What To Look For In A SAMA Member Montessori School
Mixed Age Groups
Vertical grouping (Mixed Ages), refers to at least a three year span between ages. Traditionally Montessori classes are grouped 0-3 year, 3-6 years, 6-9 years, 9-12 years, 12-15 years and 15-18 years. Some schools, due to logistics, may extend the 3-6 age grouping from 21/2 year or up to 7 year olds.
This implies that there is no separate Grade R or Grade 0 in a Montessori school. The 3-6 class may include children preparing for primary school but they are not separated from the rest of the class.
Developmentally the children in the older age groups prefer working and interacting with their peers. Here the focus is on smaller groups, co-operative and collaborative learning experiences. Children working at their own pace.
The Work Cycle
There should be an uninterrupted work cycle of no less than 3 hours. It is imperative that the child be given the opportunity to develop his/her concentration through meaningful work, free from adult interruption or intervention. This time should exclude all group activities and extras.
In a Montessori classroom, each child is working at his/her own pace within a mixed aged grouping. This allows for natural inclusion of children with special needs as the pace of learning is based on the child’s potential.
A sense of happiness and peace prevails throughout the school. The children are comfortable in their environment and demonstrate a love of learning.
A Montessori environment provides for intrinsic motivation, as rewards and punishments deny children the opportunity to make their own choices and be responsible for their own behaviour.
A child is supported to analyse situations and make wise decisions, rather than make decisions based on what an adult might do to (punishment) or for (reward) them.
The Prepared Environment
A Montessori classroom should be clean, neat, ordered, and well equipped with Montessori equipment and materials. These are accessible to the children – at their height and are always be complete and in good condition. There is a reflection of the home and it is aesthetically pleasing.
A well prepared environment is based on reality and nature. The learning areas for practical Life, sensorial, language, math’s, cultural subjects and areas for art, creative expressions and music activities, as well as a free flow to garden/outdoor activities, support the child’s development for physical independence.
The primary classroom provides for the intellectual independence of the child through richly resourced materials and books in different learning areas.
The Prepared Adult
Staff should be trained and qualified as Montessori directresses/directors and assistants.
The adult in charge of these environments requires unique preparation. It is internationally accepted Best Practice that educators in Montessori schools should hold a Montessori teaching qualification and undertake ‘Continued professional Development’.
SAMA offers to our members:
- A code of conduct and 6 fundamental Montessori principles to guide our member schools.
- Professional development and support
- Awareness and guidance on new policies and legislation.
- A central information resource through our national office and website.
- An annual national Montessori conference.
- A mediation process to facilitate conflict resolution where necessary.