MSO was recently featured in the Spotlight on Parent Click.com. Here is the article:
How much do you really know about the Montessori Method? I have to admit, I’ve “heard” about the Montessori Method quite a bit but, it wasn’t until a recent visit to the Montessori School of Ojai that I learned exactly what it’s all about.
As the Montessori School of Ojai (MSO) will tell you, “a Montessori education centers on each child, with the teacher presenting lessons to the individual, rather than a group. This individual attention helps the teacher become more familiar with the child and thus understand the child more fully and better provide for that child.”
The very first thing I noticed when I visited the MSO campus, was how quiet it was. In fact, as I introduced myself to Patrice Magill (Financial Administrator, and my Guide for the day) I made a comment to her about it. She pointed out that there are no screaming children, no bells, loudspeakers or slamming lockers. As I began my tour with her, I noticed that in fact, the only sounds were those of nature all around us. It was a very calming and serene atmosphere.
She took me over to their Certified Organic garden first, explaining that all the students learn about and work in their garden. The produce that comes from their garden is used in the kitchen and then any surplus is sold, with proceeds going directly back in to their garden.
From there, and much to my surprise, she pointed out the goats and miniature horses they care for, which were just feet away from where we’d left the garden.
We went on to the Middle School area where I was able to view a few of the rooms. Again, it was surprisingly quiet. Students were working independently and didn’t seem distracted at all by my presence. Instead, they exhibited focus and discipline.
We headed over to the elementary and preschool rooms next. Almost immediately we came upon some of the preschoolers playing outside. Interestingly, even then, the children were not out of control or loud in any way. They were actually learning how to shoot field hockey goals and were taking turns together. It was an amazing sight.
As we walked through the elementary rooms, Patrice continued to explain the Montessori Method to me. She shared with me that because students receive individualized attention and their academic progress is continually evaluated, they can make recommendations and even classroom changes mid-year, as necessary. She stressed to me that there is no competition and no combined testing. Even with something as simple as Spelling, each student receives their own vocabulary words.
Of course, it all starts where we ended… at the Pre-K and Kindergarten classes. I just cannot say enough about how impressed I was at everything I witnessed. The children were in different areas of the classrooms with multiple teachers on hand. I watched as some children learned how to prepare their own snack; one boy using a plastic hard-boiled egg slicer to cut the egg and then eat it. But, it didn’t stop there. The children are also shown how to be independent; learning how to clean up after themselves with their own miniature sink and each with their own towels. Essentially, they are taught about “Practical Life”; learning how to do things for themselves and ultimately feel good about it. This helps to build their confidence and gives them a “can-do” attitude.
I went over to another child and watched as he put pictures and sentences together. He was not writing anything down. He, along with all the children, are given letters and items with which they can touch and put their hands on. (Of course, they do learn writing, but this method really emphasizes children gaining the whole experience and really wrapping their brain around a concept). In fact, when it comes to letters and numbers, there are tubs and tubs full of these in 3D form. Children learn the composition of a letter or number in whole new way. Also in 3D form are the wooden blocks with which they learn their math skills. Unlike methods used in other schools, Montessori students build and remove blocks with their hands, learning more, and in a way that exceeds what can be written or read on paper.
While I wanted to stay all day and watch these remarkable kids learning the Montessori way, it was time to return to Patrice’s office. Before saying goodbye, she shared a few more things with me about their curriculum and the keys to their students success. She told me about their United Nations Program and pointed out that they all will learn Spanish and in the case of the middle school students, French as well. She explained that their middle school students will move on to Nordhoff and Villanova Prep. And, one final detail I found to be quite impressive; the MSO teachers meet with the staff at the high schools to make certain their students are successful in entering and seeing their way through the next phase of their education.
I’ll never forget my experience at the Montessori School of Ojai. I am grateful for the invitation extended by Patrice and the time she took with me that day.
I’m so excited to now be able to share this information with all of you, our ParentClick families. To learn more about MSO, please visit them online OR even better, give them a call and set up an appointment to go down there and see for yourself how amazing the Montessori Method is!”