Montessori at Pine Street School
The Montessori method of education is a time-tested, child-centered educational approach developed by Dr. Maria Montessori in the early 1900s. It is based on scientific observations of children from birth to adulthood and is respected worldwide as one of the most successful and enduring educational models of all time.
We now have a century of data about Montessori and its graduates. We know that they perform exceedingly well academically relative to their non-Montessori peers, and we know that there are numerous other benefits from a Montessori education, such as self-confidence, social agility, independence, self-sufficiency and an enduring zeal for learning.
Through the guidance of trained Montessori teachers and a classroom carefully prepared with self-correcting and sequenced materials, children are encouraged to grow in their independence, curiosity, and problem solving. Montessori supports every aspect of a child's development: physical, social, emotional, and cognitive.
Our Unique Montessori-Inspired Program
The power of the Montessori approach inspired our founder, Dr. Jennifer Jones, and founding Head of School, Eileen Baker, to incorporate Montessori methods and materials into the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program (or PYP) at Pine Street School. They brought two of the world’s most effective early education programs together in a unique and powerful combination that is transforming learning for children ages 2-4.
Pine Street School is proud to be the only school in New York City (and one of few in the world) to offer a Preschool that is PYP-based in which Montessori methods and materials are used. While we are not a pure Montessori school, we incorporate key elements of Montessori throughout our Early Childhood preschool program and the teachers are either Montessori certified or have been through extensive Montessori training (see more about our training approach below). Therefore, our Early Childhood teachers are trained in Montessori and the PYP.
Where to Find Montessori in Our Classrooms
Visiting our Preschool classrooms, one can see the influence of Montessori everywhere. Our students learn early how to be self-sufficient and work independently or with partners. You will see them selecting and carefully carrying trays of “works” from shelves to tables or floor mats. They may invite a friend to collaborate. If they are hungry, they will find the snack station and take a moment to sit and eat, perhaps with a friend. Those who are toilet independent will find the restroom as they need it.
The works (materials) themselves are the hallmark of a Montessori environment. These materials are beautiful. Intentionally designed by Dr. Maria Montessori to be enticing to young children who want to touch and tinker. Our classroom shelves are filled with these lovely, tactile materials, each with a clear and thoughtful purpose and a design that allows the child to explore and self-correct. We follow the Montessori protocol of a student marking their work before walking away, so that everyone knows not to disturb it. They will be sure to put work away when done so that the next person to select it has a pleasant experience.
As in any Montessori classroom, our Montessori materials are organized on shelves by subject. This organization enables children to easily find materials they are interested in or wish to return to.
The Montessori Subject Areas
Language development is woven throughout every aspect of the classroom through rich, oral language opportunities, such as conversations, stories, and poetry. The children also work extensively with various didactic materials, such as sandpaper letters, which allow them to trace or manipulate the letters of the alphabet while learning the phonetic sound each makes. The activities in this area also include word building materials, writing, the study of grammar, and the classroom library.
Children have access to concrete mathematical materials that represent all types of mathematical quantities. By combining, separating, sharing, counting, and comparing this equipment, children demonstrate to themselves the basic operations of mathematics. The manipulation of these materials is intended to foster a solid understanding of basic mathematical principles that prepares children for the abstract reasoning and problem-solving capabilities they will need later.
Science & Nature Studies
The children are encouraged to strengthen their connection to nature as a foundation for a lifelong interest in the sciences. Science is an integral part of our curriculum and incorporates topics from Botany, Zoology, Physical Science, Astronomy, Geology, Ecology, Earth Science, and Weather. It is an investigative process that, among other things, represents a way of life - a clear thinking approach to gathering information and problem solving.
Geography & Culture
Large maps of different continents are available for the children to manipulate. Children eventually learn the names of different countries as well as various facts about each one. The maps provide concrete illustrations of many geographical facts. Children also learn the common land formations. The children gain an awareness of the world around them by exploring other countries, their customs, religions, food, music, climate, language, and animals.
For young children, there is something special about tasks that an adult considers ordinary - for example, washing dishes, making juice, and polishing shoes. In the practical life area of the classroom, children take part in activities that allow them to act like their older role models. Such activities help children perfect their coordination and refine their motor control; continue to learn grace and courtesy, and care for themselves and their environment; lengthen their span of concentration; pay attention to details; learn good working habits as they finish each task and put away all the materials before beginning another activity.
Sensorial materials help develop the discriminatory power of all the senses. Children build cognitive skills and learn to order and classify impressions by touching, seeing, smelling, tasting, listening, and exploring the physical properties of their environment. Through beautifully and precisely designed materials children are also able to discover mathematical relationships through manipulation.
From the sandpaper letters to the colorful bead cabinet, the spaces are designed to facilitate exploration, delight the senses and invite learning. And what makes a Montessori classroom even better? The beautifully complex and rigorously deep PYP Unit of Inquiry (see sample units here) which extend the students' exploration of the environment beyond Montessori materials and expand international-mindedness.