Why Montessori Plus?
Striving to provide the best possible education for young children, we want to incorporate in our program all elements that have been proven beneficial for early childhood development. Therefore, besides endorsing the Montessori Method, we also put emphasis on emotional and social development, art, music and movement, physical education and an active lifestyle, and bilingual education. We also provide opportunities for dramatic play.
We don’t make such choices simply out of personal preferences. Although we do love all of them, our choices are based on findings of solid scientific research. The following is a summary of our rationale based on research.
Social-Emotional Development: Research has suggested that helping children develop social-emotional skills increase their chances of success in school, work and life, and that there is a need for emphasis on social-emotional learning in early-childhood programs. As a result, besides the Montessori Method, social-emotional learning is also a focus of our program.
For the best interest of the child, we invite parents to be our partners in social-emotional coaching. Here are valuable resources for parents: Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning- Resources-Family Tools (http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/resources/family.html)
Art: To meet the needs of the whole child, activities that involve children in both making and enjoying art are essential. Art activities help children develop in many areas; art also has value in and of itself. Fostering the development of children's aesthetic sense and engaging children in creative experiences are the objectives of our integrated art program. There are accomplished artists in our faculty who will carefully guide and encourage children’s creative art exploration.
Music & Movement: Nobody questions the importance of music and movement in early childhood education, so we are not going to elaborate on how they contribute positively to the happiness and development of young children. We do want to point out two research findings: a) for children to benefit in their spatial-temporal reasoning, music must be an ongoing part of the curriculum; b) as many as 85% of people are kinesthetic learners. Combining this with the fact that 99% of what is learned is unconscious, we cannot emphasize enough the impact of music and movement activities in a learning environment. Therefore, music and movement will be another emphasis in our program. Besides faculty members who are experienced in music education of young children, we may also have musicians and dancers coming in to enhance children's experiences.
Physical Education & Active Lifestyle: Research has indicated that: a) children who are physically active and experience success in movement activities show higher levels of self-esteem and a greater sense of accomplishment; b) there is a significant positive relationship between physical activity and academic performance, probably because regular physical activity is linked to better brain function; c) physical activity helps children get through the day without fatigue and makes them more alert; d) physical activity improves children's physical fitness and lower their risk of obesity.
To incorporate high quality physical education in our program, we have created a well-equipped indoor gym in the school where children can stay active all year round. Gymnastics, yoga and martial art are also an intrinsic part of our gym activities. On top of that, to foster a healthy, active life style from a young age, we walk to parks everyday for outdoor play and explorations.
Bilingual Education: As shown by numerous studies over a long period of time, there are significant life-long benefits (cognitively, socially and culturally) for children who learn a second, or even third, language at a very young age. We want children in our school enjoy these benefits and become better prepared world citizens. Therefore, in our program, mini Mandarin lessons are offered multiple times every day; bilingual communication is an intrinsic part of our daily school experience. As Chinese is such a different language system than English, the learning process is certainly a fun brain exercise! Parents will be surprised to discover how much their children can achieve.
Dramatic Play: Dramatic play has been shown to benefit children intellectually, physically, socially and emotionally. It is such a natural part of a young child’s life that we believe it deserves adequate outlet/support in our program. Therefore, in our classroom that is mainly prepared as a Montessori environment, there are also a dramatic play areas equipped with items that are recommended by professional groups in the field of early-childhood education. In line with our core belief of “following the lead of the child,” in our program, dramatic play activities are initiated by children, not adults.