When school opens in the fall, there will be another option for parents of young children – the .
The school is for children ages 3-6 and still has spaces open. It is also open to children from other towns, not just Ellington. It follows Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) guidelines, and will be an AMI certified school once classes begin. All families looking to enroll are encouraged to schedule a visit to see the facility and fill out an application.
Children can either attend from 8:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m., or from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. The school opens at 7:30 a.m. and closes at 5:30 p.m. for children who need care before or after school.
School founder, teacher, do-it-aller, Theresa Nobilski says that the Montessori philosophy is that the children are active and the teacher is more of an observer, and that the child has freedom within limits. She says that they can do whatever they would like within their ability, and as their age and independence grow, their freedom grows as well.
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“I want them to be able to do anything in this room, completely independent of me,” she said, giving examples of using the restroom or taking of coats and shoes independently – even if it takes 20 minutes. “That’s necessary in order for them to figure out that they can do that.”
She noted that sometimes in everyone’s busy lives, parents don’t have the time to let the child fumble around for that amount of time, trying to tie or untie a shoe, or zip or unzip a coat.
At the school, there is a practical life area where children learn how to zip, button, tie, pour things, water the plants, etc. There is also a sensorial area where all of the senses are learned, used, and honed. Nobilski said that the goal is to have the child uses these senses in the environment and to recognize them.
Math, language, music, geography, and reading skills are also learned and developed while the child plays and experiments in the classroom.
Nobilski stressed that everything in the school is child-sized and real noting that if a child is ready for cutting, he or she would be given a real knife. Even the glassware is real.
“It’s all towards if it falls on the floor, it should break, that’s what is going to help them learn to carry it next time,” she said.
She said that there aren’t many scheduled group activities, and that if there are but a child doesn’t want to participate, he or she doesn’t have to.
“We don’t interrupt their concentration because when concentration is broken so many times, that’s when it’s lost,” Nobilski said. “If the child can’t form that focus and the ability to focus, unfortunately they’ll no longer have it. So it’s something we want to foster and giving them the time to work is what’s really important.”
She also noted that the classroom is a parent-free zone and she wants the children to know that once they enter the school, it is their environment.
“They know they can do everything in here and that they can do it by themselves,” Nobilski said. “That’s really liberating.”
According to Nobilski, they school is teaching life skills, and that academics is a benefit of Montessori, but it’s not the focus.
“We’re teaching them how to be independent, we’re teaching them confidence, we’re teaching them what to do in social situations,” she said. “It’s more life skills rather than academics, but academics is a beautiful benefit.”