Infant Care (8 weeks-13 months)
The goal of our infant care program is to foster the development of trust, assisting in the natural evolution of the young child's personality. We know that trust is cultivated in an environment where teachers respond attentively to the infant's need to be loved and accepted. During these first formative years, we maintain our focus on the infant's need for individual care and attention.
Knowing that infants learn by exploring and by responding to gentle touch, your child is allowed to move freely about and interact with the teachers and their surroundings. Whether they are enthusiastically manipulating an interesting toy, quietly exploring the secrets of a mirror, or calmly enjoying a song, your child is encouraged toward emotional and intellectual independence in the classroom.
The Infant Care at Amarillo Montessori Academy has 2 classrooms. One is our mobile infant classroom and the other is our infant classroom.
Our experienced teachers know that through the quality of holding, feeding, and communicating, children acquire a strong and positive sense of self. Our infant classrooms are rich environments for expanding language.
Infants bring special joy and need special care as they go about their very important and unique work of physical, emotional, and cognitive growth. Our job is to provide an atmosphere that communicates unconditional love and acceptance; in turn, our quality care permits you to feel secure as you attend to your own daily activities.
Toddlers (14 months-2)
The aim of the Amarillo Montessori Academy toddler program is to assist children as they experience the basic human tasks of trust, separation, independence, and self-control. The focus is both on curriculum and materials, and on helping the toddler respond to the rapid and conflicting changes of this developmental age.
In a Montessori toddler environment, children develop feelings of support, security, and self esteem. Children are guided toward appropriate behaviors through a non-judgmental atmosphere that offers consistency; children come to understand the balance between freedom and limits.
Most toddlers quickly adjust to the Montessori environment. Out of their newfound freedom of movement, there eventually comes a flourishing of concentration on an enticing activity. Despite minor distractions, children focus and engage in hands-on activity, music and songs, group time, and they participate both in the daily care of their class and in their own personal care. Patience, self-control, and respect of peers begin to develop, as children become contributing members of their new community.
Toddlers are learning to use language skills, both verbal and non-verbal to solve conflicts in social situations. Your child is maturing his/her ability to carry on extended conversations and request help. Gestures and physical communication remain valid ways of communicating, but they diminish as the child's phrases and simple sentences are understood. As words become a primary means of communication, we must be careful however; not to attribute an understanding to the toddler that he or she does not yet possess.
Our toddler classes incorporate the "High Reach" curriculum into their daily schedule along with the traditional Montessori materials. While the classrooms are rich in materials that promote expanding language, this curriculum allows us to share our curriculum with the parents. "High Reach" provides a take-home packet every month so that parents can collaborate with the teacher by using the same rhymes, songs, stories and vocabulary pictures at home.
Bridge (ages 2-3)
The aim of the Amarillo Montessori Academy Bridge program is to assist children as they prepare for the Pre-K class. The focus is on self -control, potty training and sitting on the line. In a Montessori bridge environment, children develop feelings of support, security, and self esteem. Children are guided toward appropriate behaviors through a non-judgmental atmosphere that offers consistency; children come to understand the balance between freedom and limits.
The certified Montessori teachers guide the children's learning in all areas of the Montessori environment: practical life, sensorial, math, language, science and cultural. The approach is the same as in a pre-K classroom, but the ratios are lower allowing the child to adjust more readily to the environment.
Our bridge classes incorporate the "High Reach" curriculum into their daily schedule along with the traditional Montessori materials. While the classrooms are rich in materials that promote expanding language, this curriculum allows us to share our curriculum with the parents. "High Reach" provides a take-home packet every month so that parents can collaborate with the teacher by using the same rhymes, songs, stories and vocabulary pictures at home.
Pre K (ages 3-6)
The goal of the pre-K (3-6) environment is to cultivate-and be a catalyst to- a child's own natural desire to learn. We encourage children to experience choice and make decisions, empowering them with intrinsic motivation and self-discipline, which strengthens their ability to think and act independently. Teachers guide each child "to do it by myself," thus satisfying the child's basic need for independence. By helping each child believe that they are capable, competent, and confident, we help create positive attitudes toward learning that last a lifetime.
Designed to meet the individual needs of each child, the AMA three to six classrooms feature hands on materials that appeal to all five senses. Practical life, sensorial, language, math and cultural areas are filled with fascinating "work." In addition to absorbing their surroundings through the five senses, children of this age are more responsive to certain learning experiences at particular times.
Dr. Maria Montessori identified these times as "Sensitive Periods," after which the opportunity for maximizing development is lost. During these "Sensitive Periods" learning is most thorough, concentration most intense, and enthusiasm is at its richest. Children pursue, with endless repetition, activities of interest to them. Dr. Montessori identified "Sensitive Periods" for language acquisition, order, detail, censorial exploration, writing, words, numbers, manners and courtesy, and precise movement. Our certified Montessori teachers provide a personalized education that will support the developmental needs of your child. With a maximum staff to student ratio of one to twelve, our teachers are able to focus on these preschool children whose actions have become purposeful and deliberate, allowing the students to mature with their peers and become active caring members of their new community.
"I do not believe there is a method better than the Montessorian for making children sensitive to the beauties of the world and awakening their curiosity regarding the secrets of life." - Living to Tell the Tale by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Elementary (kindergarten-5th grade)
Whereas in a Montessori preschool children work individually and focus on their own rich, inner development, the Montessori elementary student is considered a "child of the world." These children are newly interested in developing and sustaining personal relationships with others and are beginning to look outside of themselves to find their place in the world. They are keenly interested in the world around them. This leads naturally to more group work, more collaborative projects and more emphasis on community involvement.
These ideas are most apparent in the following four aspects of our Montessori elementary program:
In The Classroom
Respect and Responsibility
As far as we know, Montessori is the only educational philosophy that actually provides a specific curriculum for teaching peace. We believe, as Dr. Maria Montessori once said, " Preventing conflict is the work of politics; establishing peace is the work of education." Our peace curriculum emphasizes respect and responsibility for our fellow community members, our environment and ourselves. We have a garden that we plant and tend. We have daily group meetings that allow us to discuss community issues as they arise as well as plan how to use the (considerable) energy of the students to better our classroom community. The teachers model positive conflict resolution and facilitate when conflicts arise between students. Montessori lessons emphasize the interconnectedness of all things and invite the students to express gratitude for the people of the past who have helped our world, and hope for the work future generations will do. Daily lessons on conflict resolution and peacemaking emphasize empathy, active listening and compromise.
The Five Great Lessons
The Five Great Lessons are at the heart of the elementary curriculum and are five stories, told over several months, which start with the broad, sweeping topic of the universe and become more specific in focus with each story told. The First Great Lesson, "The Beginning of the Universe and Earth," tells the story of how the universe came to be; the Second Great Lesson, "The Coming of Life," investigates how life came to earth (beginning with bacteria and continuing through mammals, but not yet including human life); the Third Great Lesson is called "The Coming of Humans" and tells how humans evolved and brought their gifts to the world. The Fourth Great Lesson is "The Coming of Language" and the Fifth Great Lesson is "The Coming of Numbers." The Five Great Lessons are also directly linked to our peace curriculum. They begin, for example, with study on the grandest scale-the entire universe-and continues as the focus becomes more and more specific, ending with humans and their history. The objective of these lessons is to nurture gratitude within the children-gratitude for the environment, for the people around them, for the people who came before us and for the opportunities we all will have to make the world a better, more peaceful place. We believe that gratitude is the basis for finding peace-both within our community and ourselves. A child who feels this gratitude and peace is open to learning new things with a tremendous passion and energy.
We don't give tests. As Dr. Maria Montessori said, "Our aim is not only 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." We believe that the purpose of education should be to inspire a lifelong love of learning and that testing can seriously impede the development of this love within the child. Additionally, we question the validity of tests as an accurate measure of ability or knowledge. Without the artificial deadline of a test, students are free to explore ideas and concepts for as long as they need to fully understand them. Instead of using tests as a measure of student achievement or ability, our teachers closely observe the students as they work and keep detailed notes and records of where each student is within the Montessori elementary curriculum. Throughout the year the children will be saving their work in their classroom portfolio. At the end of the year the teacher and student collaborate in selecting pieces from the year to bind into a progressive, chronological portfolio. This allows everyone to easily view the child's growth and achievements through the year. Our teacher truly know each student as an individual and have an in-depth knowledge of their academic abilities-both areas of strength and those that need further attention.
A central tenet of our Montessori philosophy is that the world is an important classroom-or laboratory- for the elementary child. We don't assign homework for several reasons. First, we encourage our students to spend time with their families. This can be time at home, learning the work of running a household and enjoying each other's company; time exploring the world through family outings and trips; and time spent engaging in sports activities. Additionally, the materials used in the Montessori elementary classroom are unique and specialized. They are usually multi-sensory (that is, they are tactile, visual and even auditory), so there are difficulties replicating the experience of these materials at home. And, finally, the benefits usually derived from homework (self-discipline, time managements skills and the repetition of key concepts) are developed in our elementary classroom as students decide how to balance their time between their various academic subjects. They keep records of where they are within each curriculum and make plans with their teachers each day about how they will spend their time.