‘Let us give the child a vision of the whole universe. The universe is an imposing reality, and an answer to all questions.’ — Maria Montessori
What is the language of instruction in Montessori Elementary Schoolhouse in Aruba?
The Montessori Elementary Schoolhouse is a bilingual English-Dutch Elementary school. All of the Montessori language materials and will be available in English and Dutch. Reading material will be available in English and Dutch. The lead Montessori teacher will give instruction in English, while there will be a full-time Dutch speaking staff member will give Dutch language lessons, and speak exclusively in Dutch in all interactions with the children and while running the Lunch Program. The Dutch national standards (kerndoelen) will be used as the benchmark in Dutch Language Acquisition. The US Common Core standards will be used as the benchmark in English Language Acquisition. We recognize that, especially in Aruba, children have the best start when it is a multi-lingual start and the Montessori Elementary Schoolhouse will do everything to foster that.
What curriculum is used in the Montessori Elementary Schoolhouse?
The Montessori elementary materials and research materials form the basis of the Montessori curriculum which covers Mathematics, Geometry, Geography (Earth Sciences), History, Language (English and Dutch) and Literature, Art, Music and Physical Education, in an interdisciplinary way.
The minimum standards in each area are set by reference to the US Common Core Standards, as well as the Dutch Core Objectives of Primary Education, as established by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. At such a time as Standards are developed specifically for Aruba, these standards will also be included in the Montessori Elementary curriculum. By the end of the first three-year cycle (6-9 years, lower elementary) the children will be required to have attained the equivalent processes as set out, for example, for 3rd grade in the Common Core Standards. By the end of the second three-year cycle, the children will be required to have attained the equivalent processes as set out in the 6th grade Common Core Standards.
This reference to US and Dutch standards forms the minimum requirement for the children in the Montessori elementary school in Aruba, and through their work with the Montessori materials, research and collaborative work, and the strategic guided lessons by the teachers (individual and group) the children are likely to discover and learn much more than what is set out in these standard requirements.
How is the attainment of the curriculum measured?
Thorough record-keeping, both by the teachers, with the help of the MRX record-keeping system, and the children, of the lessons taught to the children and the follow-up work on those concepts by the children will illustrate the processes that the children have worked on and mastered and their progress in the various areas of study. The work with the Montessori elementary materials and the knowledge the children garner from that work are correlated with the traditional standards and this information is available both for the children in the school and their parents.
What is the adult-child ratio?
There are two adults in the classroom, which will initially house up to 20 students (grade 1-4) and grow to 34 students (grade 1-6).
How will I know how my child is doing?
Parent-teacher communication is essential to the success and confidence of the child within the classroom. To this end, the teacher regularly updates parents on the progress of the children, in both their academic and social development, in bi-annual parent-teacher conferences. Further conferences can always be arranged on an individual basis. In addition to this, it is strongly recommended by the teacher and the school that parents make time to come to the classroom to observe the children at work, in order to come to understand how the children work in a Montessori elementary classroom and at what tasks. Several observations are necessary to get a clear picture of the varied and deep work that the children carry out in their work day.
Regular email contact is also recommended between parents and the teacher for both the parents and children to be informed about the child to best serve his or her needs. Parents are asked to email the teacher immediately with any and all questions or concerns related to the school, the child or the teacher. The teacher will also email news updates to all parents with pertinent information and some photographs.
In addition to these formal routes of communication, several times a year, there will be occasions for the children to invite their parents to school, or another location, for school socializing.
A close school community is the foundation to a feeling of security and confidence for all involved, the child, the family and the staff of the school.
If Montessori education gives a lot freedom, how do I know my child will work?
Contrary to some views, Montessori elementary education is not only about freedom, but it only allows freedom hand-in-hand with responsibility. Not to work is not an option in the Montessori elementary classroom. The children are obliged to work. The choice of the particular work, chosen from the carefully prepared and selected work options in the classroom, from one day to the next, is open. However, the children are required to meet the minimum curriculum requirements. They must work regularly on the processes that will lead them to fulfill the curriculum requirements, as well as on all the other areas of great interest to the elementary child.
If the children can move around freely all the time, when do they learn to sit still and work?
Contrary to other schooling systems, in a Montessori elementary classroom, the children are free to move around physically, to get the equipment they need for work, to ask each other questions, and also to reflect on what they are learning. There is no requirement that all the children should remain seated all at the same time. This, however, does not mean that the children do not sit to work. When a child is engaged in a group or individual lesson, work, or project, he or she sits at a desk or at rug on the floor to do that work.
When children choose their work, they can be deeply engaged in it and deeply concentrated. This can be witnessed by children sitting for long periods of time (2 hours!) on one task. This is where deep learning and understanding of the subject areas comes from. The difference in the Montessori approach is that ‘sitting still’ happens for each child at a different period of the day. Some people are morning people, some come to life more in the afternoon, and those long periods of concentrated work (and sitting still) happen for each child at the time he will gain most from it.
Do you teach religious education?
The Montessori Elementary Schoolhouse in Aruba is a non-denominational school. Children of all cultures and backgrounds are welcome in our school community and as such, religious education is limited to the parallel exploration of cultures by the children in their cultural studies and history studies. The school does not celebrate any religious holidays but the children are encouraged to share their religious/cultural practices with the school by way of presentations, projects or discussions. National holidays of Aruba are observed.
It is a firm belief of the school that love and tolerance for all that is different in our world and between various cultures and countries can be fostered through mutual education in this manner. In Aruba we are in the very fortunate situation to have a very diverse population from which the children of the Montessori elementary school can learn and develop deep love and tolerance for the great wealth of cultural diversity that is to be found here.
Will my child be able to transition to a traditional school after attending the Montessori elementary school in Aruba?
The teaching method used in the Montessori classroom guides children to be adaptive curious thinkers and independent doers. Life skills like respect, working in teams, time management, and much more, are developed by the children allowing them to move confidently into a new and different environment and to adapt to that new system well. From an academic perspective, children attending Montessori elementary schools develop a deep understanding of the subject areas covered in the elementary curriculum. Their repeated work with the hands-on materials and independent research projects serve as a springboard to further studies.
Do you have more questions that have not been answered?
Then please send them on!