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      WORKSHOP- Autism: A Montessori Approach with Practical Applications

      Presenter: Michelle Lane

      Summary: Back by popular demand,  Michelle Lane will be presenting an exciting half-day workshop on November 15.  This workshop will expand upon the concepts Michelle discussed at the VIMA conference in 2013.

      The format will include lecture time,as well as group activities. Participants will have the opportunity to engage active thinking skills on inclusion ideas for children on all levels of the autism spectrum. They will also have the chance to work with the Montessori materials used to help implement this method.

      Date: Saturday, Nov . 15th
      Time: 9am-1pm

      • Registration and coffee at 8:30
      • Workshop 9 – 11 first half
      • Break 11 – 11:30   Coffee & muffins
      • Workshop 11:30 – 1pm  second half Cost: $40

      Location: Selkirk Montessori School: 2970 Jutland Road Victoria, BC

      Selkirk Montessori School

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      Selkirk Montessori School 48.440690, -123.378639

      Parking: Meter parking in the area. Free spaces beside and under the school. Go around behind the school  to ‘Jack Ladder Lane’.

      Montessori: What is it?

      Dr. Maria Montessori, Italy’s first woman to graduate in medicine, originated The Montessori Philosophy. Dr. Montessori believed that children learned best by doing, not by passively accepting the ideas and preexisting knowledge of others. The Montessori method requires the active personal pursuit of many different experiences: physical, social, emotional and cognitive. Dr. Montessori designed specialized instructional materials that the children could use to learn specific skills.

       “If we could say, “We are respectful and courteous in our dealing with children, we treat them as we should like to be treated ourselves,” we should have mastered a great educational principle and be setting an example of good education.”

      - Maria Montessori

      A Montessori environment is carefully prepared so that the children can move independently from one area to another. Each room has a Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Mathematics, Cultural and Art area. Freedom, independence, social development and academic learning are all important facets of the Montessori method. Maria Montessori’s vision of world peace began with recognizing, and respecting the importance of, the small child’s contribution to the world.

      What is a Montessori Classroom Like?

      Nicky Macdonald, one of West Mont Montessori School’s teacher trainers, instructs new teachers on the Montessori Method.  Below, Nicky provides a personal account of what a Montessori classroom is like:

      After more than 14 years as a Montessori pre-school teacher, I am still constantly amazed and delighted by the never-ending diversity of children that I meet.  It always feels like such a privilege to be able to spend my time getting to know these children, discovering their unique personalities and individual challenges.  What is perhaps equally amazing is that I have yet to meet a child who, when treated with patience, love and respect, within the freedom of the prepared Montessori classroom, has not grown and blossomed as they have been able to learn and develop in their own particular way, moving towards the fulfilment of their potential within the supportive Montessori environment.

      The first time I spent a morning in a Montessori classroom, I was struck by the sense of peace and calm that I experienced and by how independent the young children seemed.  They moved around the room in control of their actions, choosing their own work, tidying up, offering help to their friends, preparing their own snack, changing their own clothes and carrying out all of this without the apparent direction of their teacher.  For large parts of the morning, I was hardly aware of the teacher being in the room as she worked intently with one child or another, while all around her was a busy hum of activity as the other children moved from one independently chosen task to another.

      I have found this feeling of calm, busy energy in each of the Montessori classes that I have worked in, and I have come to realize that it is the freedom that the child experiences that makes it this way: freedom of movement, freedom to choose their own activities, and freedom to engage in these activities for as long as they want, within the order of a well prepared and interesting environment.  These conditions allow the child, no matter what their particular personality, challenges, or background, to find peace and happiness.  It is from this place of well-being and contentment that their desire to learn develops naturally and spontaneously.

      Montessori schools are often called the “Children’s House” because everything in them is designed to allow the child to become physically independent.  The materials are child sized and the equipment is laid out in an orderly fashion on low shelves that are easily accessible for the children. The equipment is beautiful and well cared for, which encourages the children to take care of it too. Children between the ages of approximately two-and-a-half and six years are grouped together in their own mini society. The youngest learn from watching the older children, and the older ones benefit by helping those younger than they. The mixed age group allows the children to naturally develop socially, intellectually and emotionally.

      In a Montessori school, children choose their activities independently and move freely from one activity to the next – always returning things to the shelf after they have used them. In an atmosphere of calm, young children concentrate for surprisingly long periods of time, working individually, in a group or with a friend. Ideally the morning or afternoon session lasts for a minimum of three hours; three hours in which there is no particular timetable, where the children are not only free to choose the activities they wish to work with, but are also free to work with them for as long as they wish. Groups can then arise spontaneously according to the interests of the children. Maria Montessori observed that this extended period of time was essential for the children to develop their ability to concentrate.

      Maria Montessori based her system of education upon her careful observations of children.  She saw that children “built themselves” based upon their interactions with what they found in their environment, and that it was by being able to work with real objects that they had freely chosen, and by being respected as individuals, that they could teach and develop themselves.  Freedom within a structured environment enables a child to work at creating the person he/she will become.  A Montessori classroom provides freedom whilst maintaining an environment that encourages a sense of order and self-discipline.

      Comparison of Montessori and Traditional Instruction

      Montessori Method: Traditional Method:
      1. Emphasis is on cognitive and social development 1. Emphasis is on social development
      2. Teacher has unobtrusive role in classroom 2. Teacher is center of classroom as “controller”
      3. Environment and method encourage self-discipline 3. Teacher is primary enforcer of discipline
      4. Mainly individual instruction 4. Group and individual instruction
      5. Mixed age grouping 5. Same age grouping
      6. Grouping encourages children to teach and help each other 6. Most teaching is done by the teacher
      7. Child chooses own work 7. Curriculum is structured for the child
      8. Child discovers own concepts from self-teaching materials 8. Child is guided to concepts by the teacher
      9. Child works as long as he wishes on chosen project 9. Child is generally allotted specific time for work
      10. Child sets own learning pace 10. Instruction pace is usually set by group norm
      11. Child spots own errors from feedback of material 11. If work is corrected, errors usually are pointed out by the teacher
      12. Child reinforces own learning by repetition of work and internal feelings of success 12. Learning is reinforced externally by repetition and rewards
      13. Multi-sensory materials for physical exploration 13. Fewer materials for sensory development
      14. Organized program for learning care of self and environment 14. Less emphasis of self-care instruction
      15. Child can work where he chooses, move around and talk at will (yet not disturb the work of others); group work is voluntary 15. Child usually assigned own chair; encouraged to participate, sit still and listen during group sessions
      16. Organized program for parents to understand the Montessori philosophy and participate in the learning process 16. Voluntary parent involvement


      Montessori Middle School


      Adolescence for many adults is recalled as a period of time in which a lot of change was going on. Social relationships were being formed or broken. There was a growing desire to break away from the control of parents and foster some independence. School was a place you had to go to, but increasingly you were questioning, “Why do I have to learn all this stuff?” Was it going to be any use? Did it have any relevance to what life was throwing at you?

      Parents and teachers can all recognise that as children enter adolescence, they change in significant ways, and have specific social and academic needs. Interestingly, conventional methods of education treat students of all ages in remarkably similar ways. Students are largely provided information by the teacher, who stands and delivers the information to the whole group. Students may go off and have some group work with classmates, and there may be some field trips, but the goal remains content delivery. There is no unique approach provided in this model to educate the middle school child.

      Montessori education has at its core a belief that there are different stages in child development. It also recognises that children do not always learn at the same pace, have different strengths and weaknesses, and unique interests. Any parent can relate to this: when your child learned to walk, talk, eat solid foods, started reading all varied from his/her peers. Children don’t follow a specific timeline, but fall within a “typical” range of when they learn to do things.

      How does all this relate to what school can look like in the Montessori Middle School model of education?

      • Grade 7 and 8 students learn together in a mixed age class, and get a clear break from where they have come from in their schooling. They need their own unique space and a chance to have their own identity.
      • Students participate in 5 week cycles with a focus on an overarching question to be answered in the cycle. The BC curriculum is covered as a bare minimum, but the learning goes far beyond what is required at this age level.
      • At the end of each 5 week cycle there is an “out-week” where students relate what they have been working on in school with real world application.
      • The teacher guides the process and provides the safe environment for students to explore and learn in. The teacher gives guidelines on academic standards to be met and appropriate social behaviour, and feedback to students on how they are doing.

      Pre-school/Daycare Manager Required

      A Manager /Teacher required for a small Montessori preschool/daycare located in Saanichton. The applicant should hold a current E.C.E. Licence and a Montessori diploma, preferably have had some experience in administration, and be available for September 2014.

      Please contact or send your resume to:
      Virna Tiller
      Montessori Educare

      May 3rd 2014: VIMA Workshop with Donna Goertz

      Inclusion and Peace:

      Supporting variety in temperament and learning styles in the classroom

      This highly informative workshop comes at an ideal time for everyone in the education system. This day-long workshop will address the following three themes:

      • How can we prevent others from seeing our child in terms of disabilities in behavior or learning and assigning her labels?
      • How can we see a child in terms of strengths and interpret a child’s particular attributes in terms of talents?
      • How can we translate a child’s characteristic behaviors and learning styles and rates into a way of thinking and speaking that are worthy of her truest self?

      Donna Bryant Goertz founded Austin Montessori School in Austin, Texas, in 1967. She directed the school and taught there for thirty-four years. While continuing a co-directorship of the school with Donald C. Goertz, Ph.D., Donna now leads parent education, staff development, and new programs initiation.

      For more information on our presenter Donna Goertz, please visit her website at:

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