Children & Parents
Morningside Montessori School began as a parent cooperative in 1966. Our roots are embedded in the diversity of the Upper West Side community. Some of the values of the 1960’s that included independence of thought, freedom of expression, and open communications as a means of problem –solving, we still hold close.
Our approach to education emphasizes the uniqueness of every child. We value the individual learner. We reflect on our educational processes in light of new information about child development as opposed to jumping on the latest fad. Our commitment is to facilitate learning for every child, teacher and parent. We value social emotional learning as well as intellectual concept development, because social-emotional development is the foundation of human knowledge and growth.
The Montessori approach is inclusive of all learning styles and provides for all children’s talents to be nurtured as they grow. Instruction is inherently differentiated as the teachers facilitate learning in small groups and individually during extended work times. In differentiated instruction, students are placed at the center of teaching and learning. Because each learner comes to school with a different set of learning needs, and varying degrees of academic skill development, differentiated instruction advocates that the educator proactively plans a variety of instruction methods so as to best facilitate effective learning experiences which are suited to the various learning needs within the classroom. Our curriculum includes a blend of whole-class, group, and individual instruction. We employ the use of numerous approaches to facilitate opportunities for students to comprehend and then internalize learning. We observe students extensively and also collate their work in a portfolio over the course of the year, allowing for authentic and comprehensive assessment of our students’ development. Our blended educational approach allows for our teachers adapt to learners' needs based upon our ongoing assessment of all students.
It is a tenet of Montessori philosophy that children learn in mixed age classrooms. This creates a familial-like community in which older and younger children work together for common goals. Younger children benefit from the experience of the older children. Older children follow the lead of teachers in guiding their younger peers in learning how to do work, as opposed to completing the work for them. Embedded in this facilitating, older children must first assess what their classmate knows and begin the demonstration from there. This demonstrates a very high level of thinking. Being able to re-teach a skill that has been previously learned enables the one teaching to learn as much as the child receiving the lesson. Re-teaching reinforces the previously learned concept and moves the child toward complete mastery. It also helps develop independence and autonomy in the older child, something that is often lacking in traditional settings. This process of ’thinking about thinking’ is a powerful cognitive task for children. In understanding what your peer knows, you must take your peers’ perspective. This is important for developing cognitive nuances and important for social development in being committed to a process larger than oneself.
In the First Year of the 5 Day Program, children are working on following the topic at hand, managing their bodies, processing what other children are saying and delving into the work on the shelves. As parents, our sense of what they are learning is immediately gratified because we see the novelty of their experience in the classroom. Our 5-Day students typically stay in their classroom for two years. This is an important year in their development and this importance is not obvious. Second year students benefit from the class because they practice materials until mastery, learn to revisit material and thinking, which drives internalization of learning, providing opportunities to look at materials in a more creative way. Second year students can answer and ask questions about topics and think their way through a conversation. Older children also assist younger ones with their daily work. They may teach lessons or help check work and correct errors.
We welcome your family to MMS and invite you become an active participant in your child’s pre-school experience. Pre-school is your child’s first learning environment outside the home. We strive to make our pre-school home away from home for your entire family. Our child-centered classrooms are enriched so much by being a family-centered program as well.
We have a strong Parent Education curriculum. In a series of workshops throughout the year, parents will have opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of the developmental processes, milestones, and needs of their children. The workshops will be a forum for learning, exchanging ideas, and an opportunity to further build relationships with the other Morningside Families.
We are dedicated to making the relationship between schools and home a strong bridge that our students and their families will carry with them wherever they go.