La Mariposa Montessori is founded upon the principles of Dr. Maria Montessori, that education is a life long endeavor and that it is every child's right to grow and develop in an atmosphere of love and respect and be simultaneously guided to reach his or her own unique potential. Montessori communities are multi-graded and individual learning styles and rates of development are respected and supported. Lessons are given in small groups to encourage dialogue and to determine precise levels of comprehension and mastery. Every aspect of the program has been carefully designed to assist children in their development.
The Prepared Environment
The key element of our Montessori programs is the prepared environment, indoors and out. It is this environment which enables children to be self-directed, independent and able to develop active learning skills. The teacher must continually prepare and adapt the environment to meet the individual needs of each child in order to nurture the children's natural curiosity and desire to learn. The prepared environment is what allows children to move at their own rate of development through self-correcting, autodidactic, manipulative classroom materials that span the entire scope of the elementary curriculum and serve as a launchpad for studies that traditional students don't have access to before they attend secondary schools.
Self-correcting Didactic Materials
Dr. Montessori designed learning materials which are self correcting and encourage "hands on" learning. With these materials, children master concepts in geography, geometry, math, botany, zoology, science, grammar, language, history, music and art. The so-called “auto-didactic” materials are perhaps the most widely implemented and copied contributions made by Dr Montessori to the practice of education all over the world. In each discipline the materials are designed to introduce key skills or concepts and provide a forum for practice and self-perfection, leading each child, on his or her own timetable, to a firm abstract grasp of the concept. The materials are introduced in sequences that allow children to explore the full scope of the curriculum at their own pace. Teachers, or guides, simply introduce the materials and observe closely as children work, to see when the child or group is ready for another level of difficulty or complexity.
Teacher as Scientist, Observer, and Guide
The role of the teacher in a Montessori environment is quite unique. The teacher serves as a link between the children and the environment, attracting the children's natural curiosity and inspiring their desire to understand more deeply.
Since knowledge is not “delivered” by the teacher, but constructed by the child through interaction with the environment, the preparation and continual adaptation of this environment are the teacher's most vital roles. Well thought-out lessons put the child in touch with essential concepts and compelling questions, and a classroom culture of freedom balanced with responsibility facilitates productive, self-regulated exploration on the part of the children. It is not unusual for children to surpass the classroom teacher's level of knowledge. In all areas, children are taught to be active participants in their learning, to utilize resources in their environment to achieve their personal goals, and to evaluate their own work in order to take ownership their development.