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Mercer Island Montessori

7844 S.E. 71st St.
Mercer Island, WA 98040

Phone:
(206) 275-1738

Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Montessori

From the Director:

The Montessori approach does not easily fit into the survey that follows. The children are allowed to select their own works after a teacher has shown them the purpose of the work. If you look at the work of cutting with scissors, a teacher would model how to cut and then hand the scissors over to the child to try. The teacher's job at this point is to make note if the child mastered the activity or needs specific help learning to cut. But once a child has mastered the art of cutting, he may find a number of things in the art area to cut and make his own creations.

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

Our motto is "respect the child." Each child develops at their own pace, with their own unique talents. The many different areas of a Montessori classroom offers an abundance of opportunities for children to engage with their work in a meaningful way. Every child is different than every other child and has strengths and areas that they can improve. The Montessori classroom offers a child who is gifted the opportunity to learn at their own pace and follow their own interests as we have available materials that can offer challenge to these learners. For those children who their is a concern about their development, we meet with the parents and ask for testing so that we can better provide the child with the best opportunities for growth. As this is a mixed age classroom, the disparities between where children are in the curriculum is not a main focus for the children.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

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 Typical Day

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.

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

Our motto is "respect the child." Each child develops at their own pace, with their own unique talents. The many different areas of a Montessori classroom offers an abundance of opportunities for children to engage with their work in a meaningful way. Every child is different than every other child and has strengths and areas that they can improve. The Montessori classroom offers a child who is gifted the opportunity to learn at their own pace and follow their own interests as we have available materials that can offer challenge to these learners. For those children who their is a concern about their development, we meet with the parents and ask for testing so that we can better provide the child with the best opportunities for growth. As this is a mixed age classroom, the disparities between where children are in the curriculum is not a main focus for the children.

Separation

Separation is Handled through:

  • Extra staff dedicated to handle separation

Handling Separation: From the Director

As we have a summer program, many of our new students begin at different times in the summer. This allows us to bring the new students in one or two at a time. We also have a visit for the child before school begins. The parent brings the child for 40 minutes on a day when school is not in session. The child meets the teacher, learns where the bathroom, cubby area, and eating area are located and also is given a few lessons. On the first day of school in September, all the children have been to the school and only a handful of children are experiencing their first day with other children. An extra staff member helps with showing the children the new routine and parents are allowed to walk their children into the classroom and spend a few minutes in the classroom with their child. If a child begins to cry when their parent is trying to leave, we ask that the parent say goodbye to the child (and have a special routine so that the child knows that when the parent gives them three hugs and kisses that the parent will leave) and leave. Usually the child will settle down after a minute or so. If the child continues to cry, the teacher tries to get the child involved in a work. Very rarely does a child continue crying for a long period of time.