The primary aims of Blaisdale Montessori schools, according to their founder, Eleanor Wilson, include
“a sound basis and a healthy attitude for life-long learning, self discipline, self-respect, independence, getting along with others while developing a social conscience, initiative, ability to concentrate, self-confidence, spiritual growth, and a respect for the environment.”
Blaisdale’s Montessori approach
Blaisdale schools are unique in that they use a Montessori approach from preschool to grade 8. The Montessori approach to education is in stark contrast with that used by many traditional schools of today. On this approach, learning is mostly decentralized: children typically work individually or in groups. Teachers provide support and guidance, but only when necessary. And, they rarely give long, whole-class lectures.
How this approach varies at different levels
The approach varies somewhat, though, based on the level of education. In particular, there are different learning priorities at preschool (including toddler and primary programs), elementary school, and middle school.
Preschool: Blaisdale Montessori preschools include a toddler room for kids from birth to age 3. Toddler programs, tend to be play based. Toddlers do, though, learn basic cognitive skills through concrete activities. Preschool also includes a primary or “Casa” class for kids aged 2.5 to 5. This program, like other preschool programs, starts to focus more on cognitive development, with engaging concrete and practical life activities.
Elementary school: Blaisdale elementary programs are divided into classes: one with students ages 6 to 9, and another with students ages 9 to 12. At the elementary level, the focus on concrete learning continues. But there’s increased emphasis on academics, abstract learning, as well as reasoning and problem solving skills. Children also start to improve their language, reading, math, and science skills through independent and group work in the elementary program, with some guidance from the teacher. Teachers also sometimes deliver what are called the great lessons, which are engaging and interactive, and focus on big interdisciplinary topics, such as the beginning of life.
Middle school: The Blaisdale middle school program (grades 7 and 8) stresses self-directed and group learning. Students continue to develop cognitive skills in middle school, through both inter-disciplinary and subject-specific work. At this level, though, Blaisdale teachers start to prepare kids for high school, where they likely won’t be in a Montessori program. There’s more sit-down learning at this level, and students are given workbooks and worksheets, and practice note-taking. They may also be given tests and assignments, which may be graded (at least for practice).
The benefits of a Blaisdale Montessori education
Blaisdale Montessori schools have numerous benefits. These benefits are a product of the Montessori approach, an approach which develops a number of important traits in children of different ages.
- Reasoning and problem solving
- A love of learning
These traits will serve students well in their future education, in high school and university. They’re also, no doubt, invaluable beyond the school years, both at work and home.