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What creates that desire for a student to dive deep into a new topic? At Rogers Park Montessori, we see this drive come forward through the cadence in the classroom of uninterrupted periods of work time, independent and collaborative learning opportunities, the freedom of choice and risk, varied physical spaces that support both the materials and the individual student, and the trained, gentle guidance of the Montessori teachers.
The beauty of the Montessori materials and tasks begins at the age of 2 as teachers draw the child into new tasks and through the process of nurturing children’s natural inquisitiveness. Natural materials are used to create beautiful, enticing Montessori manipulative materials. These “works” are child-sized, sensorial, purposeful, self-correcting and self-teaching. A prepared classroom environment draws children to focus on their tasks while not being overwhelmed.
As you walk down the halls of Rogers Park Montessori School, children are in the gallery, nestled in the window seats, stretched out with long works in the hallway outside their class, and in each corner of the room. Opportunities abound to discover places to take a work, whether independently, with a partner, or group, and really maximize the immersion in a work. This allows them also to have their physical body match a work - stretched out on a rug, sitting at a table, in a circle on a rug, or nestled in a comfy chair to read.
Each program level has dedicated long work times which allow the natural rhythm of the student to allow them one day to spend an hour on one project, and additional time throughout the school day to have a presentation from a teacher with time to work on that particular skill, and periods where they may choose to spend shorter periods of time working on smaller tasks or projects, edit a paper written yesterday in the long work time.
The Montessori teacher knows that joy comes from INSIDE the child. They cannot force a student to experience joy any more than they can command them to learn. In the Montessori Curriculum our teachers cultivate experiences and opportunities for spontaneous joy coupled with intentional learning. Joy reveals itself through busy, natural learning where children are free to move about and talk to one another, a place where community flourishes along with individual learning. Children who freely choose their work and develop their own inner teacher are happy children. They find comfort, routine and joy through the very process of their work. In whatever form it takes, concentrated work is the key to a child’s joy in school.
In the self-paced, self-directed learning environment, our students learn by doing, and learning is situated in real-world applications and contexts. In this way, we are unfolding students, not molding them.
"The greatest sign of success for a teacher... is to be able to say, 'The children are now working as if I did not exist."
Dr. Maria Montessori