Countryside Frequently Asked Question’s
- Why should you choose Countryside Day for your child?
- What does Countryside have to offer that my child can’t get at other schools?
- How do you make the classrooms so peaceful?
- Why do you have mixed age groups?
- How do you approach discipline?
- Why five days per week?
- How do the children know what to do when?
- Why so many children in each class?
- Why the commitment to remain for kindergarten?
- What method of discipline do Montessori teachers use?
- Why is the teacher/child ratio higher in Montessori schools?
- Why don’t children in Montessori classrooms have homework?
- Why are the children in the older grades (1st – 6th) not assigned grades and report cards?
Between the ages of two to six is when most of your child’s intelligence and social characteristics are formed. This is also when your child is most receptive, curious, and excited about exploring the world around him or her. Countryside’s classrooms nurture that excitement and curiosity by offering a variety of materials to stimulate and intrigue your child.
Our teachers are trained to recognize when a child is ready to learn a new skill, and to foster his or her natural instincts and abilities. Your child is valued as an independent thinker, and encouraged to make choices on his own.
A Countryside Day education provides students of all ages with information in a way they can understand it and enjoy it — learning is fun, empowering, and custom-fit to suit your child’s individual learning style.
Countryside Day’s approach to education is unique. You will see that the minute you walk into one of our classrooms. The materials used to teach reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, science, music, social studies are all unique to the Montessori classroom.
The classroom materials used for our youngest students take abstract ideas and put them in a concrete form that makes sense to these developing minds. Students learn to learn from their peers, and respect their own and each other’s ability to be a teacher as well as a student. Finally, our teachers are primarily observers of their students, stepping in when they see a child is “stuck” or ready to learn a new skill. This allows the children to learn independently, with the guidance and support of our teachers whose primary focus is observing how your child learns, and tapping into those styles and approaches that work best for your child.
It is our primary goal to help the children develop the qualities of respect, responsibility, and resourcefulness. This guides every decision we make. If children are not behaving responsibly they are held accountable for their actions. But most notably, Montessori believed, as do we, that this peaceful and self-directed child is the true child, not the disorderly and defiant child. If children are in an environment of respect and are expected to act respectfully they will follow suit.
If you want children to become responsible young adults they must have opportunities to practice at a young age. A mixed age group allows children of different ages and abilities to help each other and thus learn responsibility. In a mixed age class it is not always the teacher who solves problems. In fact more often it is not. Instead it is another child. This is not possible in a class with children all of the same age and abilities.
Since no two children grow and mature in exactly the same way the materials available to the children are varied and numerous. The proper activity for the right moment is there to be introduced to the child when he is ready or chosen by him as his interests dictate. Thus, no child is held back if his skills indicate a need to move on, nor is a child pressured to keep pace with skills he is not yet ready to master. The sensitive periods of each child can be capitalized upon in a multi-age classroom.
It is our goal to have children internalize good behavior, not just respond to an adult. To do this we again are focused on respect, responsibility and resourcefulness. But children do not come to us with all of these qualities in place. When a child behaves in a manner that is unacceptable he is held accountable with a logical consequence, one that is related to the misbehavior.
For example, if a child chooses a particular material and is using it incorrectly, perhaps even damaging it, he will at first be redirected to use it appropriately. If this does not remedy the problem the child will be told to put the material away and may not be able to use it again for several days.
We do not use time outs. If a child is consistently running in the class endangering himself and others, he might be asked to stay with the teacher or to stay seated at a table. But this problem was related to movement, thus the consequence is the restriction of movement. This is not the same as the notion of a time out.
If you want children to develop the qualities of respect, responsibility and resourcefulness they need consistency. They need many opportunities to practice. If they are only coming a few days per week, they do not really feel the classroom is their own. They are only partially attached, and therefore do not develop a strong desire to be responsible for it.
On a child’s first days of school he is given several lessons each day. Once given a lesson a child may choose that material without asking permission. The materials in a Montessori classroom were initially chosen by trial and error. Only those most interesting to the children were kept in the classrooms. So the children are naturally attracted to what is here. If, however, a child is not working in a particular area, for instance writing, this would be observed by the teacher and she would direct that the child take out writing work. So it is not just “do what you want.”
This is a matter of philosophy, not economics. If you want children to become resourceful and responsible they must have opportunities to solve their own problems. The more adults in the class, the fewer opportunities for the children. The ratio we adhere to is what is required by the Association Montessori Internationale. It was specifically established to allow the children to become independent and self-confident.
The Montessori Pre-K / Kindergarten program is one that builds each year upon the year previous. When a child starts in the class at 3 or 4 years of age he is guided and shepherded not only by his teacher but also by the older children in the class. In the beginning the child appreciates the help and guidance that is offered to him. But as he grows a bit older, he starts to aspire to that position of leadership himself. He slowly starts to see himself as capable of offering that help rather than just receiving it. When his last year in the Pre-K / Kindergarten program finally arrives, he is well aware of his responsibilities and assumes them with joy. All that he has watched his older classmates do for two years is now his to do. To the children it is like their senior year in high school. If you understand the Montessori philosophy and fully appreciate what the program offers the children, this idea is not a difficult one to understand and the commitment is not a difficult one to make.
Teachers at Countryside do not follow a single methodology, nor do they have a standard approach to discipline. Like all other aspects of Montessori education, discipline for each child is created in response to specific needs and unique challenges.
Disciplinary exchanges always reflect Countryside’s mission statement: children learn to accept responsibility for their actions, to treat their peers and adults with respect and to be resourceful in solving problems and resolving conflicts.
One of the primary goals of a Montessori education is to guide children toward independence. For this reason, Montessori classrooms are deliberately larger than many other environments for young children, and include children of mixed ages working collaboratively with very little adult interference.
Children in Montessori classrooms learn to work independently, to make intelligent choices based on their interests and abilities, and to rely on their peers for help, encouragement and guidance.
For many families the question of homework is a vexing one. How can the children at CDS manage to surpass the learning that is required by local public curriculum without the hours of homework assigned to their neighborhood counterparts? How do the children learn to write in cursive and read by the end of kindergarten?
The classroom environments at CDS inspire children not just to learn – but rather to love learning. The teachers are passionate which infects the children with interest. Curriculum is not pre-determined day to day, so children are allowed to explore their interests in real time, not three hours later in their bedrooms at their desks (when their interest is long gone and their thoughts are distracted by the many other things they would rather be doing).
The children at CDS are granted the freedom to work on the subjects that inspire them at the time that inspiration is born. Their interests are peaked by the many different works going on around them in the classroom. The joy of collaborative work is irresistible. With this, there is no limit to what they can learn.
For the budding student this is the surest way to limit inspiration and retard the development of self-assessment. The joy for CDS children is in the learning itself. They are working and acquiring knowledge because they are excited by the possibility of how far they can pursue any interest.
Rather than grade the children on how well they learned the countries of North America, after which it is clear there is no reason to go on, CDS children continue on to learning the countries of South America, Europe, Asia, and on and on. They ask for the opportunity to evaluate their own knowledge by testing themselves or making presentations to their classmates.
The teachers are in continuous contact with each child offering honest reflections and soliciting discussion about whether he or she is working up to potential. Each child asks himself: “How much can I do?” (Not, “How much do I have to do?”) And, “How well have I done it?” (Not, “Was it good enough for an A?”) This sense of personal responsibility is the preparation necessary for the competitive 21st century.