Parents new to Montessori often question the multi-age groupings found in our classes. “Will my child have enough friends? Will they cover the entire curriculum for their grade level? Can the teachers keep track of it all?” For each question asked there are even more answers as to why children benefit from this system. It allows them to learn from each other, to have multiple mentors, to become leaders themselves building their confidence, and to develop a deep connection with their teachers, just to name a few.
The true magic of these multi-age groups is always more evident on the trips we take, as it was on our most recent trek up to Haliburton with our grade 4 through 8 students. “Your students are so supportive of each other. How do you guys do it?” began the conversation between the program guides and teachers over dinner the first evening. The resulting reflection encompassed many things, however, agreement kept centering on the multi-age groups. When kids of different ages are together in a group they look after one another in a way that just isn’t present in groups of all the same age. Younger ones look up to the older ones. They work hard to be mature like their older counterparts and enjoy the attention from them. Experienced students keep a protective eye on the younger ones, and relish in the chance to be in the spotlight. The result is a caring community where students feel supported to be who they are.
Whether it was putting on skis for cross-country skiing, making sure that everyone at the table had enough food, or cheering on each other at the high-ropes, the Dearcroft students did a phenomenal job of supporting each other. Older students rose to the occasion leading our younger group, especially acting as cabin councilors, making sure that all the kids were comfortable. The respect the senior group earned was clear one evening when the entire group of girls were excited and wanted to share a story with the teachers. Over the screaming and excitement of all in the group, one of the grade four’s voice rang out above; “Let Samantha tell the story: she is in grade eight and is our elder!”
In and out of the class, the benefits of the multi-age grouping are clear on a daily basis to the staff working with the students. The program instructors from the trip are arranging a visit to Dearcroft because they were so impressed by the group work and support they saw in the children. We are lucky to say it is the norm for us to hear such compliments about our students when we are out on trips, something we credit in large part to the multi-age groups found in Montessori classes.
As many of you know, our annual Dearcroft Christmas Carnival, “A Magical Christmas” was a huge success, in raising funds for the United Way, Oakville. In total, as a community, we were able to raise $2,747.00!! With “The Sprott Leadership Matching Challenge” (matching every dollar for dollar, over $2000.00) met, the total funds raised was $5494.00!! Dearcroft Montessori and our community of parents, children and staff, are proud to be a part of the grand total raised for United Way Oakville for 2014 – a total of $4,250,000! Two of our Dearcroft staff, Mrs. Janine Darby and Ms. Jacqueline Jajcinovic were in attendance at the UWO’s Celebration Night on February 5th, 2015. The evening consisted of awarding the 2014 UWO Spirit Awards, recognizing local organizations and volunteers for their exceptional commitment, leadership and creativity. As well, Rob Lister, President and CEO of Oakville Hydro Corporation, was announced as being the 2015 Campaign Cabinet Chair.
United Way Oakville funds 53 programs in three areas which have been researched to be the most essential foundation for healthy beings and communities: children and youth, financial stability and community wellness. United Way Oakville funds 32 social service agencies within our community, such as ROCK (Reach Out Centre for Kids), Food for Life and Halton Family Services. With the assistance of community contributions through personal donation and fundraising, the United Way Oakville is the largest supporter of the voluntary sector and social services in Canada next to government.
More than 34,000 individuals in our community rely on United Way Oakville funded programs and services. At Dearcroft Montessori, we look forward to continuing to be proud supporters and assist such local programs and services for United Way Oakville.
During the winter term, the children of the Junior Elementary class have been discovering what it means to be Canadian by exploring their home and native land. Throughout their learning about their neighboring provinces and territories, great lakes, and the lives of many famous Canadians, our class has gained a true patriot love.
Our level one students have created their own maps of Canada, learning along the way the names of the provinces and territories from far and wide. The level three students also researched and created timelines about the lives of inspiring famous Canadians.
We then had a day of celebration, where we all proudly wore red and white in honor of our true north wide and free. Amongst all the red and white, there were also level 3’s dressed in things like cowboy hats and hockey helmets, disguised as famous Canadians. Mock interviews took place that afternoon, where students took on personas of people like Shania Twain, Alexander Graham Bell and Wayne Gretzky. The whole day was a great success and all the children’s glowing hearts really shone through.
In art this term, the students have been exploring the work of various Native Canadian and Inuit Artists. Children have been reproducing and studying some classic Inuit imagery with a focus on positive and negative space.
By studying Canada, we hope that the children get a better understanding of what it means to be Canadian. Furthermore, we hope that children gain a sense of pride for their country and understand how truly lucky they are to be Canadian.
Dr. Montessori recognized the importance of sensorial work for students. She saw that each human is born with the gift of intellect, but like physical maturity, children’s minds need good nutrition and plenty of exercise in order to flourish. The sustenance needed for brains comes in the form of sensorial exploration, which helps kids form new ideas and abstract concepts. Montessori created a series of brilliant sensorial materials that are designed to isolate each sense, allowing for students to refine their understanding in each area.
Key benefits of children’s work in the sensorial area include the following:
- expands neural pathways and aiding in neurological organization
- trains and refines the senses, building intellect
- creates order and clarity in the child’s world
- develops concentration, coordination, order & independence
- builds appreciation for beauty, attention to detail, and encourages creativity
Check out this blog for great activities that will appeal to all of your child’s senses.
Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was an Italian physician, educator, and innovator, acclaimed for her educational method that builds on the way children naturally learn.
Learn more about Dr. Montessori and her amazing life and work here!
We thought this article by Ron MacLean provided a unique perspective and reflection on finding that ‘common ground’ in Canadian life.
The Maritime Provinces
We are now organizing the details for our upcoming 2015 Expedition Education journey to Canada’s Maritimes… the first leg of a three year, coast to coast trip across Canada. Nineteen years ago, our first Expedition Education journey took us to the Atlantic coast (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island). We returned again seven years later in 2003 and also organized two separate trips to Newfoundland in 1999 and 2004.
Expedition Education, established to enrich the experiential learning of our senior students, involves unparalleled Canadian studies opportunities. Through this dynamic, award winning travel and discovery program, our students come to discover Canada through an immersion based, first hand experience. This remarkably unique journey of learning is Canada’s most comprehensive and ambitious experiential education opportunity for elementary aged students.
This year’s trip (scheduled for June 12th-21st) is open to students in Levels 5-8. The journey will be led by Mr. Phippen, Mr. Gunn and Ms. Walker. Over the years, we have enjoyed the company of parent chaperones on several of our Expedition Education adventures and if you would be interested in joining us for some or all of the trip, we would welcome your interest! Travel is largely by motor home and in addition to a camping element, accommodation will also be facilitated at motels en route. The Maritimes is one of North America’s most scenic and friendly regions, home to some of our country’s most important historic and cultural attractions. We’ll visit famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites including historic Lunenburg, home of the legendary schooner Bluenose and beautiful Grand Pre’ in the heart of Acadia. We’ll also explore the spectacular Fortress Of Louisbourg in Cape Breton and the impressive stone walled ramparts of the Citadel overlooking Halifax as well as historic Confederation House in Charlottetown where our founding fathers first met in 1864 to discuss Confederation. In the Maritimes, the star attraction is the Atlantic Ocean. In fact there is no place in Nova Scotia more than 100 km from the sea. Forged by the strength of its Atlantic roots, the history, language, music and cuisine of Maritime culture is delightfully unique. Geographically stunning and culturally unforgettable, Atlantic Canada is truly a national gem.
For those interested, we are planning an information evening for … Thursday, April 9th @ 7:00 p.m in our West Wind Jr. High building. We will be discussing the itinerary & learning objectives in detail and will also cover logistics, cost, packing list etc. Part of the evening will include an AV presentation of previous Expedition Education journeys to the Maritimes…so we hope additionally that you’ll join us to learn more about our exciting tradition of journeys across Canada… from ‘coast to coast’! If you have any questions in advance of our Information meeting… please don’t hesitate to contact me through the office.
Gord Phippen & Expedition Education staff