Children deserve a caring, loving environment in which to learn, grow, and develop. St. Andrews Montessori School provides a peaceful place enriched with beautiful didactic materials to nurture children’s natural desire for learning. We promote stability and understanding, encourage academic achievements, instill the wonder of nature, and inspire creativity within the whole child. Children are our future.
History of St. Andrews Montessori School
The St. Andrews Montessori School began in 1986 as a ministry of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church. The school is owned by the church and was the very first Montessori school established in Macon-Bibb County, Georgia. St. Andrews Montessori School began as a preschool with nine students and has grown to include a Toddler Class (ages 18 months to 3 years), 2 Primary Classes serving ages 3 to 5 years, a Lower Elementary Class ages 6-9 in grades 1st-3rd and an Upper Elementary class for ages 9-12 4th-6th grade.
The St. Andrews Montessori School is governed by a School Committee made up of a chairperson, a treasurer, three members of the church at large, and three school parents. The School Director, Administrative Director of St. Andrews Montessori School, and the Pastor of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church are members ex-officio.
The St. Andrews Presbyterian Church by-laws explain in detail how the organization works. Copies of the by-laws are available in the school office.
The St. Andrews Montessori School is based on the philosophy and method developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, the first woman to graduate from the University of Rome Medical School. She became interested in education while treating mentally retarded children at the university psychiatric clinic. Gradually, Dr. Montessori realized that these children were capable of learning much more than it was generally believed. Her teachings brought about remarkable results and set the foundation for the Montessori system. Dr. Montessori began her work with normal children in 1907 when she was invited to organize a school in the reconstructed slum area of San Lorenzo, Italy. She later resided in India and started more Montessori schools. Toward the end of her life, Dr. Montessori moved to Holland. The author of several volumes and many articles about education, Dr. Montessori died in 1952 in Holland.
The Montessori system is both a philosophy of child growth and a means of guiding such growth. Inherent is the belief that children develop more fully through the active engagement of their whole personality. The unique components of the Montessori system are the prepared environment, specially designed didactic materials, and the Montessori-trained teacher. The fourth component is the child as he/she experiences joy in learning, acquires a sense of order, learns the intellectual skills of problem solving and perseverance, the social skills of mutual respect and responsibility for one’s actions, and the character traits of self-discipline, self-motivation, and independence.
Dr. Montessori described the function of education as an “aid to life.” “The task of the child,” said Dr. Montessori, “is to construct a man orientated to his environment, adapted to his time, place, and culture.”
She emphasized two main points: first, that it is the duty of the teacher to help rather than to judge; and second, that true mental work does not exhaust, but rather gives, nourishment.
The prepared environment allows children to pursue their interests and to succeed on their own as they learn. Its spaciousness lends itself to quiet beauty and simplicity through the use of soft colors, a minimum of wall displays, and child-sized furnishings. The didactic materials, placed on low shelves, are organized into five major areas: practical life, sensorial, language arts, mathematics, and cultural subjects. During the day, the children spend time in one or more areas, working as long as they like and restoring the area before moving to another. In the practical life area, such exercises as buttoning, tying, washing hands, sweeping, mopping, washing, cutting, serving of fruits and vegetables, washing tables, watering plants, polishing silver, and more help children learn to care for themselves, others, and the environment. The outdoors is considered an extended classroom for nature studies, gardening, hiking, exploration, and discovery. The materials in the sensorial area help children develop intellectual skills of classification and mental organization by refining their senses of touch, taste, smell, hearing, and sight. Work in the language arts area enriches oral language and develops skills for creative writing and interpretive reading. Listening to stories and music and viewing art prints by the masters, the children learn to appreciate aesthetic qualities. Exercises in science, history, geography, and foreign language, as well as concrete experiences with mathematical materials such as counting and number recognition, making sets, measuring, patterning, and geometry, provide an essential foundation for future work with abstract concepts and problems.
The daily routine of the Montessori School classroom differs in many respects from other schools. From the greeting by the teacher to the farewell, the child’s environment is planned, and her activities are structured to encourage the appropriate behavior and atmosphere for creative learning. Classroom activities include individual work chosen by the children, demonstrations by the teacher, and group dynamics.
When necessary, teachers assist in the decision-making process by offering the children options. As the children work individually or in small groups with their chosen materials, enjoy their snacks, and spend time outdoors, teachers observe them and present appropriate materials (give lessons) to the child or small group. Children walk carefully around others’ work area, respecting their space. Concentration, perseverance, and joy in working are achieved as the children busy themselves in their chosen tasks. Although teachers prepare the environment, program the activities, offer stimulation and options, and serve as facilitators and observers, the children motivate themselves to learn. Their natural curiosity, their love for work, and a sense of community are stimulated and nurtured by the prepared environment, the didactic materials, and the other individuals who are a part of their world.