Mountain West Montessori is a holistic and multicultural community that follows Montessori philosophy as we guide children from one stage of development to the next. We believe that by allowing children room to grow at their own pace and encouraging them to be active participants in their education, we promote and education that brings harmony to the students, school and community. We also follow Montessori philosophy's mandate that campuses allows students the privilege of being in constant contact with nature.
Maria Montessori observed a spark in children that she believed is the key to changing the world. She saw that children are inherently good and if they are allowed to develop according to their natural rhythms, they feel connected to their environment and society. Children who are not rushed through stages care deeply about others and the world around them. Montessori philosophy posits that children have inner guides that move them from phase to phase as they are ready to mature and take on new cognitive, social, and psychological tasks. The role of adults is to nourish children’s inner guide and respect their individual pacing and interests.
Order and structure
Order plays a very important part in the lives of young children. Order means that there is a designated place for each object in an environment. Children develop their sense of order by knowing that the objects will be where they should be and by learning to return the objects to their designated area. Order in their environment creates a secure area that allows students’ brains to feel safe and to learn and to develop. The Montessori classroom is one that combines the security of structure with the freedom of expression that creates a holistic education of both body and mind.
Montessori observed that children develop in cyclical phases. The phases include periods of seeking order, refinement of senses, acquisition of language, walking and movement, experimenting with small objects, and participating in community life. As children move from stage to stage, they experience periods of sensitivity where they learn rapidly. If adults recognize that a child is moving through a period of intense acquisition, they can guide the child to take advantage of their accelerated rate. Montessori Guides (teachers) are trained to be sensitive to these creative periods and provide support so that children have the freedom to follow their interests at their own individual pace.
Children learn through their senses
Montessori created materials and curriculum that develops the senses because children learn about the world through their physical experiences. Children are drawn to the sensory materials because they are designed for the methodologies that conform to how children learn. Montessori believed that children love working with beautiful objects, so all the materials were prepared with the attention to aesthetics as well as functionality. Her designs have stood the test of time and the success of students in schools all over the globe show how accurate Montessori’s observations still are. Mountain West Montessori is proud to utilize materials used by Montessori schools all over the world.
Children need freedom
Montessori saw freedom as the single most important factor in allowing children to develop as spontaneous, creative individuals. She saw the role of education as providing environments in which the children could feel free to follow their natural inclinations and individual interests to become the dynamic, natural learners they are created to be.
Children and culture
While Montessori's emphasis is on children being allowed the freedom to work independently and to develop their individual interests, she includes the importance of social development. She stresses that it is precisely when children are allowed to work in freedom that they develop love and concern for others. When children are allowed to be themselves and grow at their own rate, they develop an internal harmony that extends to their external world.
Montessori called her teachers Guides because their mission was to guide students with an awareness of each student’s learning rhythms. In order to observe and understand the developmental stages of their students, Guides must be keenly aware of and reflect on their own emotional, social, and mental processes. Montessori asked that Guides be more psychologists than teachers because success in her schools was more contingent on the Guides’ ability to sensitively observe the phases of individual children and direct the emerging energies.
As she watched her students developing, Montessori realized that it was natural for younger children to learn by observing and listening to the older children. She observed that children learn, and retain what they learn, best when in a community of children that actively support and help each other. Montessori schools therefore encourage children of different ages to work together as an inclusive social group.
Children are natural learners
Montessori advocates that when children are allowed to follow their own biorhythms and interests, they undergo extraordinary transformations in overall happiness, self-confidence and self-discipline. The work of a child, therefore, is fundamentally different than that of an adult: children worked for the joy of the process instead of an end result; children need to repeat activities over and over until they reach mastery; and children are excited and energized by their work. Montessori philosophy posits that children only stop loving learning when they are forced to go against their natural inclinations.
Processes over Results
Montessori advocates believe that children are at their happiest when they are involved in their educational processes. Children are natural learners who, if left to follow their instincts, will eagerly and spontaneously explore their world. Children do not work towards a finished product like adults do, so if one wishes to nourish the natural inclinations and curiosity of children, their education needs to focus on the process of learning and exploring.
Montessori schools believe that each child is an individual whose natural curiosity is fostered when Guides encourage them to learn and work at the pace that is right for him or her. Grades or tests are not part of the process until the child enters Adolescence; the concepts and reasons for testing are presented at the students’ pace and supported completely by Guides who understand that children must master a variety of skills to thrive outside of our school. Children collaborate with each other. As Montessori advocates, our curriculum teaches invaluable life skills while preserving the rights of each child to be enjoy methodologies that encourage explorative learning.