If you’re a new mom, chances are you’ve seen the signs for Montessori education, but might be unfamiliar with what this means or how it differs from traditional preschool. Wikipedia does a great job of explaining it’s characteristics, but essentially it’s an educational approach developed by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori and is thrives on student independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural psychological, physical, and social development.
Greenville Montessori has set their school up to follow the practices of Maria Montessori to a T, their teachers are hands off and their students are free to interact with their environment in a student directed manner. The teacher’s role is to observe the child and recognize where they might be in their developmental stage.
Teachers are responsible for preparing the material, give the child the ‘lesson’ showing them how to work with it, then leave the child to experience for himself/herself. Only in that sense, the children are independent in the classroom. Since each child is unique and develops at their own pace, the work in the classroom matches this varying level of development.
Greenville Montessori (located in Allen near N. Greenville & Exchange Pkwy) and offers school programs from 6 weeks to 3rd grade –as well as an after school program and Summer program up to 11 years with traditional Montessori-style classrooms and curriculum. So what makes Greenville Montessori different?
You know how you walk into somewhere and just instantly feel welcome and “at home”? Well that is the feeling you get when walking into Greenville Montessori. There wasn’t a shortage of smiles and “hellos” throughout the halls!
Flexible Grade Levels & Mixed-Aged Classes
A very important component of Montessori educations is mixed-aged classes. I recently took a tour and visited each of the classrooms; watching the children taking part in a wide variety of independent and group work. The infants/pre-toddlers (6 weeks to 18 months) were going on a buggy ride outside while one of the toddler classes (18 months-3 years) was enjoying the covered playground outside.
Both of the primary classes (3-5 years) were hard at work as well. One class was having whole group story time, and the other was working independently while soothing classical music played in the background.
The Elementary class (Kindergarten-3rd grade) was working independently as well as in small groups. It was very interesting to see the progression of materials and how they were used differently in each age group.
Creating Personal Space
One concept that is found across the board at Greenville Montessori is mat work. Whether it is whole group or independent work the students use little woven mats to create a private work space.
Well-Designed Play Areas
Greenville Montessori was very smart in the design of their outside play area. There is a playground with covered awnings, but they stepped up the playground game and created an indoor/outdoor area. It is essentially a very large patio play area with turf, so no matter the time of year or weather the students can enjoy much needed time outside.
Working At the Child’s Level
Another thing that stood out to me was the appropriate size of everything in the classroom. In each room you can find chairs and tables that fit the size of their students as well as cubbies & shelves at their level. Pictures of the children can be seen as clear labels for the younger students, while the older students can recognize their names. It was truly a Montessori experience walking through Greenville Montessori’s halls.
Hands – On Learning
In addition to working in their classrooms, the students of Greenville Montessori can be found working in the school garden where they grow and eat their own produce, or on the playground enjoying the shaded play, or in the enrichment room which houses the school library, computers, and music class.
Classes enjoy family style meals provided by the school chef. When speaking with Ms. Dolly, Greenville Montessori’s owner (her husband and her bought Greenville a little over a year ago and also own a private preschool called Oak Brook in Murphy), one of the first things she mentioned to me was the big “revamp” she made: the school food.
Our food is completely fresh. We serve no frozen or pre-packaged food. I choose to look at it from a mothers point of view. I want to serve food that I serve for my children. It is very important to me.”
It is very clear when talking to Ms. Dolly and Ms. Jay (the center director) that they have invested a great deal of their time into Greenville Montessori and are very proud of the work they have done. And they should be! Greenville Montessori is a great school full of friendly smiles and a love for learning.
If you’re looking to learn more Greenville Montessori or the Montessori program in general, they will be hosting a Winter Bazaar/Open House on December 10th from 10am-2pm. It will be a day of family fun and the event is open to the entire community. There will be booths set up to showcase businesses/crafts owned by GMS families and also their partners. There will be food, music, bounce house, visit from Santa & fun crafts and activities.
This is a great opportunity to come tour the school and ask questions.and many vendors will be present. If you attend, and resigter your children at the event, Greenville Montessori will waive your registration fees and provide $400 off your child’s first month tuition!