The Montessori Method

At Undercroft, children benefit from all the elements of an authentic Montessori education.

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• More than a teacher, each child has a guide. In the Montessori method, the teacher is referred to as a “guide.” A guide spends a great deal of time preparing the classroom, constantly customizing it to the current interests of the children. She observes while the child works and is careful not to interrupt, allowing him the satisfaction of his own discovery.

• Children learn in a prepared environment.
You may feel like a bit of a giant in an Undercroft primary or elementary classroom, which is truly a child-sized world. The materials are specially designed to have visual and tactile appeal. Many are made from natural materials; all are beautiful in their simplicity. Above all, the materials are made to be self-correcting. The child finds her own way to success and allows the guide to guide, rather than correct or criticize.

The materials are arranged in easy-to-carry baskets and trays, and organized on low shelves. Children are free to select their own work, take it to a table or a mat on the floor, work until they are satisfied, then replace the work and choose another. Each child relates only to her previous work, and her progress is not compared with others’.

The prepared environment does three things:
• It puts a child at ease by giving her freedom to select the work that interests her
• It fosters a sense of responsibility and independence
• It provides a sense of order and enhances the child’s security

Even at the middle school level, the classroom is carefully prepared for the academic, physical and emotional development of the adolescent. The continued interdisciplinary nature of Montessori middle school studies dictates that all materials, computers, reference books, supplies and equipment be near at hand. Students and guides work together to maintain an organized, open workspace conducive to both concentration and inspiration!

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• Children learn the value of peacefulness. From the tender age of 3, Montessori children are taught the importance of personal responsibility and of respect for others. They are given more choices to make, so they learn to deal with the natural consequences of those choices. As self-confidence soars, each child develops an inner peace that helps her meet life’s challenges and embrace life’s opportunities.

Simply put, our students are kind to one another. They accommodate one another’s differences matter of- factly. When a child accidentally spills something, there are no jeers. He just gets the broom as another child gets the dustpan, calmly cleaning up together.

As students mature, daily student-run class meetings present opportunities to employ problem-solving and conflict resolution techniques. Day by day, year by year, the students learn the value of respecting one another.

When every child believes in himself, there is no competition. When there is true peace present in the classroom, there is more room for the fun and excitement of learning.

• Children learn with children of different ages.
Dr. Montessori observed what recent research has borne out – children learn most effectively from their peers. Montessori classes are formed by grouping children by approximate 3-year age spans, based on stages of development. Thus a 3-year-old will share a class with 6-year-olds, 6-year-olds with 9-year-olds, and so on.

Amazing things happen when classes are structured this way. The older children teach the younger – often without even realizing it. As the older child teaches, he reinforces his knowledge. The younger children watch, wide-eyed, taking it all in. The older learn patience; the younger learn respect. this can help enhance their sibling relationships at home and better prepare them to take on the world!