"There is in every child a painstaking teacher, so skillful that he obtains identical results in all children in all parts of the world. The only language men ever speak perfectly is the one they learn in babyhood, when no one can teach them anything!" -Dr. Maria Montessori
Although the Okemos Public Montessori program is a relatively new program within Okemos Public Schools, former Wardcliff Elementary Principal Kathy Branch was an advocate for this teaching method for many years. Mrs. Branch was introduced to the Montessori method during her experience as a Principal at a public elementary school that had a Montessori program prior to coming to Okemos, and she led the effort to introduce the Montessori method within Okemos Public Schools.
Gaining a reputation of excellence the Montessori program within Okemos continues to grow. With the closing of two elementary schools the School Board voted to move the Montessori program to Central where the additional physical space would allow for continued growth. In the fall of 2010 the Montessori program moved to Central.
Okemos Public Montessori follows the same school calendar and school hours as the other elementary schools in Okemos. The school hours are:
3yr. and 4yr. olds go to school in the AM only. (Kindergarten is full day this year)
Children in the 3, 4, 5 year old program attend school 8:50AM to 12:00PM. on half days of instruction. AM and PM sessions alternate attendance for half days of instruction.
Early Release Days
Montessori Childcare (Before School, K.E.E.P. Enrichment and After Care) is available from 7:15 AM until 6:00 PM, Monday through Friday, or on a part-time basis for all Montessori students.
Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.)
In 1907, Dr. Maria Montessori, Italy's first female physician, opened a school in San Lorenzo, Rome. Her goal was to help children become self-motivated, independent learners. She initiated a method which actively engaged children in learning by using their five senses rather than merely a rote approach. The Montessori method soon proved to be an amazing success.
Although times have changed and teaching methods have evolved, the principles based on Dr. Montessori's observations of children have remained essentially the same.
Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that Montessori works extremely well with children having a wide range of learning styles and ability levels. At Okemos Public Montessori we have observed that children who seem to especially flourish in our environment are those who are developing an internal sense of discipline and are capable of working independently. Elementary level students who have a difficult time focusing on their work, require constant teacher input and direction, are easily distracted, or have a hard time with transitions, may not find Montessori classrooms to work for them.
In the Montessori environment, children are given freedom with responsibility. Children are free to move about the classroom, to observe or talk with other children, to choose activities appropriate for their ability, or to ask the teacher to introduce new materials to them. Children are not free to disturb other children or to misuse or abuse materials.
The teacher observes and works with individual children, introducing materials and giving guidance when necessary. Through careful observation, the teacher prepares the classroom environment as necessary to aid each child's growth. The teacher continually assesses the direction in which a child has indicated he or she wishes to go, and actively works to help the child achieve his or her goals. In the upper levels, the teacher conducts group lessons in reading and math on a regular basis, as well as group lessons on cultural subjects.
Parents are encouraged to be actively involved in classroom activities, parties, and school events. Many Montessori parents volunteer on a regular basis in classrooms, and teachers often invite parents and members of the community as special guests to share their professional expertise or life experiences with students. All Okemos students receive graded report cards twice a year, and parents are invited to attend conferences in the fall and spring to review their child's progress. Okemos Public Montessori teachers have also hosted evening parent information meetings to help those parents interested in implementing Montessori concepts in their child's home environment.
Children learn from each other. Young children learn higher level cognitive and social skills in part by observing other children as models. In a mixed aged Montessori classroom, children's collaborative skills and cooperation are cultivated because older children act as role models and teachers of younger children. Older children reach a deeper level of understanding when explaining concepts to a younger child. Multi-age groupings help children develop a sense of community as well as foster social development.
Every Montessori school and almost every Montessori teacher have their unique interpretation of what a "true" Montessori education entails. There is tremendous variation among schools (and even between classrooms within the same school) in their application of Maria Montessori's principles. The only "true" Montessori schools were the ones taught by Dr. Maria Montessori herself. Most modern day Montessori schools have evolved to some degree due to social change and technological advancements. Okemos Public Montessori is a "true" Montessori in the same sense that other schools may make that claim- it attempts to remain true to Dr. Montessori's philosophy and practices. Dr. Maria Montessori intended for her teaching method to be used in public schools- she desired all children, regardless of ability or background, to benefit from her teaching methods.
Every child is unique, therefore no one educational approach can fit every child. The best way to determine whether Okemos Public Montessori will be a good fit for your child is to visit, observe the classrooms, and talk to the teachers and staff. While other parent's perspectives can be helpful, their assessments should be viewed with some caution because their opinions are formed only through the lens of their own child's experience. Your child is unique, and might have an entirely different experience in exactly the same setting. The best way to tell if Okemos Public Montessori is right for your child is to rely on your own impressions and interactions, and to trust your instincts as to what is best for your child.