What do La Bella Vita Montessori elementary students do throughout the day? What’s the daily schedule?
At La Bella Vita Montessori, our elementary students have a three-hour uninterrupted work cycle each morning and a shorter work period each afternoon. Students can work both in our indoor classroom and our outdoor classroom extension. Lunch typically happens before outdoor time in the elementary classroom. Elementary children take a very active role in managing their classroom and keeping it clean and organized, so time is set aside daily, typically at the end of each work cycle, for these tasks.
Tell me about class sizes and child-teacher ratios.
As children get older, they become more interested in working with their peers. As a result, in the elementary classroom, the vast majority of lessons are given to small groups of 2-5 or sometimes even given during line time. This instructional ratio far surpasses the typical instructional ratio in elementary classrooms, which is in the range of 1:25 (we recommend researching this for your area’s public and private schools). Our ideal elementary class size is larger than in our earlier programs. This allows smaller peer groups to develop within the larger age range in the program, and for children to find other peers with similar interests with whom they can connect and work.
Do you give tests to the children? How does assessment work?
We think it is neither necessary nor helpful to administer or depend on traditional tests and assessments, especially with young children. Ongoing, detailed assessment happens in lessons, when the teacher presents a new material, often one-on-one with the child (or in small groups with older children) and through daily observation of the child’s work with the materials. As they get older, a child’s completed work becomes more important in the assessment process as well, but early on, the child is primarily working on developing internal skills and understanding, rather than producing a particular external result. Because the child’s aim is to build him or herself, careful observation of the child is necessary. We encourage each child’s intrinsic motivation by responding to and developing the child’s natural developmental interest.
There seems to be a lot of choice given to Montessori students. What if my child never chooses math/language/another type of work?
Our teachers at La Bella Vita Montessori receive training and professional development in the craft of Montessori education. One of the skills they learn is how to “entice” children and draw their interest. If it happened that your child was not expressing interest in some particular category (this would be very unusual), your teacher would ask herself why, and would closely observe your child in order to figure it out. Then she would craft a plan to help spark that interest, possibly drawing on other areas of interest that your child has.
The Montessori experience is based on the principle of “freedom within limits” or “freedom with responsibility.” Your child is free to choose any work he’s had a lesson on, and to use it as often and for as long as he wishes, as long as it’s exercised responsibly. In the highly unusual scenario that he never chooses work in a given area, the guide has a number of strategies she can employ depending on the age of the child (repeating a lesson with the child, working together with the child, enticing the child to observe or work with other children doing that work, etc.).
In the elementary classroom, children are expected to become active members of their society and expected to learn the necessary skills that will allow them to actively participate. They are coached to master key skills and use those skills to explore and demonstrate their knowledge in all areas of learning.
How does Montessori support creativity?
Children that grow up in Montessori schools are exceptionally creative, and many well-known entrepreneurs and artists grew up in Montessori schools (the Google founders, Jeff Bezos- the founder of Amazon, Anne Frank, and Prince William and Harry, to name a few). In order execute on a creative idea, a person needs to have technical skill; the artist must be able to employ the paintbrush or the clay with skill in order for it to become the thing that he or she imagines. In our classrooms, children are exposed to an abundance of information, and they practice using their hands in many different ways. Finally, they are given real tools with which to do art, from early on. The elementary-aged child has a creative imagination and is exposed to an abundance of information and ideas in the classroom. He or she can then begin to put these ideas together in new ways-as an artist, a writer, an inventor, or an entrepreneur.
Will my child have trouble transitioning to another school?
Children typically transition very easily to other schools from our program. We recommend that you choose a school that is sure to challenge your child, as one of the biggest issues after a transition is lack of challenge. Children from our elementary classrooms are typically sought after by middle schools, and typically become leaders in whichever schools they attend, public or private.