Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Creative Play in a Montessori Environment

Experts acknowledge that the loss of creative play has negative consequences. Imagination and creativity; cornerstones of higher math and science are developed through creative play. David Elkind, author of The Power of Play, writes "Creativity and imagination are like muscles; if you don't use them, you lose them,"

Aldie Kindergarten student's collaborative extension.
It is a common misconception that the Montessori method of learning limits creative play. This is far from actuality. In the Montessori learning environment children are often presented with materials that lay the foundation to traditional areas of education, such as the basic understanding of area and volume learned by working with the brown stair materials. However, once a child begins to grasp the geometry of these objects, an extension of this exercise allows for children to explore the possibilities of construction limited only by their imagination but grounded in a far better understanding of plane geometry. Perhaps a simpler explanation would be a comparison of two approaches to music education. Would you consider it the best method for a person to develop musical skills or to understand musical composition by simply providing a person with a set of bells without guidance or would an introduction to the chromatic scale to develop a sense of tone before doing so lead to a better learning experience and honestly, more fun? When children have a basic understanding of skills or concepts it allows for a heightened learning experience and improves a child’s confidence while playing.
Herndon students using loose parts for outdoor building.
Children have a natural and intrinsic desire to play, explore, adapt and cooperate, especially in the outdoors. The benefits of outdoor play are easily identified and the development of large-motor skills and social interactions are well documented. Although traditional playground equipment such as slides, climbers, balls, etc. provide children a great deal of benefit and avenues for development, true creative activity is somewhat limited. Providing children with materials and equipment (loose parts) that can stimulate, facilitate and enhance children’s play leads to a high level of ownership which is a powerful ingredient in providing a positive play and learning experience for a child. Jeff Hill of the Childrens Scrapstore, a UK business providing children with these loose parts for playground use since 1982 states, “Giving children the opportunity to experience higher levels of creative activity during playtime, makes a difference to them, to their relationships with others and ultimately to the whole school environment.”

Westfields children on board the train climber.
At The Boyd School, we have enhanced our children’s outdoor experience through a number of playground extensions. Through the use of loose parts, children have the opportunity to construct on a larger scale than within the walls of the classroom using similar materials. Currently, children can build with custom designed, lightweight outdoor building blocks and small tires. The buildings, towers, and vehicles are only limited by their imagination. Additional and various loose parts are introduced to constantly provide children new materials in which to play. Children at the Aldie Campus have the opportunity to manipulate their playground experience through the use of a Snug Play system. The Snug Play system, generously donated by Van Metre to the school, is a series of lightweight, open-ended and moveable collection of play equipment. Children have the opportunity to create entirely new play environments and experiences through collaboration and the use of their imaginations. The Snug Play system at The Boyd School is one of the first installations in Virginia. Children at the Broadlands Campus have the opportunity to manipulate and build with natural materials creating paths, walls, and tunnels. The Boyd School - Westfields Campus offers children the opportunity to ‘travel’ as far as their imaginations allow on board an Amish built train climber.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Amazing Teacher

It takes an uniquely talented individual to be a teacher. They truly are the life-force of any institute of learning. We all are aware that these amazing people are tasked with educating the future, the proverbial next generation. We also understand they are responsible for developing in children social skills necessary for each child to become productive members of society.

Maria Montessori said of teachers, “The greatest sign of success for a teacher... is to be able to say, ‘The children are now working as if I did not exist.’” Her statement requires some additional thought to fully comprehend the inherent meanings.

It is the teacher’s responsibility to create an environment in which each of her students feel comfortable and at ease. To create an environment conducive to discovering, to exploring, to learning. Each child needs to be guided towards independence and instilled with the confidence to learn on their own. Meaning, children have to be both willing to succeed and conversely willing to undergo failure and to use a set-back as a learning tool. Keen observation and interaction is required by teachers to understand the needs of each child in order for this concept to come to fruition.

In a classroom inspired by the research and educational philosophy of Montessori, children stay with the same teacher for three years. This developmental journey results in a tremendous bond between child and teacher not to mention teacher and family. Recently, we had the opportunity to enjoy the wide arrange of emotions as children cross or move up to the next level in our Montessori learning environments. From the shear joy and pride teachers feel as a child completes this stage of development to the heartfelt tears as they say goodbye, these incredible people we call teachers truly understand Montessori’s statement.

At The Boyd School we take great pride in our teachers and staff. We appreciate the tremendous effort and love that they share. Each year a few of our beloved Boyd family leave us as they pursue other personal or professional endeavors. We extend to each of these wonderful individuals sincere wishes for success and take it with great pride to know that so many members of the Montessori community truly learned the craft of teaching under our tutelage.

We are constantly looking for uniquely gifted individuals to become a part of our community. Being passionate, creative, joyful are required qualifications. If you are interested in becoming a part of the Boyd family and the extended Montessori community contact us (Email The Boyd School). CLICK HERE for current career openings.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Interactive School Tours

The Boyd School - Aldie Campus is the first school in the Washington DC Metro area and one of the first in the nation to participate in a new Google Photography program that allows people to take a virtual tour of the school and ‘walk through’ the classroom learning environments. This interactive tool will assist parents to better understand the progression of learning and the inclined spiral plane of integrated studies that are at the foundation of the Boyd School’s curriculum.

The stunning 360-degree, interactive tour of the school was created through Google’s Street View technology and captured by the artful eye of local Google Trusted Photographer, Will Marlow. Using sophisticated image stitching, HDR, image matching and other technologies, Mr. Marlow created the panoramic walkthroughs of The Boyd School - Aldie Campus.

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The Montessori method of education used at the Boyd School is a child-centered, hands-on approach to learning that uses research derived, multi-sensory materials carefully organized in a prepared learning environment. Explaining the proper use and purpose of these materials allows for parents to better understand their child’s academic growth and achievement. Through the use of the interactive, virtual classroom tour, teachers and administrators will be better equipped to share this information. Prospective parents also have the opportunity to explore the school’s learning environment to aid them when considering schooling options for their child.