Question: What is Montessori?
The Montessori method is a child-centered approach to educating young children. It is based on the teachings of Maria Montessori, an extraordinary educator and the first female physician in Italy. Maria Montessori believed that it was the teacher's role to cultivate the child's natural desire to learn. In her book, The Absorbent Mind, she stated, "The most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to age six. For that is the time when man's intelligence itself, his greatest implement is being formed." After years of observing and working with children, Maria Montessori found that children were captivated when given work to do with their hands; therefore, she believed that "the hands are the instruments of man's intelligence." She devised classroom materials for children to use to learn the skills necessary for later success in school and life. These materials are just one of the unique aspects of a Montessori school. After observing a Montessori classroom in action, observers often ask, "How did the children know where to go and what to do? The answer is - they are self-directed. The Montessori environment is truly prepared with the child in mind. Maria Montessori was very aware of the needs of children and had great respect for their abilities. She observed that children thrived in an envirionment where they could choose which works to do and where everyone had respect for each other and the materials. The Montessori philosophy offers a wonderful balance of freedom and structure. The teacher prepares the environment and then acts as a guide to help the children explore all areas of the classroom as they are ready.
Question: Does Montessori Day School of Wellesley Hills offer any extended days?
Answer: While MDS does not offer any extended days, there are gymnastics and martial arts schools located on site that offer programs that can extend the day until 1:00p.m. on specific days of the week.
Question: What is the background of the Director?
Answer: Mary Elizabeth Wall has been working with young children for more than fifteen years. She has a Masters of Library Science and started her career as a children's librarian at the Carnegie Libary of Pittsburgh. As guest storytimes led her into preschools she realized that what she most desired was to be a classroom teacher. She taught in other types of preschools before becoming a Montessori teacher. She is certified in Early Childhood by the American Montessori Society and is the mother of three.
Question: What is tuition for the 2013-2014 school year?
Answer: Tuition for the three day program is $6600 and tuition for the five day program is $7900. There is a $500 discount for families of siblings attending at the same time.
Question: How early should I submit an application?
Answer: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Space is limited so families should submit applications early.
Question: What is a typical day like at MDS?
Answer: The school doors are open by 8:45a.m each morning. Parents escort children into the cubby room upon arrival at school. Children hang coats and backpacks on their individual hooks. Parents say goodbye as the child enters the classroom. He (or she) is greeted with a handshake and smile.
The following schedule gives you a general idea of our schedule each day. However, the times will vary depending on the activities planned.
8:45-9:15: Morning Circle Time: Stories are read until most of the children have arrived. Then we sing greeting songs and have a short business meeting in which we talk about the calendar, the weather, whose absent, etc. This time of day is very important for building a sense of community in our classroom.
9:15-11:00: Independent Work Period - Children work independently around the room, doing works that interest them in all areas of the classroom. They have many activities from which to choose. In the art area, they can explore various mediums – watercolor, pastels, collage, clay, finger paint, etc. In practical life they learn every day skills such as pouring, spooning, table washing, and more. The sensorial area houses materials that engage the senses. The geography, math, and language areas offer traditional Montessori materials as well as new educational products that support the Montessori philosophy. The items found on the shelves change throughout the year depending on the thematic unit we are studying and in order to offer increasingly challenging works to the students. Teachers serve as guides when children need a little help making choices or trying something new. Children may choose to work alone or work with a friend on certain partner works. They may also receive an individual or small group lesson from a teacher during this time. Teachers observe the child’s progress and interests and introduce works that the child is ready for. This part of the day is one of the most fascinating times in a Montessori classroom as the children are given freedom to choose their own activities within an organized and structured environment. It is often said to resemble the buzzing of bees in a hive.
Snack Time: For the first few weeks of the year, group snack is served. The child who is helper for the day passes out the snack. We start with group snack in order to get to know one another and to allow time for grace and courtesy lessons to be presented. After children are comfortable in the classroom, individual snack will begin. At this time, children are encouraged to have snack when they are ready. They may have it alone or invite a friend to join them. Children take turns being the Host/Hostess of the week. When it is their turn they bring snack for the whole class for the upcoming week. Some time during the morning the children sit at the snack table to eat, and then clean up after themselves. Water is available for the children to drink whenever they wish. Depending on the food allergies of the children in any given year, some foods may not be allowed in the classroom. Special snacks that go along with a unit of study and healthy snacks that the children prepare during the work period are available on certain mornings.
11:00-11:05 Transition Time
When a chime is sounded, the children prepare to come to circle. Children who are still working on a lengthy activity may leave it for the following day. If they are finished then the child returns it to the shelf and joins the teacher at circle.
11:05-11:30/11:40 Second Circle: This is a time when the teacher gives a few presentations that are appropriate for the whole group. It may involve a lesson on a traditional Montessori material, a grace and courtesy lesson, or an activity based on a current theme or study unit. Next, a story selected for that particular day is read. On Tuesdays and Thursdays we have special Spanish and Music classes.
We play outside every day as long as weather permits. It is important that children have the proper clothing to keep them warm in the cold. In order to play in the snow children must have a winter coat, hat, gloves or mittens, boots, and snow pants. If it is too cold to safely be outside, we will do creative movement, walking the line activities, yoga, or group games.
*Outside enrichment programs are scheduled during the week with times and days depending on the availability of presenters.We do deviate from the above schedule in order to take advantage of spontaneous learning opportunities, follow the children’s interests, and to allow for special presenters to come to our classroom.
Question: What types of enrichment activities are provided?
Answer: Art, Music, Creative Movement, Spanish, Yoga, Nature Study, Physical Education, Library, "Share a Smile" (our school's community service club, and Gardening
Question: What is the yearly schedule?
Answer: MDS follows the Wellesley Public School's Calendar, with some exceptions. MDS sometimes offers a 2-4 week summer program as well. Summer themes are based on children's literature and/or nature. Priority enrollment will be given to MDS students.
Question: What forms of communication are used to keep parents informed of school happenings?
Answer: The primary form of communication is a Montessori Day School of Wellesley Hills blog that allows access only to enrolled families. Regular updates are posted along with photos. Parents and teachers also communicate briefly at drop-off and pick-up but for more lengthy or private matters, they may communicate via phone or e-mail. The director meets with the parents in the spring and fall for parent conferences, and at additional times if needed. At the conferences, parents receive information about their child's progress in each of the curriculum areas.