Wildflower fosters constant mindfulness through an emphasis on deep concentration, integration of mind and body, and purposeful work, in a simple and beautiful environment.
Deep concentration and focus are hallmarks of a Montessori environment. By providing a prepared environment that allows children to engage independently in age-appropriate multi-sensory work, we support the children in developing concentrated interest and the satisfaction that comes from the full absorption of the mind. We observe that the child’s natural tendency is to be fully absorbed, and that adult societies tend to overly interrupt and rush children. We aim to provide an environment that allows time and space for the deep absorption that is natural to children, deepening their awareness of self and love of learning.
Further, the materials and activities available in the classroom are designed to foster attention. From the precision required to complete activities like the pink tower, to the practice of of silence that happens at the peace table, Montessori activities are designed to engage a child’s natural capacity for attention. These skills become part of a child’s learning process, whether identifying bird calls on the way to the playground, comparing shades of graded colors, or identifying the final sound when composing a word.
In our classroom, children engage in purposeful work with real tools. Tasks such as preparing snack, caring for plants, or sanding a wooden chair require child-sized glassware and utensils, gardening gloves, and sandpaper. By providing the necessary tools and instructions, children are no longer excluded from participation in activities that were once seen as adult work. This ability to contribute in a real way to the world resonates deeply with children. They feel an authentic sense of importance and purpose, whether it be from baking bread for snack, setting the lunch table, creating flower arrangements for the classroom, scrubbing the table after painting, or deadheading a plant to allow for new growth.
MIND BODY INTEGRATION
The integration of mind and body is ever-present in our classroom. Children are free to move around the classroom on their own initiative, exercising their gross motor capacities as needed, while the precise and mindful use of Montessori materials exercise the children’s fine-motor capacities. The Montessori practice of “Walking on the Line” is an age-appropriate version of walking meditation, where children pay close attention to the feeling of each step, and, yoga is intertwined throughout the day, as our teachers are practicing yogis.
The Montessori curriculum integrates all senses. Each material in the sensorial curriculum isolates a sense, and allows children to experience concrete materials of size, shape, color, sound, taste, weight, and temperature. These materials allow children to simply be, listen, observe, match, sort, and grade. This independent ability to order and make sense of one’s environment creates a calming feeling of well-being.
Absence of movement is also practiced, playing the silence game, actively listening to music, or simply being engaged in work. Children feel a sense of peace and joy at this culmination of exercises that help develop complete control over one’s body.
SIMPLICITY AND BEAUTY
Our classroom is one of beauty and simplicity. Beautifully designed and simply ordered materials are placed on uncluttered, open shelves. There is only one of each material, and only the necessary materials are available with each exercise. Nature is ever-present in the classroom, with large, hand-crafted planters carrying plants to resemble an indoor forest. The external order and beauty of the classroom inspires internal order and beauty in the child.
WHAT IS MONTESSORI?
Maria Montessori’s original observations of children, over one hundred years ago, stand true today: that children are naturally good, naturally peaceful, and naturally motivated to learn. The scientific principles of observation, analysis, reflection and action helped her to develop specific materials and methods for serving children. We believe these same principles can be used in Montessori classrooms today, to serve the children in the environment and to help translate Montessori’s original vision to the demands of our modern world.
WHO WAS DR. MARIA MONTESSORI?
Maria Montessori was an Italian physician and educational theorist in the early twentieth century whose observations of children revolutionized the field of early childhood education. One of the first female physicians in Italy, Montessori had few opportunities to practice medicine and found herself working in large institutions with individuals with intellectual impairments. Montessori applied the same principles of the scientific method to her practice with young children in the institution, experimenting with materials, language and learning structures until she identified a strategy through which the institutionalized children were able to pass and excel on state achievement tests. Her curiosity led her to apply these same strategies with typically developing children although she remained limited in the environments open to her work.
In 1906, Montessori convinced the owner of a tenement house in San Lorenzo, Rome, to give her the use of one of the apartments in the building in exchange for her promise to tend to the children of working families during the day. The first Montessori school was born.
WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT THE MONTESSORI METHOD?
A physical environment designed to be accessible to the children: from the size of the chairs to the height of the ceilings, each component of a Montessori classroom is ideally designed to create a “children’s house,” complete with everything a child needs for his or her independence at a scale appropriate for the child.
Concrete, didactic, self-correcting materials: the Montessori materials are truly the shining stars of the Montessori classrooms. From simple materials that introduce pouring grains and spooning beans to advanced materials that expand on complex mathematical principles, the Montessori materials are designed to allow independent exploration of complicated concepts. Because the materials are so carefully designed to match what we understand about children’s development, the concepts included often surpass the content we typically expect of young children. High-quality, beautiful materials entice the child to explore challenging concepts in ways that reflect specific qualities of children’s growth.
A multiage environment within which children typically spend three years: the multiage classroom allows children to learn from each other, to explore a variety of social roles in authentic ways, and to cycle through periods of extraordinary growth and reassuring rest. Over the course of three years, children are learners and teachers, leaders and followers, sometimes engaged in independent work and sometimes engaged in work with other children. By the end of the three years, the child’s confidence, self-efficacy and ability to collaborate with others reflects these invaluable experiences as part of a reliable community.
Specially educated teachers: the Montessori teacher’s role differs from that of a traditional teacher: Montessori teachers are expected to act as scientists in the classroom, carefully observing each child’s development to prepare an environment which is specifically responsive to the needs of the children it serves. Montessori teachers facilitate children’s curiosity by matching individual lessons to individual children.
Child-centered and child-directed curriculum: In an carefully prepared environment rich in high quality materials and supported by expert teachers, the curriculum can closely follow the interests and rhythms of each child. Children choose the materials of interest to them and are introduced to new materials in the classroom when they are developmentally appropriate for the child. The teacher’s role is especially important to this model: teachers must be able to observe children carefully to determine the subtle cues that indicate a child’s readiness for differing work and must document each child’s development to assure steady and balanced development.