Montessori Program

The Rice Lake Area School District offers the best elementary Montessori program in Northwest Wisconsin. The Montessori style of education includes multi-age groupings that foster peer learning, uninterrupted blocks of work time, and a guided choice of activity. Under the Montessori method, the teacher, child and environment create a ‘learning triangle.’ The classroom is prepared by the teacher to encourage independence, freedom within limits, and a sense of order. The child, through individual choice, makes use of what the environment offers to develop him/herself, interacting with the teacher when support or guidance is needed. Montessori teachers provide environments where students have the freedom and the tools to pursue answers to their own questions.

The Rice Lake Montessori program utilizes classrooms at Tainter Elementary School, and Montessori students are able to participate in Art, Music, Gym, lunch and recess with the conventionally taught elementary students.

Montessori students learn to think critically, work collaboratively and act boldly – all skills that are readymade for the 21st Century.

 KneiflA  

Ms. Ashlie is a UW-RF elementary education graduate with an Elementary 1 Montessori credential from St. Kate’s University, an early childhood Montessori certificate from The North American Montessori Center, and a Master’s Degree from UW-RF.  This is her 8th year teaching Montessori.

Children’s House (4k & Kindergarten)

 SmithB  

Ms. Barb is a UW-EC elementary education graduate.  She taught for six years in Amery, Wisconsin in a traditional third grade classroom. Prior to becoming the Montessori E1 teacher in Rice Lake, she was a Montessori aide for three years. She is working on her Early Elementary Montessori certificate from The North American Montessori Center.

Elementary 1/E1 (1st through 3rd grade)

 


The Admissions Process

Students who will be at least 4 years old by September 1st of the upcoming school year are able to enroll in the Montessori program. The Montessori program currently serves children 4K-3rd grade. In the case that a classroom reaches its maximum capacity, students will be put on a waiting list for that school year and will be called in the order their applications were returned.  All families are encouraged to fill out the required paperwork during the enrollment period and return it to the Administration Office. In the case that more students apply than there are spaces available, preference will be given to siblings of current or prior Montessori Program students who have completed the program and children of Rice Lake Area School District employees.  After admittance of these students, the remaining names will be put into a lottery.

All decisions will be made by mid-June of the current school year for the upcoming school year’s enrollment.  Any students wishing to enroll after that time will be handled on a case by case basis and if there is room in the program.

 

Students new to Montessori:

 All 4K prospective students who do not currently have a sibling in the Montessori program need to have at least one parent come in to observe after the 4K enrollment window opens in February, and the child (no parents) will then need to come in for an “observation morning” with the other prospective 4K students at a later spring date.  The paperwork for the Montessori 4K program needs to be returned to the Administration Office after it is mailed out, and an observation set up with the Children’s House (4K/K) teacher. Parents of older students who are new to Montessori will also need to set up an observation with the appropriate teacher for themselves and their child; these will be two separate visits. 

Siblings of current Montessori Students and Montessori transfers:

Siblings of current Montessori students do not need to have a parent observation, but the 4K students still need to attend the “observation morning” and students who are transferring in from another Montessori program may choose to take a morning to observe in their new classroom. 

What makes a child a good fit for the Montessori program? 

Good Fit

  • Independent – doesn’t need constant teacher or adult direction to do the next step

  • Curious

  • Desire to learn and go above and beyond in their work

  • Problem solving skills

  • Intrinsically motivated

  • Can appropriately respond to release of control (work, school, personal). The students are “on their own” for the majority of the day to get their work done. The teacher is working one-on-one or with small groups of students throughout the day, and is not directing the whole class.

     

    Poor Fit

  • Constant reminders to stay on task

  • Only does the minimum or less that is requested

  • Relies on adult for direction

  • Not self-motivate

  • Lack of self-discipline

  • No self-control

 

 

Rice Lake Montessori Program

Family Handbook

 

Tainter Elementary School

2201 Carrie Ave

Rice Lake, WI 54868

 

Dear Montessori Families,

Thank you for choosing the Rice Lake Montessori Program for your child’s education experience!  We are so excited to help your child grow and learn to the best of their ability.  Enclosed you will find some of the key area’s to help you gain a better understanding of the expectations of the Montessori Program. Please take the time to familiarize yourself with the handbook and the expectations, as it will make for a smooth school year for everyone involved. 

Please do not hesitate to contact your child’s teacher if you have any questions or concerns; we are all here to help your child be the best they can be! 

Sincerely,
Montessori Teachers

 

Program Background

The Montessori Program was started in 2011 and classes were held at Red Cedar school, consisting of 3 and 4 year old students.  The program has continued to grow since that time, with the program moving to Tainter Elementary in 2015 and adding an E1 classroom for 1st-3rd grade students, along with the existing Children’s House classroom that consists of 4K and Kindergarten students.  Our vision is to grow the program through E2, which consists of 4th-6th grades. 

Admissions Process

Students who will be at least 4 years old by September 1st of the upcoming school year are able to enroll in the Montessori program.  The Montessori program currently serves children 4K-3rd grade.  In the case that a classroom reaches it’s maximum capacity, students will be put on a waiting list for that school year and will be called in the order their applications were returned.  All families are encouraged to fill out the required paperwork during the enrollment period  and return it to the Administration Office. In the case that more students apply than there are spaces available, preference will be given to siblings of current or prior Montessori Program students who have completed the program and children of Rice Lake Area School District employees.  After admittance of these students, the remaining names will be put into a lottery.

All decisions will be made by mid-June of the current school year for the upcoming school year’s enrollment.  Any students wishing to enroll after that time will be handled on a case by case basis and if there is room in the program.

Students new to Montessori:

All 4K prospective students who do not currently have a sibling in the Montessori program need to have at least one parent come in to observe after the 4K enrollment window opens in February, and the child (no parents) will then need to come in for an “observation morning” with the other prospective 4K students at a later spring date.  The paperwork for the Montessori 4K program needs to be returned to the Administration Office after it is mailed out, and an observation set up with the Children’s House (4K/K) teacher. Parents of older students who are new to Montessori will also need to set up an observation with the appropriate teacher for themselves and their child; these will be two separate visits. 

Siblings of current Montessori Students and Montessori transfers:

Siblings of current Montessori students do not need to have a parent observation, but the 4K students still need to attend the “observation morning” and students who are transferring in from another Montessori program may choose to take a morning to observe in their new classroom. 

 

Curriculum Overview

Dr. Montessori saw some significant similarities in children and she grouped these children from birth-3 years, 3-6 years, 6-9 years, and 9-12 years going through the elementary levels.  The 3 year age grouping allows for students to remain in the same room with the same teacher for 3 years, and also allows for younger students to learn from older students, which gives the older students a sense of pride and responsibility to work with and “teach” the younger students.  

Children’s House

Dr. Montessori said that the most important time for learning is the period between birth and six years of age, because children are eager to learn from new people and experiences.  She talked of the “absorbent mind”, meaning that children absorb all the environment has to offer, and it is our responsibility as adults to ensure the world they experience is rich, safe, nurturing, and intelligent. Much of a child’s self-esteem and the foundation for their future learning is established in their early years, before they come to school, and certainly in their Children’s House years.  The Children’s House classroom allows your child to take a step toward independence in an environment specially created for the developing young learner. This happy and intelligent setting offers your child an opportunity to develop strong social skills as well as explore language, music, practical life skills, art, math, geography, science, culture and large motor activities. In this classroom, your child will be introduced to many different concepts and will learn both through observing and through direct interaction with beautifully crafted materials. 

Practical Life

Dr. Montessori structured exercises for the classroom to help children satisfy the need for meaningful activity. We refer to these as “exercises of practical life.” They include those daily activities which adults perform to maintain the environment and promote cohesive human relations. The Montessori practical life area is designed to allow the child to practice skills that will lead to greater independence and self-control. This area provides the child with the opportunity to engage in tasks associated with the real world of home, garden, and self- care. This work allows the child to develop concentration and attention to detail. Fine motor skills are honed, as the child gains a sense of satisfaction that comes from completing a task. They develop a deep joy for caring for themselves, others, and their environment. There are four distinct groups of practical life exercises:

Care of self  Children learn hand washing, fastening buttons, zipping, tying, snapping, and other personal hygiene skills. As we know, children need to first learn how to take care of themselves before they can take care of others and the environment around them.  Through these skills, children are able to gradually develop independence from their parents.

Care of the environment  With these exercises, children learn how to take responsibility for the space they use and enjoy.  They delight in washing windows, tables and chairs, sweeping floors, dusting shelves, and polishing. In addition, each child is responsible for returning his/her materials to the shelf upon completion to keep our room neat and tidy and allows for other children to find the work they are looking for.

Grace and Courtesy  Grace and Courtesy envelops the skills necessary to help children converse with other children and adults in a positive, respectful manner.  Through classroom activities and modeling by teachers, children develop the necessary skills for conversation, conflict resolution, greeting, and thanking.

Concentration and Coordination The exercises in practical life are among the first presented. These preliminary exercises include spooning, pouring, using tools, folding and matching, and food prep skills. These lessons help the child develop his/her gross and fine motor skills as well as develop concentration. In addition, there are groups of exercises that involve the analysis and control of movement to facilitate coordination. There are exercises that are essentially designed for this purpose, such as walking on the line and the silence game that is played as a whole class to bring an awareness to our surroundings. 

Sensorial Exercises

Dr. Montessori believed that children need to first learn about an idea by experiencing it with their senses.  The sensorial materials were created to help children sharpen their senses by isolating particular qualities of materials such as size, shape, composition, color, flavor, smell, pitch, texture and weight.  Each of these materials is created so that the child may work on their own without interruption and constant direction from a teacher. 

Language

Language is an integral part of the entire Montessori curriculum and is present in many ways in the classroom. Stories, songs, and poems, along with conversations with adults and peers help children increase their vocabulary and develop oral language skills. Written language is taught through a specific progression of lessons that engage the senses–children learn letters and sounds through seeing, hearing, and touching them with the sandpaper letters–and through immersion in a linguistically rich classroom environment. Children first learn the phonetic sound of each letter, and from there begin to put these sounds together to make words using more hands-on classroom materials. Once they have learned to create their own words, reading usually follows rather quickly.  Dr. Montessori felt that students are more successful when they learn to write words before they formally begin to read, although they are reading the words they are writing. As children progress into reading, they begin talking about stories and strengthening their comprehension and grammar skills.

Mathematics

The Montessori math materials are designed for children to work very concretely with numbers and new mathematical concepts.  As children work through the Montessori math curriculum in their later years the materials they use will become more abstract, eventually moving towards pencil and paper algorithms.  In children’s House, students will primarily work with the Golden Bead material to add, subtract, multiply and divide.  They will also work with the bead chains and the bead stairs.

Science

Students will explore plants and animals in the classroom and how they live and grow through exploration with puzzles, books and other various materials.

Geography and Cultural Studies

Dr. Montessori believed it was important to study what humans have in common to instill in the child a greater sense of belonging to the universe. By examining the similarities and differences of humans around the globe, we build a sense of connection to all human beings. Children in the Montessori classroom begin by looking at the world as a whole, studying the concept of air, land, water, and continents. They then begin to dig deeper into the study of local regions, cultures, and geography of the United States and all the continents. Colorful puzzles provide extensive hands-on exploration of world geography.

Library, Music, Art, and Phy. Ed.

Kindergarten students will participate in all specials that the rest of the elementary students do.  The 4K students will have a weekly library session and will be able to check out books.

 

Elementary I Program

 This portion of the Montessori program consists of 6-9 year old students, or grades 1-3.  Students in the E1 program will experience group lessons that they will be required to complete follow-up work for, and those works will have a due date.  It is up to the student to use their time wisely and make sure they are done with their work by the time it is due.  As in the Children’s House classroom, older and younger students are able to work together collaboratively and learn from each other.   The students in the elementary program will be working more towards abstraction in their work when compared to the Children’s House students.

Math and Geometry

Students in the elementary program may work for awhile with the golden beads as a review, and then begin the journey towards abstraction.  They will continue to practice adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing with each material they use, but each one will help the children progress towards learning how to do “pencil and paper” math.  Students will also memorize their math facts during their time in El.   They learn about shapes and their attributes and fractions while in the elementary classroom, too.

Language

Students will discover the parts of speech in the elementary program and become fluent in using and finding them in their writing.  They will also work on their reading and comprehension skills.  This is something that needs to be carried over at home, as practice with reading and comprehension is something that is always evolving.

Science

The science curriculum during the elementary years focuses on plants and animals and the parts and functions of each of these and how they are inter-related.

Geography and Culture

Students will learn about the parts of the Earth, the history of how things came to be while looking at the Timeline of Life and the Timeline of Humans, and they will learn about the country names, capitals, and flags of the continents.  In third grade, students will learn about the United States by doing an in-depth study throughout the course of the school year. 

Library, Music, Art, and Phy. Ed.

All students will participate in all specials that the rest of the elementary students do. 

Conferences

We will follow the same conference schedule as the rest of the elementary schools in the district.  If for some reason you would like to meet with your child’s teacher at a time other than the fall and spring conferences, please contact the teacher to arrange a meeting time. 

Sharing

Sharing is left up to each classroom teacher, as the curriculum and/or environment may help set the parameters of sharing.  However, in general we ask that students do not bring toys in for sharing, and that whatever they bring is something that the other students in the class can learn from and ask questions about to find out more.  Sharing is a wonderful opportunity for children to practice their public speaking skills and asking and answering questions.

Snack

Students may bring a healthy snack to have at school if they wish.  Ways to be healthy are talked about and encouraged at school, and one of those ways to be healthy is eat healthy.  We have class conversations about times that eating cookies, cake, chips, etc., may be appropriate, but encourage healthy snacks for everyone during snack time at school. Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  • banana

  • apple

  • orange

  • grapes

  • baby carrots

  • ants on a log (celery, peanut butter, raisins)

  • box of raisins

  • graham crackers

  • Ritz crackers

  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich

  • muffin          

  • pretzels

  • dry cereal (cheerios, etc.)

  • applesauce

  • granola bar

  • string cheese

  • cheese and crackers

  • yogurt

Birthday Celebrations

Birthday celebrations are a part of the Montessori curriculum and are celebrated in the classroom for each child.  Children will celebrate their birthday or half birthday, and your child’s teacher will let you know the date of the celebration.  We encourage children to bring in one picture from each year of their life to share with the class, and talk about some milestones that may have happened or they learned in that year.  For example, walking, talking, riding a trike/bike, getting a new baby brother/sister, starting school, etc.  Younger children may need some of these things written down to have a teacher’s help with.  If your child wishes to bring a treat to school to share with their friends, we ask that it be a purchased treat.

Parent-Teacher Communication

The best mode of communication to get information to your child’s teacher is via e-mail or a phone call; however, sending a note as a backup form with your child is suggested.  Your child’s teacher will share their preferred contact information with you at the start of the school year, however it is also available on the Rice Lake School District website if you need to be in touch before the school year begins.  Varying kinds of information will be sent home in your child’s folder throughout the week, and anything your child works on at school and wishes to bring home will also be in there.  Please be sure that your child brings his or her folder to school each day.  It is also your child’s responsibility to look in their folder each morning at school and give the teacher any notes or papers that need to be returned. 

Clothing

Children are encouraged to wear clothing to school that they can independently take on and off and be comfortable in.  Many of the materials in the classroom require the children to work on the floor, so being able to move around is a must.  You may wish to send children who aren’t able to successfully tie in shoes that either slip on or have Velcro so they can be independent.  Winter clothing may be something you wish to practice at home with your child so they are able to put it on themselves at school; these should also be labeled.  Please make sure that during the winter months your child has a pair of shoes to wear at school; they may leave a pair in their locker if you wish.

Classroom Materials

All of the materials in the Montessori classrooms are used by all of the students.  The materials are meant to be inviting and fun to use, but sometimes they are too inviting and make their way home!  If you find anything that you think may belong to the school, please don’t worry- just send it back to school and we will make sure that it gets returned to its proper home. 

Key Terms To Know

Montessori has some key terminology and ideas that are often used in the classroom and discussions with parents.  

Montessori Terminology

Dr. Maria Montessori introduced many new terms and concepts to describe how children grow and learn. Here are definitions of some widely used Montessori words and phrases. 

Absorbent mind – From birth through approximately age 6, the young child experiences a period of intense mental activity that allows her to “absorb” learning from her environment without conscious effort, naturally and spontaneously. 

Casa dei Bambini – In Italian, “Children’s House,” and the name of Dr. Montessori’s first school. 

Children’s House – In many Montessori schools, this is the classroom for children ages 2.5 (or 3) to 6 years; other schools call the classroom for this age group Casa, preschool, or primary school. Some schools use this term to refer to the entire school. 

Concrete to abstract – A logical, developmentally appropriate progression that allows the child to come to an abstract understanding of a concept by first encountering it in a concrete form, such as learning the mathematical concept of the decimal system by working with Golden Beads grouped into units, 10s, 100s, and 1,000s. 

Control of error – Montessori materials are designed so that the child receives instant feedback as he works, allowing him to recognize, correct, and learn from his mistakes without adult assistance. Putting control of the activity in the child’s hands strengthens his self-esteem and self-motivation as well as his learning. 

Cosmic education – Maria Montessori urged us to give elementary-level children a “vision of the universe” to help them discover how all parts of the cosmos are interconnected and interdependent. In Montessori schools, these children, ages 6 – 12, begin by learning about the universe, its galaxies, our galaxy, our solar system, and planet Earth—everything that came before their birth to make their life possible. As they develop respect for past events, they become aware of their own roles and responsibilities in the global society of today and tomorrow.

Didactic materials – Didactic meaning “designed or intended to teach,” these are the specially designed instructional materials—many invented by Maria Montessori—used in Montessori classrooms. 

Directress or guide – Historically, the designation for the lead teacher in a Montessori classroom; some schools still refer to the lead teacher as “guide.” In Montessori education, the role of the instructor is to direct or guide individual children to purposeful activity based upon the instructor’s observation of each child’s readiness. The child develops his own knowledge through hands-on learning with didactic materials he chooses. 

Grace and courtesy – Children are formally instructed in social skills they will use throughout their lives, for example, saying “please” and “thank you,” interrupting conversations politely, requesting rather than demanding assistance, and greeting guests warmly. 

Montessori – The term may refer to Dr. Maria Montessori, founder of the Montessori Method of education, or the method itself.

Normalization – A natural or “normal” developmental process marked by a love of work or activity, concentration, self-discipline, and joy in accomplishment. Dr. Montessori observed that the normalization process is characteristic of human beings at any age. 

Normalizing event – Within the prepared environment of the Montessori classroom, children experience a normalizing event every time they complete a basic work cycle, which includes 1) choosing an activity; 2) completing the activity and returning the materials to the proper place; and 3) experiencing a sense of satisfaction. 

Planes of development – Four distinct periods of growth, development, and learning that build on each other as children and youth progress through them: ages 0 – 6 (the period of the “absorbent mind”); 6 – 12 (the period of reasoning and abstraction); 12 – 18 (when youth construct the “social self,” developing moral values and becoming emotionally independent); and 18 – 24 years (when young adults construct an understanding of the self and seek to know their place in the world). 

Practical life – The Montessori term that encompasses domestic work to maintain the home and classroom environment; self-care and personal hygiene; and grace and courtesy. Practical life skills are of great interest to young children and form the basis of later abstract learning. 

Practical life activities – Young children in Montessori classrooms learn to take care of themselves and their environment through activities such as hand washing, dusting, and mopping. These activities help toddlers and preschool-age children learn to work independently, develop concentration, and prepare for later work with reading and math; older children participate in more advanced activities. 

Prepared environment – The teacher prepares the environment of the Montessori classroom with carefully selected, aesthetically arranged materials that are presented sequentially to meet the developmental needs of the children using the space. Well-prepared Montessori environments contain appropriately sized furniture, a full complement of Montessori materials, and enough space to allow children to work in peace, alone or in small or large groups. 

Sensitive period – A critical time during human development when the child is biologically ready and receptive to acquiring a specific skill or ability—such as the use of language or a sense of order—and is therefore particularly sensitive to stimuli that promote the development of that skill. A Montessori teacher prepares the environment to meet the developmental needs of each sensitive period. 

Sensorial exercises – These activities develop and refine the 5 senses—seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling—and build a foundation for speech, writing, and math through the use of sensorial materials. The exercises also bring order to the barrage of sensorial impressions the child experiences from birth onward. 

The 3-period lesson – A 3-step technique for presenting information to the child. In the first—the introduction or naming period—the teacher demonstrates what “this is.” (The teacher might say “This is a mountain” while pointing to it on a 3-dimensional map.) In the second—the association or recognition period—the teacher asks the child to “show” what was just identified (“Show me the mountain”). Finally, in the recall period, the teacher asks the child to name the object or area. Moving from new information to passive recall to active identification reinforces the child’s learning and demonstrates her mastery.

Work – Purposeful activity. Maria Montessori observed that children learn through purposeful activities of their own choosing; Montessori schools call all of the children’s activities “work.” 

 Adapted from http://amshq.org/Family-Resources/Montessori-Terminology


Some other key terms and ideas to know are:

Elementary 1 or E1- classroom consisting of 1st-3rd grade students or 6-9 year olds

Elementary 2- or E2- classroom consisting of 4th-6th grade students or 9-12 year olds

Three Freedoms:

Freedom of choice: Students have the freedom to choose what they are going to do and when they will do it.  However, freedom comes within limits, and students need to have a presentation on the materials they want to work on, and older students need to have responsibility and time management to complete their work by the designated deadline.  Students are also given the freedom to choose where they will work to complete their task within the classroom.

Freedom of work:  Students have the freedom to work on the work they choose, but again, this comes with limits.

Freedom to repeat:  Students are welcomed and encouraged to repeat any work they have been presented.  This is often seen in the Children’s House classroom, when children don’t have as many “time” restrictions placed on them.  You will often see children repeating a work many times; Dr. Montessori felt that students were filling a need within themselves when they do this.