By Dave Power
Marketing Manager and COMS Alumnus
The families of potential students at Council Oak Montessori School often wonder about the same things.
A Montessori education sounds nice. They want their children to enjoy school and to have autonomy in the classroom, but how can they be sure Montessori will provide that? How does Council Oak measure results without tests or grades?
It is true that Montessori students enjoy a high level of freedom. This is the case because there is a strong base and clear structure that goes into managing a Montessori classroom, and it begins with the Montessori curriculum.
In the office of COMS head of school Lila Jokanovic, visitors see an entire bookshelf of three-ring binders. These binders contain the scope and sequence of the Montessori curriculum from early childhood (3 years of age) through Middle School, carefully detailing each concept and skill children will engage with during their time at Council Oak.
Classroom teachers are continually assessing the progress of each student as they internalize the various concepts that have been presented to them. COMS teachers are certified through one of the two major Montessori associations (AMS or AMI). Through that training they become experts in presenting Montessori materials, develop strong skills of observation, and attain tools of formative assessment to help get a more rounded idea of how a child is doing.
COMS Children’s House students (ages 3 to 6 years) are likely able to name and identify the continents by the middle of the year. By the time they move to the Lower Elementary classroom (6– to 9 –year–olds), they have an understanding of the map of the United States and begin studying biomes.
The COMS curriculum is designed so each student can progress at their own pace, but there are general milestones. Before reaching Lower Elementary, students who have spent three years with COMS will likely be reading. They also have a basic introduction to operations and the decimal system in mathematics.
On top of these traditional academic skills, Montessori students gain practical life skills such as sewing, ironing, and conflict resolution. In fact, a large part of Montessori curriculum is acquiring skills that go beyond traditional markers of education.
When people ask about measurable results in Montessori, COMS teachers certainly have a lot to point to. However, the curriculum goes beyond that. There is a difference between memorizing the times table and developing an intuitive understanding of multiplication.
COMS measures progress and produces exemplary academic results. What goes beyond that – the deep understanding, intrinsic motivation, problem solving, and social development – that is what sets Montessori apart.