ABC-Stewart Preschool-Kindergarten is a Montessori-oriented program that places children ages 3–6 in one learning environment for 3 years, the last year being their kindergarten year. This age grouping allows younger students to learn from older ones and older students to gain leadership skills by role-modeling for the younger. The 3-year continuum allows children to make and grow through lasting friendships and provides their teachers the opportunity to know each child deeply—giving them a chance to meet each child’s individual needs.
Using the Montessori model, the teacher to child ratio is kept low (11:1). Teachers work in groups of two or more and prepare beautiful classroom environments that encourage self-motivation, self-esteem, and creativity. Materials are made available for children to choose freely throughout class time. Teachers focus on guiding children individually and present concepts one-on-one or in small groups. Materials are then left on the shelves for students to work with as often as they wish to master the concepts.
ABC-Stewart Preschool-Kindergarten has 3 different classrooms that all employ the same philosophy: ABC, Children’s Garden, and Horizons: though the names are different, the quality of education is the same in each. You may choose one classroom to enroll your child for the full 3-year preschool-kindergarten commitment. A 3-year-old may enroll for 3–5 mornings a week; and children 4–6 (4 by Sept. 1st) may elect both morning and afternoon sessions. Afternoon sessions allow teachers time to work more closely with these older minds. Kindergartners are given more challenges, special workbooks, and other responsibilities. Close record keeping and observations of each child are used to track each student's progress.
Children at this age are growing both physically and mentally, and each type of skill effects the other. The more control children have of their bodies, the more able they are to control themselves in class and focus on lessons. For this reason, we give children plenty of time outdoors or in the gym daily, both morning and afternoon, to improve their gross motor skills.
At ABC-Stewart Preschool-Kindergarten we believe that parent involvement is crucial to each child’s success. Teachers are available throughout the year via email, telephone, or individual conferences arranged during their planning time. Parents and teachers have scheduled meetings twice a year for individual parent-teacher conferences. Parents are able to meet with all of their child’s teachers and they are given student progress reports. Student portfolios are also shared at this time.
Active Learning and Academic Success
At ABC-Stewart Preschool-Kindergarten children are encouraged to pursue studies in all areas of their personal interests by using hands-on learning, “following the child,” in Maria Montessori’s words. We strive for a balance between freedom, order, and responsibility. A work-cycle is stressed (choose a work, complete it, then put it away, ready for the next person to choose) to bring the student a sense of closure and recognition of having reached a learning goal. Each material and lesson supports independent and successful learning, respectful questioning, critical thinking, and problem solving.
We, as humans, learn through repetition. With materials being kept available for children to choose throughout class time, a child may repeat a lesson as many times as his/her growing mind needs. Once the child has mastered the concept, his/her mind naturally moves on to different works; if not, an observing teacher, steps in and offers direction. Through this guided experimentation children become self-motivated, and as they learn to accomplish skills and concepts for themselves, their self-esteem grows. If a child needs more direction at certain times or is not internally motivated in a given area, it is our responsibility, as teachers, to acknowledge the personal preference but to still require that the necessary work be completed.
Teachers encourage children to build on their strengths and personal learning styles and to learn from their mistakes. We make a concerted effort to empower children by giving them responsibility to care for themselves, their actions, and the classroom environment that surrounds them. Children dress and undress themselves for the outdoors, serve themselves snack, prepare the tables for lunch, and choose materials that interest them in their stage of learning.
We consistently encourage our students to not be afraid of taking risks, but to use their countless experiences, both positive and negative, as feedback to encourage personal growth. We carefully build a supportive environment for the unhurried mind to move steadily toward the pursuit of an inner desire to learn. Children are not rushed from activity to activity, rather they are given long periods of time to choose lessons they have been presented, and they can complete them at their own pace. This allows their attention spans to lengthen and prepares them for their next stage of learning in the elementary school.
Teachers focus on the whole child, not simply academic milestones. We help children to recognize that emotions are complex and powerful and that it is important to feel them fully and without fear, identify them correctly (in ourselves and others), respect them, and accept and deal appropriately with them. We talk to children when we see they are hurt or upset, and help them find the best way to solve their problem directly.
Respect & Responsibility
ABC-Stewart Preschool-Kindergarten teachers believe that every member of our school community has a fundamental right to be treated with respect, regardless of age. When conflicts arise, teachers adopt the true meaning of discipline: to teach. We work with children to express what has happened, to take responsibility for their actions, and to be open to solutions that they discover on their own through using their words. When behavior is inappropriate, and a reminder is not enough, we intervene and respectfully, but firmly, stop the behavior.
The experiences a child has both at home and at school in the first 6 years of life set the foundation for all learning and thinking to come. This is the time each child’s self concept and concept of the world are set. What a child (and later as an adult) will attempt and whether or not s/he will succeed at it are profoundly influenced by this foundation. As a school, we at ABC-Stewart Preschool-Kindergarten use the Montessori-oriented approach to help each child reach their fullest potential. We work together with parents to create a foundation of lifelong learning, love of self, and sense of community within each child. We hope you will join us! Please schedule a tour to choose your classroom and/or fill out an application online!