation for their day. Ms. Susan is on hand to greet them and to help anyone with these tasks.
After they have washed their hands, many children take a few moments to talk to their friends who are also arriving. Once they have entered the classroom area, many children go straight to the shelves to select a work that they would like to do that day. Those who are undecided, may look around or join a group game. One group game that is popular is I-spy. A tray with a dozen or so items (usually around a theme such as animals in the forest) is presented to the children. After the children have named the different objects, the game begins. Each child gets a turn to pick two objects such as a bat and a fox. The teacher will then say, "I spy something that begins with the sound "bu". Is it the bat or the fox?" There are progressive levels of difficulty that are presented to children based on their individual level of challenge.
After the group game, children will be asked to select their own work. Some will choose individual work, while others may choose a work that they can do with a friend. The different areas of the classroom include: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Science, Geography, Music, Art, and Mathematics. The Practical life area includes excercises that pertain to living in our culture. Learning how to pour, use a spoon, sew, ask for help, bake, and wash dishes are just a few of the excercises available for the children. The head teacher provides individual and small group lessons throughout the work period. A snack is also available throughout the work period. Children may have snack when they are hungry.
At 11:00 am, an announcement is made indicating that circle time will begin. Circle usually begins with several movement excercises. Then the children sing the calendar song and count the number of days on the calendar. Songs are sung, poems are shared, and a story is read during this time. Some days, a child may bring in an item to share. At 11:25 am, children are excused from circle to go to the cubby area and put on their coats and shoes.
Children play in the outdoor area from 11:30 am till noon. At noon, some children are picked up by a parent or caregiver. The rest of the children return to the classroom for lunch. After children have taken off their shoes and coats, used the bathroom and washed their hands, they set up their lunch. During lunch, children talk to their friends, someone may share a story, and/or a book may be read to the group. Each child is responsible for cleaning up their dishes and table after lunch. Once this has been completed, the child may go outside for playtime until pick-up at 1:00 pm.