“Our aim is not merely to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorize, but so to touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his innermost core. “ Dr. Maria Montessori
About Montessori Programs
At first introduction, Montessori can seem intimidating. Descriptions of Montessori programs can include phrases such as “spontaneous discipline,” ”cosmic understanding” and “sensitive periods,” giving it an air of mystery. In addition, many of the hallmarks of an authentic Montessori school, such as mixed aged classrooms, individualized learning and long, uninterrupted class periods, are foreign to the education most of us experienced. (To see two helpful FAQs on Montessori, go here and here.)
In reality, Montessori is based on some very basic principles that grew out of Dr. Maria Montessori’s scientific observations of young children more than a century ago at the Casa dei Bambini, a school she founded for disabled and underprivileged children in Rome. “It is not true that I invented what is known as the Montessori method, said Dr. Montessori. “I have studied the child, taken what the child has given me and expressed it and that is what is called the Montessori method.”
Montessori works with — not against — human nature to tap a child’s natural curiosity and desire to learn. Dr. Steven Hughes, president of the American Academy of Pediatric Neuropsychology, calls Montessori the first brain-based approach to learning because it is based upon scientific principles of human development.
- Pursue their natural desire to explore and learn
- Develop physically, emotionally and socially
- Become independent and self-motivated
- Develop a lifetime love of learning
- Connect and contribute to their family, community and humanity
We invite you to visit our About Montessori page for more information about the Montessori method and a list of helpful resources.
MMS knows Montessori
Since the beginning, MMS has held fast to the philosophy of Dr. Maria Montessori and the vision of our founder, Mary McKown. MMS is the only school in the area that is staffed by fully certified Montessori teachers and provides an authentic Montessori education to the children of the Kanawha Valley. All lead teachers are certified by the American Montessori Society (AMS) or Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), the two most recognized certification programs worldwide; AMS and AMI requirements generally exceed those of other Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MATCE) programs. AMS and AMI certifications requires sustained on-campus training, testing and collaboration with Montessori educators from around the world. Our faculty brings more than 200 years of professional education experience – 150 in authentic Montessori classrooms — to our school. The MMS curriculum is approved by the Kanawha County Schools. (Please see the Faculty page(s) to learn more about the extensive experience, authentic Montessori certifications and credentials of our teachers and administrative staff.)
Primary (ages 3 to 6): An Environment Designed for your Child
“These words reveal the child’s innermost desire: help me do it by myself.” Dr. Maria Montessori
The three-to-six year old is a very active learner and our environments are designed to give these children the freedom to move and to choose activities based upon their own interests and needs. Materials are carefully chosen to inspire interest and to encourage appreciation of beauty and order. All of the furniture is child-sized and the materials are designed to foster independence. Students are given individual presentations on the materials and are free to choose from a wide choice of activities. All of these activities the lay the foundation of academic learning to come.
The teacher and the assistant closely observe each child’s level of readiness for the next lesson and guide his or her through the comprehensive Montessori curriculum. Children also engage in daily group experiences in order to build community and to develop their social skills. Most importantly, children in the primary community develop a love of their school community and a love of learning, finding peaceful joy in their pursuit of knowledge.
Hours in attendance: Primary children attend five days per week with hours based on age:
- Mornings for children under the age of through 4-1/2 years (8:00 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.)
- Extended Day for children ages 4-1/2 through & 6 years (8:00 a.m. to 2:50 p.m.)
Elementary: A “Cosmic” Approach to Learning
“The things that he sees are not just remembered. They become part of his soul.” Dr. Maria Montessori
In our elementary program, children gain a deep understanding of the hows and whys of the world as they use a discovery-based approach to learning. Our classes are divided into junior elementary (ages 6 to 9) and advanced elementary (ages 9 to 12) groups.
Elementary students connect subjects together in a meaningful or “cosmic” way and they explore the interrelationships that exist among all of the math, language and cultural subjects. (See the Five Great Lessons.)
Our Montessori elementary teachers are passionate about giving lessons that inspire their students to learn through exploring and using their imaginations. Lessons are personalized and given at each student’s pace, capitalizing on the student’s particular areas of interest. Hands-on materials are used to clarify abstract ideas and independent work is encouraged. Students often work in small groups or with mentors to help them learn to work cooperatively to develop strong social skills.
All of the aspects of the elementary community are designed to support the strong social needs of the students. They develop collaborative skills, self-confidence, leadership skills and compassion through their group work. Our teachers are also skilled guides in helping the children to work through conflict, helping them to solve their own issues in a kind and compassionate way.
The Montessori elementary curriculum is divided into six subject areas: math, language, history, geography, biology and geometry. Using concrete, semi-concrete and abstract materials, the students are giving individual and small group lessons in each subject area. Follow-up work is done independently with careful teacher guidance. Teachers conduct daily assessments of each child and plan lessons accordingly.
Off campus learning, including three-day educational sessions at The Mountain Institute for advanced students, is an important element of the elementary curriculum.
Based on our 38 years of experience, students who complete our elementary program are extremely well-prepared to be successful in whatever future educational setting they choose.
Hours in attendance: elementary students attend school from 8:00 a.m. to 2:50 p.m.
Off Campus Learning
“Education is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences upon the environment.” Dr. Maria Montessori
Off campus learning is a major component of the Montessori approach to education. Children at all levels enrich their academic lessons through multi-sensorial learning experiences off campus, including field trips and other interactive activities. These include an annual three-day session at The Mountain Institute at Spruce Knob for advanced students.
Physical education and movement
“Movement, or physical activity, is an essential factor in intellectual growth.” Dr. Maria Montessori
Physical activity is integral to a Montessori education. Primary students enjoy activity in our beautiful campus outdoor environment, while junior and advanced elementary students particulate in a full physical education curriculum. Utilizing facilities at the University of Charleston pool and Triana Field, along with those in the outdoor environment, Nancy Johnston and other members of our full-time AMS trained faculty help children develop a positive attitude toward the improvement of physical health, strength and coordination. Sixth grade students are eligible to participate in the MMS Cross Country team, which competes against other Kanawha County Middle Schools.
Art is an important element in the Montessori integrated approach to learning. Under the direction of art teachers Barrie Kaufman and Nancy Johnston and classroom teachers, including David Pushkin, a former professor of fine art at at American, Columbia and Hofstra Universities, students learn to communicate and express themselves visually in a variety of mediums.
Music and performing arts
The MMS music curriculum helps children develop language, memory, math, social and emotional skills as well as build a lifetime appreciation of the arts. Music faculty members include Karen Morris, a trained Kindermusik and Orff method music instructor, Bernard DiGregorio, principal violist with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, and Ron Sowell, music director of Mountain Stage (artist-in-residence). An annual performance for parents and the community provides a showcase for students to communicate through vocal and instrumental music, drama, dance and movement. (Take a look at our 2013 show, which featured the premiere of Life-Lights and other presentations.) The annual performance includes original music, composed by our students during workshops facilitated by a professional songwriting team. “At Mountaineer Montessori,” the MMS school song, is one of the many delightful original compositions written by our students through this annual project. We invite you to you to take a listen.
MMS Plus Program
At Mountaineer Montessori, the learning doesn’t end at 3:00 p.m. Our Plus program provides a consistent Montessori environment for your child before or after his or her regular class schedule. Children can chose from a variety of age-appropriate materials and enjoy our beautiful outdoor environment as weather permits. Plus teachers are committed to the Montessori philosophy, and maintain the same level of care and respect for children that they experience in their classrooms.
Hours in attendance:
Early morning drop-off: 6:45- 7:45 a.m.
First and second year Primary students: 12:00-3:00 p.m.
Primary and Elementary students: 3:00-5:30 p.m.
Year-Round Learning: Summer Camp Programs
MMS offers a variety of experiential learning sessions during summer months. These popular programs are led by educators with experience in classroom and camp settings and incorporate a Montessori approach to summer exploration. On-site and off-campus sessions are offered; many include swimming lessons at the University of Charleston. After care is available for an additional charge.