Montessori school philosophy
Montessori schools in Pickering and Ajax employ a unique approach, one which tends to differ from that of mainstream schools. While most Montessori schools follow this approach, how it’s applied can vary between schools and levels of education (for instance, preschools and high schools).
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That said, most Montessori schools in Ajax and Pickering follow some essential principles. Some of the main ones are described below.
- Mixed-age classrooms: Most Montessori schools in the Pickering and Ajax region, like other Montessori schools, have mixed-age classrooms. Classrooms are usually organized in three-year age groupings. This includes toddler (0-3), preschool (3-6), lower elementary (6-9), and upper elementary (9-12) programs. Mixed-age classrooms promote plenty of interaction, as well as a dynamic classroom with lots of child-to-child teaching and stimulating work.
- Child-centred: Montessori schools in Pickering and Ajax have an usual approach to learning. Kids don’t set at desks and listen to teachers lecture. Rather, they move around the class, and work independently and in groups.
- Individualized curriculum: There is no standardized curriculum. Instead, teaching and learning is tailored to individual students. Kids tend to work at their own pace and select many of their own tasks, with guidance from the teacher. They also don’t move on to a new task until they’ve completed the developmentally appropriate one.
- Hands-on learning: Similar to Waldorf, concrete learning is a major focus at Montessori schools. At the earlier levels especially, kids do lots of concrete work. They work with special Montessori materials, called “manipulatives,” which are both challenging and self-correcting. This is believed to speed up learning, and make it more efficient and engaging.
- Focus on work: Even at the earlier levels, Montessori schools tend to prioritize work over play. Many preschools, for instance, focus just as much (if not more) on task-oriented work than play. Some schools also discourage dramatic or imaginative play.
- Uninterrupted work periods: Many Montessori schools give students daily uninterrupted work time. These are blocks of time, sometimes as long as three hours, where kids are meant to focus on work, free of distractions and interruptions. It’s believed this can improve children’s focus, concentration, and discipline.
- Integrated curriculum: Subjects are rarely taught on their own, separate from all other subjects. There tends to be more of an interdisciplinary approach, where several subjects are taught together, such as math, science, history, and theology.
Montessori teaching approach
Pickering and Ajax Montessori schools have an unconventional teaching approach. Teachers rarely stand at the front of the classroom or provide whole-class lectures. The one exception is when they deliver great lessons at the start of the school year. But even these tend to be more interactive and engaging than traditional lectures.
The role of the teacher is more of a guide or mentor. Teachers walk around the classroom, offering guidance to students, either one-on-one or in small groups. They also help connect kids with meaningful and developmentally appropriate work.
Ideally, though, teachers “stay out of the way” unless their help is needed. The thinking is that students shouldn’t be interrupted when involved in engaging work. It’s also believed that kids benefit more from student-to-student teaching than teacher-to-student teaching.
Choosing a Pickering or Ajax Montessori school
A Montessori school in Pickering, Ajax, or neighbouring regions, such as Oshawa, Whitby, and Scarborough, can be a great option for many families. Most of these schools are accredited by a world-class certifying institute, such as the CCMA or AMI. They also normally have teachers with both general teaching credentials and Montessori specific training.
It’s important to research any prospective school carefully. You want to choose the right school for your child and your family. Be sure to visit the school, talk with school officials, and ask plenty of questions, including:
- Do the school’s values match your own?
- Does the school have a supportive learning environment (for instance, does it support children with special needs)?
- How does the school assess student progress?
- What is the average class size and student-to-teacher ratio of the school?
- What is the location of the school?
- What is the cost of the school?
For a list of questions to ask private schools, read our comprehensive guide to private school questions.
On this page, we list Montessori schools in Pickering and Ajax, Ontario. To learn more about a school, including how to register your child, click on a school profile.