When the Little Ripples team, guided by our awesome Expert Teacher Advisors, first sat down to start planning out the Little Ripples curriculum, we reviewed all the different preschool approach philosophies. Working in such a specific and unique setting, we knew that we would have to cut and paste strategies from each school of thought to create a best fit approach for the Darfuri refugee population.
Montessori is a widely recognized preschool approach with many Montessori schools all across the nation. The goal of Montessori education is to foster a child’s natural inclination to learn. Montessori teachers guide rather than instruct, linking each student with activities that meet their interests, needs, and developmental level. With the idea that children are individual learners with teachers as guides, play materials are designed for specific purposes, which guide the child’s playtime. Students are given the freedom and support to question, probe deeply, and to make connections.
A few components from the Montessori approach that are incorporated into Little Ripples include:
- Multiage classrooms that foster peer learning – younger children can learn from older children and older children reinforce their learning by modeling concepts they have already mastered.
- Large blocks of work time – either in small or large groups. Learning takes place through sensory-motor activities, working with materials that develop cognitive powers through direct experience: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching, and movement.
- Guided choice of work activity – during free time students are given a variety of activities to choose from and be able to explore and learn at their own pace. In this environment, students are given freedom within parameters set by the teachers.
- Opportunities to learn through variety of styles and activities – Montessori education recognizes that children learn in different ways and accommodate all learning styles. Through teacher trainings, Little Ripples teachers are be armed with a toolbox of activities that engage students in different ways and at all levels.
Next week I’ll talk a little bit about the Waldorf method and how we blended some Waldorf strategies into our Little Ripples program.
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