The ultimate goal of an education is authentic, holistic independence. At Guidepost Montessori, we offer this to your child, in the fullest possible sense. Your child will gain the knowledge, confidence, creativity, and social ability that allow him to choose his own goals, whatever they may be, and pursue them over time. These are the qualities of character and mind that add up to a fulfilling adult life.
The Montessori approach to education was developed a century ago by Maria Montessori. Montessori was an Italian doctor and educational visionary who took on the task of educating some of society’s poorest and seemingly least-able children. Drawing from emerging insights in learning theory and developmental psychology, Montessori created an educational approach that was so successful that her students greatly surpassed well-off students in traditional early education programs in every respect: self-control, manners and sociability, and academic learning. Over the last hundred years her timeless practice has been refined.
The things he sees are not just remembered; they form a part of his soul.MARIA MONTESSORI
Our programs feature an authentic and timely implementation of Montessori, offering a lifetime of gifts to your child. In the Montessori classroom, your child has the opportunity to explore who he is and to explore his world. He’ll be given the time and space he needs to learn how he learns best, learn to work with others, and discover and pursue his passions. Each program — infant, toddler, children's house, and elementary — is specially tuned to the developmental needs of children of that age.
An Environment Prepared to Build Competence
Children are born with an eagerness to explore the world, learning through all of their senses. The Montessori classroom offers your child the opportunity to explore, to act independently, and to follow his own interests. With mastery of each new skill, your child's confidence grows.
Montessori describes the child’s message to the adult: “Help me to do it by myself!” The Montessori classroom, carefully prepared for each age, is designed to do just that. The innovation at the foundation of the Montessori approach is the idea that learning thrives in a prepared environment that entices and inspires your child, so that his own natural curiosity drives learning and growth as he develops a powerful sense of his own internal drive to learn. When the environment is prepared in this way, a child's self-initiated actions help him develop knowledge and skills.
Each child's classroom offers a wide range of activities just at his level. Each lesson is inspiring and enticing—tailored to fit the developmental stages that every growing child experiences. Even the very youngest child is encouraged to do things for herself, to the full extent that she is able. The “practical life” activities give children the opportunity to learn and practice real, purposeful life tasks, like sweeping a floor, scrubbing a table, planting a garden, washing real dishes, or preparing food to share with others in the community.
As their skills grow, children develop persistence, and come to implicitly view themselves as capable, able to learn and overcome challenges.
Concentration and Work
One of the crucial keys to long-term success in life is the ability to concentrate. Concentration, or mental focus, allows a person to efficiently complete a short-term task, but also gives a person the ability to hold a larger goal in mind, and pursue the incremental steps necessary to achieve it. This grit, persistence, and ability to stick with something is essential to succeeding at any work — and it’s also essential to enjoying it, to experiencing the special satisfaction that only comes from something hard-earned.
Mental focus is a learned skill; it must be practiced. In the Montessori classroom, an extended, uninterrupted work period combines with freely-chosen and deeply engaging activities to gradually build a child’s ability to focus. Montessori activities are designed to take time and grow in complexity. The school day is structured so that a child is free to engage for as long as he would like, without interruption. From Children’s House on, each day includes at least one “work cycle”: an uninterrupted, three-hour work period.
Like working out a muscle, a child's ability to concentrate improves gradually over time, through work that is pursued joyously, and feels like play. This essential skill supports all learning that will follow.
The first essential for the child’s development is concentration. The child who concentrates is immensely happy.MARIA MONTESSORI
A Guidepost Montessori classroom is full of activities that your child will love! These enticing activities are just at your child's level, and are designed to help her joyfully build something that will last a lifetime: her own character, her own understanding — in a word, herself! Building something this special is important, so Montessori called these simple but powerful activities your child’s “work.”
A Socially-Rich, Mixed-Age Community
Our Montessori classrooms are designed for mixed ages, encompassing a full three-year age range once children leave toddlerhood and enter our Children’s House program. The wide range of abilities and personalities in a mixed-age classroom creates natural opportunities for children to learn to appreciate individual differences in people, and affords a variety of social opportunities. In the mixed-age classroom, younger children look up to, and are inspired by older children, while older children become leaders, mentors, helpers, and role models for them.
The mixed-age environment also encourages cooperation. Children in a mixed-age classroom pursue a variety of work, at a variety of levels. They work busily alongside one another, and depending on their age and the activity they’ve chosen, they may work alone, in small groups, or alongside their friends.
Because of the three-year age range in the classroom, your young child can look ahead, knowing that if another child learned to master the activity step-by-step, she too can learn! In this way, she absorbs a foundational growth mindset — a bedrock belief in her own ability to learn through effort.
Foundational Knowledge from the Very Beginning
A Guidepost Montessori classroom offers each child a rich and extensive knowledge base, shared through a carefully-sequenced curriculum designed with the flexibility to adapt to a child's pace and interests. Each student's work is fueled by her own motivation to learn — strengthened by past accomplishments, and inspired as she sees the work of older children.
In traditional childcare or daycare settings, young children have little or no opportunity to pursue reading and writing, gain fluency with numbers and geometry, explore basic scientific principles, plants and animals, or learn geography, culture, and history. The Montessori curriculum, by contrast, exposes the child to all of this, providing a rich academic content in the form of hundreds of beautiful, carefully-sequenced manipulative materials and lessons — all offered in a way that taps into the child’s own natural developmental interest and brings out each child's joy in learning.
A Budding Sense of Self
As a child follows her own interest and pursues the work that inspires her most, she develops a strong sense of self. Over time, she'll learn to manage larger projects and will take greater and greater responsibility over her own learning.
Because the adult's role in the Montessori classroom is so different from that of a traditional teacher, often the word “guide” is used to describe her. A Montessori guide spends a lot of time observing, getting to know each child so that she can suggest work that interests your child, and provide coaching with interpersonal skills, work habits, or in other areas.
The adults in the classroom work diligently in the background to encourage and facilitate purposeful activity, without drawing attention to themselves. As children learn and grow comfortable with the community ground rules, a busy, happy hum of activity develops.
Children are largely self-sufficient, choosing their work and completing activities at their own pace. The guide gives individualized lessons and personalized guidance to each child, tailored to his learning path. She meticulously tracks each child’s progress through the Montessori lessons that form the curriculum, and she observes children attentively, to determine how and when to challenge or engage each one based on his or her own developmental interests and needs. Throughout, your child has the opportunity to direct herself, to choose her work, and to request the lessons that she would like to receive next.
Montessori Nido Community
6 weeks through ~16 months
The Montessori “Nido” is a calm, cozy, homelike environment for babies three-months-old and up. “Nido,” which means “nest” in Italian, captures the idea of warmth and security. Maria Montessori used this word to describe the infant classroom, within which little people feel cared for and loved, so that they will feel safe to explore and grow!
Strong Bodies and Coordinated Movement
Much of your baby’s energy early on will go toward building gross motor ability, as he learns to hold up his head, roll over, push up off the ground, sit up, stand, walk, climb, etc. Successful development in this area sets the stage for strength and coordination later in life, which are necessary to enjoy sports, dance, or daily life recreational activities.
For babies to fully learn to do all these things, they must have time, space, and freedom to move, so that they can practice each individual step along the way. When you first visit a Montessori Nido community, you’ll probably notice that there are no playpens, no jumpers, no walkers, and no high chairs—nothing that restricts your baby’s movement.
Your tiny baby is trying new things all the time. Each time your baby practices a new skill, and then masters it, she strengthens the sense of confidence that will stay with her throughout her lifetime. Even your tiny baby imitates others, and can begin to take small steps towards independent self-care. Your Montessori guides will gently support your baby to learn to do things for herself, striking just the right balance between making your little one feel safe and loved, and identifying the right moment to encourage her to try something new.
Trust in Self and in the World
Following your baby's natural schedule encourages him to trust his body, and encourages a healthy relationship to sleeping, eating, and toileting. In the Montessori Nido, we observe your baby's natural cycle of feeding, sleeping, and biological functions, and provide for his needs on his own schedule. This way, your little one develops a basic sense of security and trust in the world: at a fundamental level, he learns that he is taken care of, that his needs will be provided for. As he learns each step towards meeting those needs himself — crawling towards his sleeping area, feeding himself, or signing that his diaper is wet — his trust in himself grows, too!
Hand Development = Brain Development
Maria Montessori famously observed that “the hand is the instrument of the intelligence.” She understood that your baby uses her hand to fuel the development of her brain and nervous system. In a few short months, your baby goes from involuntary and reflexive movements, to intentionally batting and grabbing at objects, then to releasing something once she has grasped it. From there, she learns more refined grasping abilities, including the all-important “pincer grip” later used for holding a pencil. She transfers things from hand to hand, and coordinates her two hands for a chosen purpose (such as to bang things together!).
Our classroom carefully nurtures your baby’s developing intelligence by offering increasingly more complex objects to explore and manipulate in intriguing ways. You’ll be amazed at how your child will learn, when simply given time and space to practice the activities that respond exactly to precise moments in her development!
The infant in arms has far greater mental energies than are usually imagined.MARIA MONTESSORI
Montessori Toddler Community
age varies by child: typically 18 months to 3 years old
Toddlerhood is a time of astonishing growth. In the short span of a year or so, your child experiences an explosion of language, along with dramatic advancement in fine and gross motor control, problem-solving ability, independence, and social interaction. The Montessori Toddler classroom offers an environment and a community keyed to nurturing these skills, fostering their development at the best possible time for the child.
Between the ages of one and three, a toddler will go from speaking two-word phrases all the way to full sentences, using correct grammar. To reduce the typical frustration that toddlers feel when they don’t yet have the skill to share their needs and preferences, it’s important to support your toddler’s early language development, deliberately and methodically exposing your toddler to the specific language that she will need on a daily basis. This aspect of language learning is an important part of your child’s classroom experience.
In the Montessori toddler classroom, a child is exposed to real, rich, precise, and varied vocabulary and grammar. The Montessori guide will get down on the child’s level, look in his eyes, and speak to him clearly, so that he can watch the movements made by her mouth as she speaks. Children will enjoy carefully chosen songs, and read-aloud books with poetry, real stories and beautiful illustrations.
Your toddler will experience less frustration as he learns to express his ideas and feelings in words, and this thoughtful approach to language will also prepare him for reading and writing in the Children's House.
Confidence and “Practical Life”
Toddlers love to do real-world, adult tasks “all by myself”! The toddler community offers your toddler real tools and opportunities through the Montessori “practical life” activities.
In this right-sized environment, the Montessori practical life exercises allow a child to perform real-world, purposeful tasks that your child can choose and complete independently. Your child will become an important contributor to her community, and practice tasks over and over to achieve mastery, building confidence and self-esteem. This gives rise to a naturally self-reinforcing process: the more he tries, the more he succeeds. The more success he feels, the more confident he becomes. The sense of accomplishment that a child feels each time he achieves something new (something that grown-ups do, too!) builds the foundation of self-confidence that he will carry with him throughout his life.
Coordinated Movement & Problem-Solving
In the Montessori toddler community, children have access to increasingly-sophisticated Montessori activities. Each activity is matched to the appropriate moment in an individual child's development and designed to strengthen the integration between her mind and her hand. These activities support the toddler in learning to understand cause and effect, solve problems, make choices, and pursue goals, as well as giving her plenty of opportunities to practice increasingly coordinated movements.
Some activities feed a child's developing mind through hand-eye coordination; others address his need to move and grow. Your child will engage in gross motor activity, both indoors and out, from singing and dancing with friends, to climbing and riding tricycles on our beautiful playground, to simply experiencing the joy of freedom of movement in the Montessori classroom.
One of the most important ways a toddler learns to be independent is in learning to use the toilet on his own. Our Montessori guides know how to watch for the signs that a child is ready, and how to motivate him to learn without pressure.
Your child will have access to bathrooms which are just his size, and we'll share comfortable rhythms and routines that make using the toilet familiar and appealing. Most of all, the mixed-age classroom is an invaluable resource: older children in the class will be setting the example, inspiring interest and a desire to emulate in the younger children. The Montessori approach ensures that great care is taken to keep the experience positive and relaxed.
Socializing with “Grace and Courtesy”
One of the most exciting things about working with toddlers is watching them begin to interact, play, and socialize with their peers. To learn, children imitate the adults around them, establishing patterns of social behavior that will stay with them throughout their lifetimes. Because children move freely in their Montessori classroom, they have lots of opportunities to interact with other children.
Our Montessori guides help children learn positive social interaction through specific lessons in “grace and courtesy.” Rather than constantly correcting your child’s behavior from a negative perspective, children are instead shown what to do in each situation. Courteous interactions are modeled, capitalizing on the toddler's delight in imitation. Lessons in grace and courtesy help your toddler to navigate his world with confidence and consideration for others.
…the child, who can now walk and feels confident of his strength, begins to notice the actions of those about him, and tries to do the same things. In this period he imitates not because someone has told him to do so, but because of a deep inner need which he feels.MARIA MONTESSORI
Montessori Children's House Community
for preschool/kindergarten-aged children
The Children's House Community is a carefully prepared, child-sized classroom in which a young child can direct her own activity, building confidence and social skills.
The Children's House includes five different classroom areas — including one for each major academic subject — each with enticing and sequenced materials that your child will be introduced to with individualized lessons over a three-year period. The oldest children in the Children's House are leaders, mentors, role models and helpers for the younger children, and the younger children look up to and learn from their older peers.
Developing Independence through Practical Life
When a child joins his Children's House class, his first experiences will be with the practical life activities. These lessons inspire the child with real-world, purposeful tasks and tools, helping him see himself, correctly, as capable and competent.
These activities are complex, with many steps that must be performed sequentially in order to achieve the result, helping your child strengthen key executive functioning skills. They give a child the opportunity to take on meaningful work that he can complete independently, while developing concentration. The practical life activities also prepare a child for writing by strengthening her hand and reinforcing motions and muscles important for producing the written word. Most importantly, they allow a child to absorb the basic, methodical problem-solving approach that is the foundation for all thought or creative expression, including such diverse areas as math, science, engineering, programming, writing, artistic expression, entrepreneurism, and athletics.
The essential skills developed through the practical life activities will form the basis for all further learning as your child grows.
Developing the Scientific Mind Through the Sensorial Materials
Children this age use their senses to explore the world. They enjoy the beautiful sensorial materials and learn to compare and contrast, to discern slight differences, and to place things in order. Both artists and scientists need the ability to really look at what is in front of them: to notice small details about the world that have significance for their work. The sensorial materials also highlight mathematical relationships that exist in the real world, providing the foundation for understanding arithmetic, geometry and algebra. These materials allow a child to develop mastery over his observational powers: the sensorial mastery of the scientist, the artist, the mathematician.
The sensorial materials also prepare your child for mathematical exploration. Mathematical relationships exist in the real world, and the sensorial materials highlight them. For instance, the “constructive triangles” material is fascinating for four and five-year-olds, who love putting the triangles together in different ways to form other shapes. This work prepares them for the study of geometry, as they begin to understand relationships between shapes.
Reading and Writing Joyfully
The Montessori approach to language study makes learning appear effortless, because it recognizes the individuality of each child. Maria Montessori noticed that in each child’s development there is a moment, occurring at a slightly different time for everyone, when the child suddenly becomes interested in written language. When this moment comes, if the tools are available to feed her interest, she will joyfully “explode into” writing, then reading. A child’s guide watches closely for this moment, patiently building the foundation that will allow your child to experience reading and writing with confidence and joy.
Your child will first be introduced to a rich and varied vocabulary, and will later analyze words into sounds. He will then learn to associate each phonetic sound with its corresponding letter, and trace the letter to internalize the movements made in writing. Older children use the “Moveable Alphabet” to put those sounds together into words and sentences. Five and six-year-olds in our Children’s House typically write beautiful true “stories,” illustrated in color pencil.
This approach breaks down language learning into clear component skills, so that children can grow confident with each step before moving on to the next.
Maria Montessori believed that the human mind—every human mind—is fundamentally disposed to mathematics. Human beings measure things (number, quantity, volume, weight, shape, time), order things, and compare things. Our mathematical minds solve real world problems and help us to invent tools that assist us in living our lives.
Your child will gradually move from performing mathematical operations with these concrete objects, to the pure abstraction of numbers on a page. In your child's mind, basic mathematical understanding will become intuitive, and grounded firmly in concrete reality.
The Foundations of History and Science
Geography and culture lessons in the Montessori classroom offer the inspiration for a child’s future study of history and science. Children’s early experiments with physical properties, land and water forms, natural objects, gardening, sorting, parts of animals, and parts of plants inspire them to fall in love with the scientific world. A child’s work with puzzle maps, flags, cultural items, and beautiful cultural photographs to compare and categorize introduce him to varied geographies and cultures, and represent the first steps on a path that will later lead to the study of history.
Students in the Children’s House community learn the basis for scientific and historical thinking from the bottom up, by direct exposure to the foundations of these subjects in a form that they can understand. Even at a young age, Montessori children feel at home in the natural world, having fostered their ability to observe, their vocabulary, and their explanatory understanding of many natural domains. And they are deeply curious about history, having a sense of where both natural and man-made things originated—naturally giving them a deep and authentic appreciation and gratitude for the things and people around them.
Socializing with “Grace and Courtesy”
Because children in the Children's House move freely, choosing their own work, snack time, and places to sit, your child will have plenty of opportunities to practice social interaction. Montessori guides shares lessons that each child can practice in various circumstances. These simple clear lessons in everything from asking to sit with someone to blowing one’s own nose or saying “excuse me” give a child the tools he needs to interact successfully in his world.
The Children’s House offers the 3- through 6-year-old child a wealth of possibilities!
Montessori Elementary Community
from 6 to 12 years old
Children entering the elementary years are undergoing momentous changes. Having gained basic independent control over their minds and bodies, they explode forward to fully enter the human world.
Children at this age are highly social and even morally aware: they develop an acute sense of right and wrong. Their imagination is on fire and their knowledge becomes rapidly more abstract: they are enthralled by a big picture vision of the universe and entranced by exploring and explaining every detail within it. And they are ready and eager to build on the capacity for self-direction and concentration, developing responsibility and time-management.
Guidepost's elementary programs take full advantage of these changes. Our Montessori elementary classrooms offer your child a powerful curriculum with highly individualized delivery, in an environment designed to promote learning, responsibility, and social and moral reasoning.
Knowledge is best given where there is eagerness to learn, so this [elementary age] is the period when the seed of everything can be sown, the child's mind being like a fertile field, ready to receive what will germinate into culture.MARIA MONTESSORI
A unique, rich academic curriculum
The core content of the Guidepost elementary classroom provides each child with the keys to the universe.
The comprehensive curriculum provides the student with a basis to understand the entirety of the natural and human worlds. Five key “Great Lessons” — on the universe, life, humans, numbers, and language — provide students with an accessible history of physics, biology, civilization, math, and literature. This history grounds a love of learning and knowledge. It provides a framework for a set of structured lessons and learning materials that are integrated both vertically — with the child's own hands-on experience — and horizontally — with other questions and topics within (and beyond!) the curriculum.
The outcome of the curriculum is a foundational body of knowledge — and universally valuable habits of mind that persist far into adulthood. Students learn key methods and techniques for thinking about everything in their world, enabling them to make decisions, to resolve conflicts, to analyze problems, to achieve understanding, and to build solutions.
Our elementary classrooms employ a system of lessons and learning materials designed to make foundational, complex mathematical operations comprehensible and usable by your child.
When taught in this way, math imparts in a student powerful cognitive tools that profoundly shape her thinking, allowing her to not only solve mathematical problems, but to solve any problem by isolating independent factors, understanding relationships and dependencies, breaking down tangled complexities into steps, integrating steps into clean, powerful inferences, and confidently committing to and acting upon a well-validated conclusion.
Literature and Language Arts
Literature provides the elementary student with the opportunity to study human nature. The elementary student reads carefully-curated literature and explores themes in those works with her peers in literature circles. The elementary guide Socratically shapes these discussions to emphasize the relevance of characters, plots, and themes to each child's life — to the people around her and to herself, to universal human needs and dilemmas and choices.
The outcome is students who not only love reading, who not only have an ability to appreciate the depth and wonder of challenging works of literature, but who have rich inner lives and strongly grounded moral character.
The Guidepost elementary classroom is furnished with an incredible writing curriculum. Writing is infused into every subject area, with students learning everything from practical journal-writing, to analytical exposition, to creative writing.
Elementary students are hungry for explanations — for the why and the how of everything around them. The Guidepost elementary science program capitalizes and amplifies a student's natural curiosity, transforming it into an appreciation of the natural world and an intuitively held set of scientific habits of mind. Your child will become an observant naturalist, an ardent experimenter, and an insatiable tinkerer.
Students study the foundations of biology, physics, chemistry, and geology by direct experience. the curriculum provide students to explore rich materials — such as seeds in biology, or magnets and wires in physics—in structured lessons that furnish a bottom-up understanding of the natural world. Key areas of the child's world are taken and transformed into real knowledge, so that she walks away with understanding and a feeling of being in command of her surroundings and at home in them.
These lessons are delivered in a way that inculcates the scientist's mindset in a child. Children learn to extrospect and notice every detail, to manipulate and measure what they notice, to pose and to fully develop questions, to formulate hypotheses and to try and test ideas, and to use each bit of knowledge gained as an opportunity to notice something else and to begin the process anew.
The Guidepost Montessori elementary curriculum is infused with history. Human history is presented as a cohesive story, from the earliest beginnings of civilization up through the modern world. History is taught not as a list of dates and events, but as an almost literary narrative of human existence.
The story of the past can be just a boring account of events. It must not be given this way. It must be given like a fairy tale.MARIA MONTESSORI
By learning the origins of science, culture, and society, students learn to appreciate every aspect of it. They come to understand and appreciate the personalities and ideas that drove invention and innovation in all of these areas.
For older children, an emphasis is placed on intellectual history, especially on the ideas that drove developments in Western history. This approach affords students the opportunity to learn about the big ideas that are still at play in the modern world, and to explore how they developed and how they affected the course of history. Like literature, it offers yet a lens into understanding cause and effect in the human world — not inward and at a personal level, but outward and at a grand scale, and with real facts and sweeping events.
Your child will learn key concepts — in civics, world events, and even philosophy — that enable her to understand and approach modern society. She'll be well-positioned to continue learning about — and shaping — her society over a lifetime.
At Guidepost, each child will takes on real responsibility every day, from practical tasks like caring for the classroom and planning excursions, to staying on target with work expectations, to working together with others effectively on projects, to making moral decisions that affect himself and others.
Your child's Guidepost Montessori teacher is a mentor, a leader, a champion and, above all, a coach, as your child takes on increasing responsibility for his own learning. The Montessori teacher is often called a “guide” for this reason. Through regular one-on-one conferences, careful observation, and individualized lessons, the guide tracks progress and helps each child develop life skills, pursue individual passions, and ground himself in essential knowledge. She helps each child learn to choose work that uplifts his spirit and taps into his inner motivation, and supports him to set ambitious learning goals or projects, make a plan, then work towards a result that he can feel immensely proud of. She asks questions to stimulate the child’s moral process, but ultimately leaves the decision up to him.
A second side of education at this age concerns the child’s exploration of the moral field, discrimination between good and evil. He no longer is receptive, absorbing impressions with ease, but wants to understand for himself, not content with accepting mere facts. As moral activity develops he wants to use his own judgment, which often will be quite different from that of his teachers.MARIA MONTESSORI
Joyous, Individualized Learning in a Mixed-Age Environment
The Montessori elementary classroom includes a mixture of students from 1st through 6th grade. Each lesson in the Guidepost elementary curriculum is delivered in a way that is keyed to each child's individual ability level and interest.
The range of ages also creates experiences that foster leadership, collaboration, and peer learning. Each child in the group takes on various roles in classroom routines, learning new skills and seeing that each person’s contribution is important to the class. As a child ages and grows, she will take on more complex leadership tasks, and serve as a mentor, role model, and sometimes even a teacher for younger children. As children work together in small groups, or even choose to organize larger, whole-class projects, your child will learn to include others in decision-making, negotiate agreements, and accept accountability for commitments made to work partners. Each child will have the opportunity to share his or her natural talents, abilities, and interests within the group, learning to hone his own strengths and honor the strengths of others.