One mama shares why she loves Montessori
By Debbie Vuillemot
We are the parents of 4 children: Orion,7; Anais, 5; Elias, 3; and Akira, 1.
When Orion was 3, we were overwhelmed with how many choices there were for preschool. We started off in a twice-weekly church preschool and quickly realized he needed more stimulation. One of my co-workers told me about Montessori School of Yakima (MSY) where her child attended.
The focus is hands-on, concrete learning by the child and child-driven choices from activities made available by the teacher. Teachers are trained to observe the child and provide what the child needs at any given time, changing as the child changes. This education technique was developed by Maria Montessori, an Italian physician, who became interested in the plight of children and changed her career focus to understanding the true nature of the child. She was also active in the women’s rights movement in the early 1900s and was an advocate for peace.
The classes are set up in three-year age spans (3-6 yrs and 6-9yrs) so children can learn from each other as well as from an adult. The adult serves as a guide to help children learn to do tasks by themselves. In preschool and kindergarten, lessons are given individually to the child and then the child can choose which “work” to engage with during the day. There is also music, circle time (or triangle or square time), books and games. In the elementary class, the children learn in a more social setting and lessons are usually in small groups. The child self directs but does have requirements in standard academic areas.
The great thing about the Montessori way is the spill over to our home. We hear the way the older children teach the younger ones when we listen to their play. In recent conversations between our 5 year old and 3 year old: “Let’s count our fruit snacks. Now eat one and let’s count again.” “I say a word, now you rhyme it.” “Elias, did you have a lesson today?”
The other thing we love is community. We’ve developed friendships with other families and their children who are all learning in the same way.
MSY is non-profit and has been in operation for more than 40 years. All of the teachers are Montessori certified — and wonderful! Before- and after-school care is available. There are four preschool/K classrooms and one first-through-third grade classroom. Parents are part of the board. Visitors are always welcome by appointment. Call 966-0680. We’re located in Englewood Christian Church at 511 N 44th Ave in Yakima. Website: www.msofy.org
Debbie Vuillemot is a mother of four, professional midwife and serves on the board of the Montessori School of Yakima.
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