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MSD offers an exciting and well-rounded educational program that challenges curiosity and rewards creativity. Students use hands-on materials to explore a broad range of concepts. Our unique curriculum is based on a combination of Montessori philosophy and best educational practices with a focus on language arts, mathematics, geography, history, science, sensorial and practical life – all with a global perspective in mind. In addition, MSD offers Spanish, art, music, drama, library science, and physical education.
Why Montessori? Check out the following video, a preview for the upcoming documentary, Building the Pink Tower, about Montessori education. The film will examine how Montessori schools nurture the imagination of children and lay a solid foundation for their success in life.
What is Montessori? This educational philosophy is based on the work of Maria Montessori (1870—1952) who saw a great need to reform the educational system of the time. She devoted her lifetime to creating schools that develop the full potential of each individual child. Maria Montessori believed that education could be a powerful force in creating more responsible and caring individuals, and that through observation, individual choice, and a carefully prepared environment great success is possible.
Other tenets of a Montessori education include:
- Individual learning. Montessori education recognizes that each child learns at a different pace and we allow time for that growth to take place. The Montessori method is based on deep respect for and understanding of child development.
- Multi-age groupings of children within a classroom. Each class at MSD, with the exception of the Toddler Program, has a three-year age span. These groupings are a recognition that each child develops in a unique manner and at his or her pace. Multi-age classrooms also provide the necessary opportunities for older children to be role models for the younger students, both reinforcing their own learning and building self-esteem.
- An emphasis on concrete learning first, which provides a firm foundation for abstraction. Belief that children need to experience concepts in concrete ‘hands-on’ ways before they can truly think abstractly.
- Working for the joy of learning and sense of discovery. Montessori students are deeply interested in learning and understanding the work itself.
- Learning in an inquiring, cooperative, and nurturing atmosphere. Students increase their own knowledge through self and teacher-initiated experiences.
- Teachers specially trained in the Montessori method. In addition to curriculum instruction and Montessori philosophy, teacher education includes child development, teaching strategies, observation, and leadership skills.
- Classroom environments carefully prepared by the teacher so that they are welcoming, child-centered, orderly, and stimulating. A thoughtfully prepared environment facilitates the child’s exploration and creativity.
- Large blocks of uninterrupted work time. Classroom schedules allow students the time to problem solve, see the interdisciplinary connections of knowledge, and to construct new ideas.
Best educational practice at MSD means that we help students learn how to learn, we emphasize the application of knowledge not just the acquisition, and we help students know their best learning style.
- We create self-directed, independent learners who take responsibility.
- We provide authentic, experiential learning opportunities.
- We want to engage our students in real-world issues and allow them to interpret new information and to connect this information to prior knowledge.
- We value service learning and believe it empowers our students.
- We offer a highly-integrated curriculum.
- We use technology for learning, assessment of learning, and communication; students use computers as a valuable educational tool.
- We celebrate diversity.
Global education and preparing kids for the 21st century is another important focus of our dynamic program. Students today face a rapidly-changing world full of new ideas and technology. We want to make sure our kids are well prepared to keep up! We update curriculum regularly to reflect changes in the world and in our community, and we emphasize relevant academic subjects and collaboration and teambuilding skills. We want to equip students with the tools necessary to contribute and participate meaningfully in the world including:
- Critical thinking and problem solving
- Collaboration and leadership
- Agility and adaptability
- Initiative and entrepreneurism
- Effective oral and written communication
- Accessing and analyzing information
- Creativity and innovation
- Character Education
- Cosmopolatinism (cross-cultural competency)
Experiential Education is also a hallmark of a MSD education. We believe that active, hands-on, concrete experiences are the most powerful and natural form of learning, and direct immersion in learning helps students to think more deeply, and to discover the detailed implications of ideas and information.
Curriculum Support-Technology. We believe in the power of technology as a valuable educational tool, therefore we’ve integrated technology as an important part of our classrooms, using it for learning assessments, differentiating instruction, and communication. Students use computers for research, writing, long distance collaboration, and exploring a variety of concepts using specialized software. All Elementary classrooms use SMART Boards and Upper Elementary also use iPads to extend classroom learning and assess understanding. The MSD Library is wireless and has a publishing center for students to produce their work as well as laptops that can be checked out for classroom work.