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Posted by on Apr 22, 2015 | 3 comments

Life in the Montessori Classroom: Part 1

Life in the Montessori Classroom: Part 1

Today, we begin a tour of a local gem, the “little school around the corner,” The Del Ray Montessori School, which currently shares space in the Del Ray Methodist Church, a century-old building we’ve also featured as one of our local history posts. The Del Ray Montessori School came into being in 2011 when a few local families and Montessori educators realized their dream of starting a local Montessori school here in Del Ray.

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My kids have both attended a Montessori preschool and now, my 7-year-old daughter Nadja attends the elementary program (ages 6-12). I’m mesmerized every time I visit at the way the rooms are organized, the beautiful wooden materials so typical of the hands-on Montessori pedagogy, and the way the children do their “work” as they call it, so intently – at an age characterized by insatiable curiosity.

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In a series of classroom tours, I’ll highlight various aspects of life in the Montessori classroom, seen through the eyes of the students using their own classroom camera and through mine as quiet observer. (Some of the photos in this post are by the students and some by me.) I’ll start in the elementary classroom (a mixed group of ages 6-12).  The tours will especially highlight activities anyone replicate at home.

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We’ll look at how the Montessori program fosters intellectual exploration of continents, cultures, scientific concepts, and great literature.

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The other day, I watched the students practice their cursive writing while taking a spelling test. Each student worked from a different list that their teacher, Laura Pallandre, whom they call “Miss Pallandre,” read out, so it was okay to look on another’s sheet, as you see one of the boys doing below.

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Many found a spot in the classroom to sit alone and work on spelling their words in cursive.

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And then, when they were ready, they lined up to review their work with Miss Pallandre.

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The children will keep their spelling tests in a journal, which is a typical way in the Montessori classroom for students to track their studies through journals, booklets, work plans, charts, even contracts.

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What’s also wonderful to me about The Del Ray Montessori School experience is the time they give to art, music, yoga, and handiwork – crochet, embroidery, knitting, and many forms of art-making.

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Another experience I plan to share is an event they call “going out” – a field trip that a group of students plan entirely from start to finish – from choosing and booking the event, to writing permission slips, to planning the route and means of transportation. The adults hang back – they attend, but try to keep a low profile- during the “going out,” letting the children do it all.

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The Del Ray Montessori School has outgrown its current rented space in a neighborhood church and is eager to move into a free-standing building of own, one that would allow the school to meet the growing demands of its current students and the greater community at large. You can follow their goings-on and find out how you can support the school capital campaign on their Facebook page or main website.

3 Comments

  1. Love DRMS so much! The photos are just lovely, really give a great sense of the students’ intense attention to their work.

  2. Spelling tests? Since when do Montessori schools do tests? :/

    I was excited to find an example of a Montessori school that encouraged handwork and making things rather than just writing reports, but if they’re testing the students, I’m no longer sure how Montessori they are…

    • Hi Grace, The teacher of this Montessori classroom wrote a long thoughtful reply to you that I’ll send you in DM.

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