The Montessori Philosophy
Dr Maria Montessori was a dedicated scientist, a humanist, and a pacifist. Her life's work was dedicated to the liberation of children, and many of the conclusions she drew from hours of acute observation have been now backed by modern neuroscience. She aimed to bring peace to human kind through an education method that fundamentally respects a child's natural course of development. Her philosophy is rooted in love for humankind. She believed that all children can reach their potential with freedom within limits and opportunities to experience concentration. The idea is that by exercising their independence and getting into a state of flow and love for their work, children feel a sense of internal satisfaction and happiness, which reflects on their confidence and ability to self-regulate. Our goal is to support children in developing their independent, thoughtful, and joyful selves. We help them acquire skills to become empowered, self-disciplined individuals by acknowledging all feelings and allowing space to get familiar and understand emotions. We draw firm and consistent boundaries to keep all living things and the environment safe.
Montessori Materials, Play, and Mindfulness Activities
Dr Montessori designed sets of materials aimed at supporting children's natural development, gradually. They are fun, engaging, and beautiful, and they encourage exploration, concentration, development of the imagination, and practice of manual dexterity and fine motor skills. The areas of focus in the Montessori classroom are: Practical Life, Development and Refinement of the 5 senses, Language, and Math. All of these areas are supported with a succession of materials, and integrated in children's time at school through independent and group activities. Music is approached as a language, and included in daily activities. Visual arts such as work with clay and paint are offered as well. In addition to the Montessori Materials and Activities, we make space for child-led pretend play, performance and mindfulness activities that encourage self-expression and social-emotional skills. Outdoor exploration and tending to the earth are highly therapeutic and offer opportunities for movement, sensory, practical life, math and science skills, and language development.
Contextual Learning and Emergent Curriculum
Our aim is to support the children to grow into people of their time and place. We allow them to broaden their understanding of the world at an appropriate pace by focusing on experiencing and learning about their immediate environment - the backyard biome, the people and vehicles in our community, Northern California coastline and its populations... Contextual learning has been proven to support cognitive function and is integrated in the themes we weave into our days at Petites Merveilles. We may provide books, songs, conversations, and materials that allow a child to delve deeper into an area that they find particularly interesting at a given time.
Commitment to anti-racism, inclusivity and celebration of diversity
We care deeply that our children grow up in an inclusive and equitable world, and are intentional about providing an unbiased, culturally sensitive learning space. We aim to create a community that celebrates all cultural aspects of each our children's lives while allowing them to experience and explore different ones as well. Most of our children have two or more languages at home, and we do our best to include these in play or at meal-time whenever we can. We help children identify and honor their similarities and differences to strengthen their sense of identity and self-worth. Our aim is to create a community of families that will come together around their children to share and celebrate their cultures with each other.