Did you know that Montessori classrooms at Hammond Elementary are made up of students of mixed ages?
“Classes are multi-aged to form a community with older students becoming leaders and teachers to their younger peers,” explained Patricia Patrick, a Montessori teacher for more than three decades who currently teaches Grade 2/3 at Hammond. “Spontaneous sharing of knowledge is commonplace in a Montessori environment.”
That’s not the only difference you would notice if you walked into a Montessori classroom for the first time.
Montessori classrooms at Hammond are well organized and supplied with colourful learning materials specifically designed for hands-on exploration. Patrick also noted that there are no designated seating areas as the students have the freedom to move around the room, either working on the floor or at a table.
The Montessori classroom is set up with five main areas: mathematics, language, sensorial, practical life and cultural/botany/geography. Each area has various Montessori materials that the students use to explore and discover, after they have been presented to them by the teacher. The materials are progressive and often have a built-in control of error so that the students can self-correct.
“The Montessori method is an alternative educational program where the students essentially teach themselves using the Montessori materials,” explained Patrick. “Students have the freedom to choose their own work based on interest and ability and can proceed through the materials at their own pace.”
Through frequent observations, the teacher tracks each child’s progress and needs. Patrick noted that students are encouraged to do their own research, analyze their findings, come to their own conclusions and present their research to their peers.
“Learning is an exciting process of discovery, developing concentration, motivation, self-discipline and a life-long love of learning,” she said.
During open work periods, students can use the materials either individually or with a partner. Students can choose to work on one specific topic for an extended period of time while also being aware that they need to cover other areas. This makes them responsible for their own learning and develops time management skills and accountability, added Patrick.
“The benefits of a Montessori classroom are plentiful. The students become self-motivated, responsible, confident, capable and have a love of learning. They are willing to take risks. Students are eager to come to school where they can embrace their individuality while appreciating the abilities and differences of others. It is incredible that parents have the choice of a free Montessori program in our district,” said Patrick.
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