Every year since 2012 we ask parents to share their opinions of our program. We are grateful to all who answered. MSH is a unique program in that the parents “own” the school. As enrolled families you make up the Montessori Society of Huntsville, you elect board members who oversee the policies and finances of the school and who supervise the Head of School, who manages all operations, staff, etc. for the school. So what you say really matters!
This year is an special year for the school because we are coming to the end of our first 5 year cycle for accreditation by the Southern Association of Independent Schools. For the past two years we have been putting our practice under the microscope. We reached out to you at our Fall Parent Society meeting to find out if we were meeting our mission. Our board members combed through every policy to make sure it was relevant and in line with best practices. And since 2012, we have asked every parent to complete an exit survey to see why they were leaving us for other educational institutions.
All the information from these sources was analyzed and compiled into a single report called the SAIS Self-Study. The Self-Study also contains the board of director’s long-term improvement plan for the school and outlines our future strategic initiatives. On February 21-23rd, a team of independent school leaders led by Renee Kropff of The Bright School in Chattanooga will visit our campus and determine if we continue to qualify for the esteemed accreditation by SAIS. The team will review our self-study, observe our practices, and then give us commendations and recommendations. Our preliminary reports have all been well-received and we anticipate full accreditation.
If you would like to read the self-study, you can find it at the link below. As we enter our 51st year of operation, we are very proud of how far we have come and very excited about where the future of MSH is leading.
The Journey All Parents Should Take
We all want what is best for our children. We work hard to prepare them for a successful future by providing the best education possible. The environment we inhabit is dynamic, and learning to learn is the most valuable skill we can give our kids to ensure their future success.
At MSH, we believe that the very best method for teaching children is one that began 108 years ago. The Montessori curriculum followed here at MSH is comprehensive, individualized and delivered in a beautiful, organized way. The materials and methods are incredibly specific, and the training required by our teachers to implement these methods and materials is very detailed.
However, you don’t have to take our word for it. You can experience it for yourself and you should. When you hear about the pink tower, stamp game, or checkerboard you should know the myriad of skills that align to each material. When your 3 year old comes home with red and blue letters on his arm, you can understand why they are presented in a particular order. When your daughter mentions that she held the peace rose today, you will know how this item is used on a regular basis for resolving conflict and teaching self-advocacy.
On January 30 from 8am-12pm, we hope you will join us to experience your child’s school day first hand, by participating in the Montessori Journey. Our teachers will take you through highlights of the curriculum and answer your questions about our materials and our methods. Get answers to all your questions and learn so much more about the Montessori Method by experiencing it for yourself. It’s a journey every parent needs to take.
The Montessori birthday celebration, referred to as the “Celebration of Life,” is one of the most moving traditions we come together for in our classroom and school community. Parents are encouraged to attend this special event honoring their child, typically beginning when the child enters the Primary classroom. The child who is being honored is tasked with the responsibility of setting up the months of the year around a candle (which represents the sun). The child is encircled by her parents, teachers and friends as she begins her journey (walk) around the sun while holding a globe. Each orbit around the sun represents 365 days, 12 months, or one year of that child’s life. As we say the months of the year together, this ritual is a reminder that on a deeper level, the child is experiencing time and place, geography and even history. The children listen intently as Mom and Dad show photos of their child and discuss major events and milestones that have occurred since the child entered the world.
Unique to a Montessori classroom, the mixed ages allow children to reflect on what they were like at three years old and envision what they will be like when they turn six years old. Often, a child who was shy her first year, evolves into a confident second and third year student who proudly orbits the sun and even begins to interject her parents and tell her own story. It is a time for the child to reminisce on her life, to engage in public speaking, and to be celebrated by friends and united by love. The most beautiful aspect surrounding this occasion is the emphasis on being connected to the planet and share the miracle of human existence.
“We shall walk together on this path of life, for all things are part of the universe, and are connected with each other to form one whole unity.”
Practical life is the heart of any Montessori Toddler Classroom and plays a major role in the development of children for years to come. Practical life offers several major benefits to the child: the acquisition of a practical skill, the development of focused attention, and preparation for writing and reading.
The acquisition of a practical skillOver the course of the two-year cycle in the toddler classroom, your child will have the opportunity to develop his/her skills in increasingly complex fine motor activities, care of self activities, care of the environment activities, and water activities.As a part of the care of self curriculum, your child will be learning to dress him/herself, hang his/her own coat up on a hook, as well as use velcro, buttons, zippers, and snaps. Threading beads and lacing work offers preparation for more complex dressing skills they will work on in the primary classroom (such as lacing and tying shoes).The care of the environment and fine motor skills curriculum is vast. Your children will have the opportunity to learn opening and closing various containers, spooning items from one bowl to another, dry pouring, pouring of water, transferring items by hand and with tongs, dusting, hammering, carrying a chair, folding a variety of cloths with a variety of folds, washing cloths by hand, washing dishes by hand, washing a table, sweeping, using a dust pan & brush, mopping, setting a table, and many more!
It is important to note that these are the opportunities every child will have in the toddler classroom, but every child will not master every skill. Because the children have the freedom to develop themselves, there will be a great variety of skill acquisition. However, there are only good choices of activity in the classroom, so you need not fear that your child will spend hours idle. All work is important work, and we get to see how each child uniquely unfolds!
The development of focused attention
According to the material originally designed by Dr. Montessori, the child will first develop focus in the practical life areas. Toddlers, as well as 3 and 4 year olds, naturally gravitate to these areas. Dr. Montessori noted this and developed the curriculum so that the activities start simple and slowly increase in difficulty, with specific areas of focus. The child will learn to concentrate well by spending much time in practical life. With this foundation in toddlerhood and up to around 4 (or sometimes 5), he or she will be ready to spend focused time in other ares of the classroom, becoming much more competent in these more abstract areas when they are developmentally ready for them.