VISION AND MISSION FOR CHILDRENS' HOUSE AND ELEMENTARY
The vision of Baltimore Montessori Public Charter School is to nurture a love of learning in a small, family-like environment by providing an extraordinary and proven Montessori public school experience for families living in Baltimore City.
Our mission is to build a diverse and respectful community of joyfully engaged learners by providing a holistic Montessori environment that supports individual fulfillment, compassion, self-discipline, life-long learning and a deep awareness of our responsibility to contribute meaningfully to our world.
WE BELIEVE THAT:
• Every child can benefit from a Montessori environment.
• Children must be treated with respect.
• Children are born curious and creative.
• Children learn in different ways and at different paces.
• Children learn best through hands-on experiences, real-world application & problem-solving.
• It is critically important to allow children to develop a high degree of independence & autonomy.
• Movement is essential to learning.
• The child benefits most when teachers and families work together.
• School must be a joyful experience.
• Children are the hope for mankind.
• Montessori is an education for life.
GUIDING PRINCIPLES necessary to successfully implement our mission
• Providing an integrated and open-ended curriculum that adheres to rigorous Montessori standards, informed by current research
• Opportunities to go beyond memorization and repetition to a deep understanding of concepts, a thirst for knowledge and a strong sense of self
• Following the child and their unique interests, gifts and needs
• A dedication to observation and self-reflection as growth
• Promoting independence through accessible and sequential materials and an orderly and safe environment
• Creating an inviting and inspiring environment that joyfully engages the whole child and their natural curiosity
• Use of mixed-age groupings and long work periods that maximize learning opportunities, cooperation and self-confidence
• Thoughtful integration of nature, movement, nutrition, the arts, practical life and sensory experiences
• A commitment to ongoing professional development and family education to deepen our understanding of the Montessori philosophy and our unique mission
• Use of active listening, acknowledgement and questioning as a means for thoughtful responses, emotional safety and effective communication
• Ongoing discussions on the meaning of respect and how to build a trusting partnership among families and staff
• Capitalize on our diverse strengths, positive role modeling and clear mission to build a strong school community
Our charter school is based on the principles of Montessori education, which is often referred to as “education for life”. Dr. Maria Montessori, who was the first female doctor in Italy, founded Montessori education in 1907. After observing and working with children in the inner city, Dr. Montessori devoted her energy to studying the process of normal child development and how human beings can reach their potential more fully. She identified positive human behaviors, such as a young child’s ability to concentrate, that are universal tendencies and designed educational materials and environments to encourage these traits. She field-tested the materials across ages, socio-economic backgrounds and cultures. As a result of Dr. Montessori’s great influence on child development and early childhood education and the success of her methods, there are over 3,000 private Montessori programs and several hundred public Montessori schools in the U.S. Baltimore Montessori is the first public Montessori school in Baltimore. We hope to become a model and expand the opportunities for Montessori public school in Baltimore City.
The Montessori philosophy embraces the whole child and his/her natural curiosity and love of learning. Children will reach their full potential both academically and socially when given the freedom to work actively with concrete, sequential materials within a carefully prepared environment and an open-ended curriculum. Teachers provide enough guidance to help the children work toward independence and self-discipline. A multi-age classroom provides maximum opportunities for developing social and academic skills and modeling respectful behavior. It also gives older children a chance to demonstrate mastery of specific concepts by teaching them to their younger peers.
ABOUT OUR LEARNING COMMUNITY
Children learn best when they are supported by highly qualified and nurturing educators, and treated with dignity and respect. Only in an environment where children feel safe and supported are they free to mature, develop, and reach their full potential. In accordance with our vision and mission, we strive to instill a deep love of learning and respect within the learning community. Through the teachings of Dr. Montessori, our school will focus on the development of self-discipline, order, and respect for others, resulting in a peaceful and harmonious school climate.
MONTESSORI ACROSS THE CURRICULUM
The Montessori method is an educational approach designed to prepare children for life. At the heart of the method is the belief that children possess an innate curiosity about the world around them and a passion for learning. These natural inclinations translate into the child’s desire to engage in authentic, meaningful work.
THE THREE-HOUR WORK CYCLE AND THE THREE-PERIOD LESSON
The Montessori workday is divided into two work cycles. The morning work cycle lasts approximately three hours, with a slightly shorter work cycle in the afternoon. Guides, as teachers in the Montessori classroom are called, adjust the length of the work cycles as needed, based on the developing capabilities of the children. During the morning and afternoon work cycles, children enjoy freedom with limits as they work on activities of their choosing under the gentle direction of the guide. These extended periods of uninterrupted work time provide the child with ample time to explore independently, to engage deeply with the materials, to absorb all that the curriculum has to offer, and to practice his or her focus, concentration, and inner discipline. (A note about terminology: The work cycle can also refer to the manner in which a child chooses an activity, brings it to a mat or table to work on it, and then returns it to its proper place.)
Within the three-hour work cycle, guides rely on the framework of the three-period lesson for presenting new concepts and leading children from a basic understanding to mastery. In the Children’s House and the Elementary level, beautifully crafted and carefully designed materials support new concepts. During the first period, Naming, the object, concept, or process is presented and introduced. The guide invites the child to explore the material in an appropriate way. During the second and longest period, Association/Recognition, the lesson is reviewed and reinforced. During the last phase, Recall, children demonstrate mastery of the concept often via testing mechanisms inherent in the material. With guidance and intervention available as needed, children repeat the first two steps as often as they need to before moving to the final phase.
In the Montessori classrooms, children are grouped according to different planes of development as identified by Dr. Maria Montessori (ages 3-6, 6-9, and 9-12). This approach allows children to work at different paces in different areas. A child can move as far ahead as s/he is ready to in one discipline, but can also spend as much time as needed to master a concept s/he finds challenging.
An additional advantage offered by the multi-age grouping is the increase in opportunities for collaborative, peer-to-peer learning. Children work together and learn from one another in a comfortable atmosphere of cooperation and support. A sense of community develops and strengthens, as does each child’s self-esteem. Guides can witness true mastery in action as a child shows s/he has so internalized a concept that s/he is ready to guide another toward his or her own mastery of the concept.
A final advantage of the multi-age grouping is the strong sense of connection that develops between the children and their guide, and among the children themselves. Children who enter as a three, six or nine year old will benefit from staying in the same class for three years.