|“An educational method that shall have liberty as its basis must intervene to help the child to a conquest of liberty. That is to say, his training must be such as shall help him to diminish as much as possible the social bonds which limit his activity.” ~Maria Montessori|
What is Montessori?
Montessori education is an educational approach developed by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori (1870-1952). It is characterized by an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child's natural psychological development. Both the American Montessori Society (AMS) and the Association Montessori International (AMI) cite five essential elements of a Montessori classroom:
- Mixed age classrooms, with classes for students aged 3-6, 6-9, and 9-12
Student choice of activity from within a prescribed range of options
- Uninterrupted blocks of work time.
- A "discovery" model, where students learn concepts from working with materials, rather than by direct instruction.
- Specialized educational materials developed by Montessori and her collaborators.
- Within these elements, the Montessori method respects the unique individuality of each child. Dr. Montessori believed in the value and importance of each child. It is founded on the belief that children should be free to succeed and learn without restriction or criticism.
- It is also an approach that to education that takes to heart the needs, talents, and gifts of each child. It is a process that helps children learn in their own way and their own pace. Montessori promotes a joy of learning, a child's natural curiosity, a sense of independence, and leadership skills.
What does a Montessori classroom look like? Montessori classrooms are full of peaceful environments. Each environment is designed, set-up, and created specifically for the students using that environment. A classroom has low shelves, child-sized furniture, sinks, and work spaces. Children may be moving throughout the classroom space, sitting alone at a table, working in groups on rugs on the floor, or eating a prepared snack at a table for two. Teachers/instructors can be found working on the floor with children or moving throughout the room to assist students.
In a Montessori environment, practices are developmentally appropriate and encourage children to explore, manipulate, and learn as an individual. The underlying philosophy includes the following principles:
- Children are to be respected as individuals who differ from one another and therefore need an individualized approach to education.
- Children have sensitive periods for all areas of learning. Manipulation, exploration, and movement are absolutely necessary in this process.
- The "Prepared Environment" guarantees exposure to materials and experiences which aid in the development of intelligence, physical, social, and emotional needs, and language abilities.
History of Sands Montessori
Sands Montessori was the first public Montessori school in the United States. The original site opened in 1975 and was located in Mt. Adams. It was called Children's House and opened with an enrollment of 200 students. The program was designed by Nancy Rambusch, who introduced Montessori to the United States in the early 1960's.The success of this program prompted the expansion of Montessori in the public setting. A second and third site (Children's House West and Children's House Central) were opened. They were located in small areas of Oyler and Heberle Schools.
All three locations were combined in 1979 and moved to 940 Poplar Street in the West End. The name was changed to Sands Montessori School.
Sands Montessori had many other firsts as well. Sands was the first Cincinnati Public School to have a Chinese Sister School; Jing Hang Lu School in Liuzhou City. The school and Cincinnati Sister City Organization hosted the first delegation of city officials, government officials, and teachers from Liuzhou City.
Sands was one of the first schools to organized a Community Garden. The Sands Montessori Parent Organization, staff members, the Cincinnati Civic Garden Center and neighborhood individuals collaborated to get the project implemented in the West End.
In August of 2002, Sands Montessori moved from the West End of Cincinnati to the Mount Washington area on the far east side of the city. In 2009, Sands broke ground for a new LEED-certified school. That building opened in August 2010. Today, the staff and students enjoy a 'green' school environment. Sands Montessori became a School of Excellence from the very beginning and continues to excel.