An advantage of Step By Step’s approach is the concept of a multi-age classroom with students of varying abilities and interests. This is how we can allow each child to work at their own pace. As opposed to a more traditional preschool which has classrooms organized by age. Students whose strengths and interests propel them to higher levels of learning can find intellectual challenge without being separated from their peers. The same is true for students who may need extra guidance and support. Each can progress through the curriculum at their own comfortable pace, without feeling pressure to “catch up.” You will never hear that a child in our classroom is bored. In many cases we can challenge a child up through 8 or 9 years of age with the materials we have in our classrooms today. This is why many of our children exit our programs reading at a 3rd or 4th grade level and can do multiplication, division and in some cases work with fractions.
There is a small but growing body of well-designed research comparing Montessori students to those in traditional schools. These suggest that in academic subjects, Montessori students perform as well as or better than their non-Montessori peers.
In one study, for example, children who had attended Montessori schools at the preschool and elementary levels earned higher scores in high school on standardized math and science tests. You can read a summary of study at the link below. > Read More
The research also shows Montessori students to have greater social and behavioral skills. They demonstrate a greater sense of fairness and justice, for example, and are more likely to choose positive responses for dealing with social dilemmas.
By less stringent measures, too, Montessori students seem to do quite well. Our kindergarten students routinely score above 95% on their kindergarten readiness assessments. And many successful grads cite their years at Montessori when reflecting on important influences in their life.
Many parents of children who have attended a Step By Step Montessori preschool choose to leave their children in our program through kindergarten since they are already exploring more advanced concepts than offered in their community’s kindergarten program. Some examples of indicators of progress for children in a MN public school kindergarten program include: knowing the sounds of the letters, a basic understanding of some 2-letter sounds (TH, AT, UM, etc), maybe some early reading, counting to 31. Children coming out of a Step By Step Montessori kindergarten program are routinely reading at a 3rd or 4th grade level, they write, they can count to 1000, they can do addition, subtraction and in some cases they’re working with multiplication, division and fractions. From a geography perspective they know all the continents and in most cases the countries within the continents, they may know all the states within the US, even the capitals. Plus they have become independent learners and creative thinkers. They’re well adjusted socially and emotionally and easily adapt to new surroundings and settings. We’re focused on developing the whole child, a child that can succeed in any situation. By law a school district is required to enroll you child in their designated neighborhood school.
Step By Step Montessori’s tuition rates are very competitive when compared to more traditional day care or other child care organizations. We have some of the brightest staff and lowest turnover in the industry. Our average lead teacher tenure at Step By Step Montessori is 10 years.
Step By Step offers a challenging Montessori curriculum. Our Montessori classrooms are organized into 6 main areas: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math, Geography, Botany/Zoology. In addition to our prepared classroom environment we provide for specialists in the area of Music and World Language. We feel our program far exceeds most curriculums in more traditional preschools. All of our lead preschool teachers are Montessori certified either through the American Montessori Society (AMS) or Association Montessori International e (AMI). Montessori as a method of early childhood education has over 100 years of proven results.
The following is an example of how we may introduce geography within a preschool classroom. While studying a map of Africa, for example, students may explore the art, history, and inventions of several African nations. This may lead them to examine ancient Egypt, including hieroglyphs and their place in the history of writing. The study of the pyramids, of course, is a natural bridge to geometry. This approach to curriculum shows the interrelatedness of all things. It also allows students to become thoroughly immersed in a topic—and to give their curiosity full rein.
Dr. Montessori observed that children are more motivated to learn when working on something of their own choosing. It is this curiosity which provides an environment for the best type of learning. Dr. Montessori also believed that working with their hands was central to a child’s learning and also to development of the brain. This is why you see many unique materials in a Montessori classroom as well as many handmade materials or materials made from natural materials. At Step By Step all classrooms are equipped with a full complement of Montessori materials. If a child does not have the materials, then they are short changed in their learning. A Montessori student may choose their focus of learning on any given day but his decision is limited by the materials and activities that the teacher has prepared and presented to them.
Dr. Montessori realized that children’s play is their work—their effort to master their own bodies and environment—and out of respect she used the term “work” to describe all their classroom activities. Montessori students work hard, but they don’t experience it as drudgery; rather, it’s an expression of their natural curiosity and desire to learn. Don’t be confused with concepts like creative learning or play with a purpose. These curriculums are truly play-based and the benefits to the child in terms of brain development are not completely understood.
Although students are free to work at their own pace, they’re not going it alone. The Montessori teacher closely observes each child and provides materials and activities that advance their learning by building on skills and knowledge already gained. This gentle guidance helps them master the challenge at hand and protects them from moving on before they are ready, which is what actually causes children to “fall behind.”
Montessori teachers are educated as “generalists,” qualified to teach all sections of the curriculum. However, Step By Step also brings in specialists in certain subjects, including music and world language. These areas are included in your standard tuition. Step By Step Montessori offers enrichment programs in Dance, Swimming and the iPad Tablet (iSteps). A family may choose to enroll your child in these special programs.
As its foundation Montessori focused on gracy, courtesy, respect for the individual as well as listening and following directions. But if you’re concerned about this for your child you can always start to work on this by home. One such area is sharing. If you think your child will have a problem with sharing start working on this at home. Play a game and say you will have a turn then Daddy will have a turn in a couple minutes. Then in a couple minutes make sure that Daddy takes a turn. This will help the child become accustomed to sharing at home so in a center this will not be a completely new concept.
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