The Montessori Country School Ministry Program Statement Implementation Policy
MCS’s interpretation of Montessori pedagogy and programming is consistent with the Minister of Education’s Policy Statement as set out in “How Does Learning Happen (HDLH)?” It is important to note that Montessori pedagogy often describes children’s activities as ‘work’ where HDLH describes children’s activity as ‘play’ but the activities, as experienced by a child, are one in the same.
This Ministry program statement will be reviewed with staff, volunteers and students annually, whenever an amendment is made or at start of employment or placement
MCS holds the view that all children are competent, capable, curious and rich in potential.
This Ministry statement describes our goals for children at MCS and the approaches that we implement to meet those goals.
The following are ways in which we will promote the health, safety, nutrition and well-being at MCS:
- MCS classrooms are designed to meet the CCEYA requirements with regards to size, window space, number of students, activities and temperature
- The playgrounds meet the requirements of square footage, age appropriate activities, annually inspected equipment, and appropriate numbers of children
- A playground policy has been established and reviewed by staff, student teachers and volunteers
- Adult to student ratios are always maintained, including outdoor times
- All staff are certified with Standard First Aid and CPR, and are recertified annually
- Records of Accident/Injury are completed as required and monthly analysis occurs to address any trends or problem areas
- An anaphylaxis policy has been established and has been reviewed by the staff, student teachers and volunteers
- Nutritious meals and snacks are provided by our caterer, Wholesome Kids Catering and follow all Canadian Food Guide for portion sizes
- Our kitchen is inspected by York Region Public Health to ensure compliance with all regulations and sanitary practices
- Proper food handling procedures are followed by staff, student teachers and volunteers
- Daily naps are provided for students in cots with appropriate bedding
- Sanitary practices policy has been established and reviewed by staff, student teachers and volunteers
- School building is locked, and front doors are supervised to permit entrance only to parents and family members
- A medication policy has been established and reviewed by staff, student teachers and volunteers
- Monthly health and safety inspections are conducted by the Health and Safety Committee
- Playground inspections occur daily, monthly and, annually
- Water testing is completed monthly
- Regular fire drills and annual fire inspections are completed
- Health inspections are completed by York Region Public Health Department
- A Serious Occurrence Policy was established and reviewed with staff, student teachers and volunteers
- Behaviour Guidance and Discipline Policies have been established and reviewed by staff, student teachers and volunteer
These are communicated in our staff policies and in the Parent Handbook. They are applied to all members of the MCS community – staff, Board, interns, students, parents, volunteers, observers and visitors. The following are ways in which we will support positive and responsive interactions at MCS:
- Through the Montessori lessons of Grace and Courtesy, students are introduced to the Code of Conduct
- Multi-age grouping – we learn from each other
- Behaviour Guidance Policy has been established and reviewed by staff, student teachers and volunteers
- Formal Parent/Teacher meetings are conducted twice a year, with additional meetings scheduled as necessary. These meetings can be face-to-face, telephone, email, etc.
- Special events encourage a sense of community, eg: BBQ, concerts, presentations, parent education nights, special speakers, etc.
- We celebrate cultural diversity
- We promote community connections with local charities and visitors from the community; for example: food drives for local food bank, Free the Children, etc.
- Parents are invited to observe in any classroom
This provides many opportunities for interactions with children older and younger than themselves, and with adults. We also have a Code of Conduct that is applied consistently throughout the school but according to the maturity of the children involved. The following are ways in which we will promote children to interact and communicate in a positive way at MCS:
- Staff use positive re-direction of behavior; eg. “Walking please!” rather than “Don’t run”
- Montessori education promotes Peace Education
- Montessori education promotes care of self and care of the environment
- Montessori materials give children the opportunity to self-correct, learn from mistakes and explore personal interests
- Group lessons, circle, etc. promote positive communication methods
- Children are encouraged to observe each other, teach each other and learn from each other
- Staff, student teachers and volunteers are role models for children
There are activities that assist children to become independent or able to assist others in care of the self, care of the environment and care of others (Grace and Courtesy); activities to explore and refine all the senses as well as discover sequencing and order; activities to increase vocabulary, encourage discussion, explore sounds, and begin to develop the process of writing and reading, and activities to develop number sense, numeracy, understanding of large quantities, the mathematical operations, geometry and even rudimentary algebra concepts and then lots of activities to introduce all the wonderful things in our world. In addition, there are activities for cutting, colouring, painting, exploring colour, shape and texture, pasting, etc. Children understand where everything is kept, and they are able to choose and return things independently and with their friends. The following are ways in which we foster the children’s exploration, play and inquiry at MCS:
- Each classroom has a full complement of Montessori materials
- Outdoor areas have a variety of age appropriate with interesting activities and equipment available
- Children have uninterrupted time to explore and learn
- Children are offered a variety of opportunities for self-expression; eg. Art, music
- Children are offered a variety of opportunities for physical development and motor exploration in the outdoor environment, gym or gross motor room
- Staff use the outdoor environment for learning and activities and our students are encouraged to incorporate the use of the outdoors in their placement requirements
- Children’s individual interests are followed and encouraged by the staff, student teachers and volunteers
All Montessori materials are introduced to a child by an adult or by another child, and while the Montessori adults are always observing children to see what support each child might need, they are very sensitive to allowing children their own initiative as this most often results in children being deeply engaged and peaceful in what they are doing. Adults are always trying to find exactly the right moment to introduce a child to something new so that they have enough time to master something but also are always being gently challenged. The following are ways in which we provide child-initiated and adult-supported experiences at MCS:
- Freedom of choice is essential in a Montessori environment
- Montessori educators are advocates for the child
- Children’s choices and development are observed by the staff, student teachers and volunteers
- Staff, student teachers and volunteers observe the child’s progress, understanding of concepts, learning style, interests, etc.
- Lesson plans and record keeping are maintained weekly and monthly
- Anecdotal notes are maintained
- Daily logs are maintained
- Formal reports to address observations and assessments
- The classroom is designed specifically for the age of the child, eg. Child’s size furniture, work is easily accessible, etc.
- Staff receive regular professional development to understand how to meet the needs of each individual child and learning style
We plan for and create positive learning environments and experiences in which each child’s learning and development is supported by using the international Montessori curriculum and materials that have been proven through research to be effective with children from all socio-economic and cultural groups.
The following are ways in which we plan for and create positive learning environments at MCS:
- Individual lesson plans are created for each child, weekly, monthly, and term based on Montessori curriculum
- Daily observations are used to plan for each child
- Additional activities are also introduced to enhance learning; eg. Field trips, guests, etc.
- Meetings and observations from Principal or Vice Principals or colleagues for support and modifications of programs
- Staff have professional development opportunities for learning styles, learning strategies, learning differences, etc.
- Resource teacher on staff to support in providing assessments, observations, recommendations and referrals
Children can choose to move about the class carrying things or building things or sit quietly at a table moving intricate pieces. Children can choose to have snack or a drink when they are hungry or thirsty; they do not have to wait for the whole group. Our classes have large, well equipped outdoor environments, that children access in groups twice each day. The following are ways in which we incorporate indoor and outdoor play, rest and quiet time, and consider the individual needs of the children at MCS:
- Uninterrupted work time which respects the child’s freedom of choice
- Gross motor opportunities in the gross motor room or gym and outdoors daily
- Opportunities for quiet activities; e.g. Library corner in every room, rest periods
- Ample supplies provided for all activities
- Snacks table available during the morning and afternoon work cycles, where children can eat when they are hungry
We foster the engagement of and ongoing communication with parents about the program and their children by having regular group meetings with parents to explain what is happening in the classrooms, inviting parents in to observe their children, writing monthly class newsletters and sending home little explanations of the creations that children bring home.
Parents can access their child’s teacher by leaving a voicemail/email or by chatting briefly at the door during arrival and dismissal. We also have whole school events where the parents of the younger children can meet and discuss their child’s experience with parents of older children. The following are ways in which we foster the engagement of and ongoing communication with parents about the program and their children at MCS:
- Parents can schedule appointments and meetings with staff in person or over the phone or via email
- Records are kept of daily snack, sleep, toileting
- Transparent Classroom is a communications platform utilized at the school which allows teachers to post messages, photos and share with our families. There is also the capability to complete documents in the system such as permission forms for excursions. Teachers can note specific materials children are working with and parents can explore the lessons and purpose behind each.
- Formal interviews are scheduled twice per year, but parents can schedule additional meetings at any time
- Parent Education workshops are regularly scheduled to assist parents with understanding child development, Montessori curriculum, etc.
- Weekly memo is sent home with pertinent information about the child’s program and upcoming events
- Monthly calendars for each classroom are sent at the beginning of each month
- Parents are encouraged to observe in their child’s classroom
We welcome specialists from private agencies and find spaces for them to work with our children and we meet with the parents and these specialists as necessary. The following are ways in which we involve community partners at MCS:
- Teachers make observations and referrals for Speech Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Hearing Specialists, etc.
- Speech, OT, Hearing Specialist support the needs of the children and are welcome at MCS
- We participate in local events and charities; eg. Food and toy drives, local fairs and parades, etc.
- Community partners come to school to share their expertise; eg. Firefighters
Our staff also set goals for themselves in discussion with their direct reports and we plan for how to support them in the achievement of those goals. We have a budget dedicated to Professional Development that any staff person can access depending on their particular needs. We have three Professional Development days set aside each year where staff are encouraged to either work together and plan for improvements or attend workshops/conferences. Our Vice Principal and Principal walk about the school regularly, observing in classes and then engaging the staff in conversation about their observations. We also meet monthly to discuss ongoing issues or topics of particular interest. Each staff member also spends time three times per year observing in another’s class. The following are ways in which we support our staff and others in relation to continuous professional learning at MCS:
- Staff are encouraged and supported financially to attend Professional Development opportunities outside of school
- CCMA, CAMT, York Region Capacity Building and OFIS provide workshops and conferences on a variety of topics
- Professional Development opportunities are shared among staff via email or postings
- The school library has a staff resource section
- Staff participate in monthly goal setting meetings with administrative mentors
- During CCMA accreditations, self-evaluations are conducted
- Observations of other classrooms, within the school, as well as outside the school are required by all staff members
- MCS accepts and mentor’s student teachers from Montessori training schools
The following are ways in which we document and review the impact of the above strategies on the children and their families at MCS:
• CCMA re-accreditation (spring 2015)
• MCS is continually observing, assessing, evaluating our program and ensuring that we are following Montessori pedagogy
• We get feedback from parent surveys, meetings, various inspectors (Health, Fire, Water)
For the full Parent Handbook 2020-2021, click HERE