When you consider that Dr. Maria Montessori developed the Montessori Method of education over a century ago, describing Montessori as progressive and innovative seems like a paradox. Yet this very purposeful way of learning is increasing in popularity now to become one of the fastest growing forms of education in the United States. Research indicates that the Montessori learning environment fosters children who have an elevated social, emotional and cognitive skillset that is difficult to replicate in a traditional learning environment.
Furthermore, while various assessments do exist, the focus is on learning, rather than tests or grades, which is very attractive for families who are increasingly growing weary of testing pressures in traditional schools.
The primary principles of a Montessori education center around the child and their natural ability to learn when provided the proper materials and support. There is a strong belief that self-directed learning in an enriched classroom and community, led by Montessori trained teachers, develops a lifelong love of learning and education.
These principles support independence, curiosity, discovery, self-regulation, and self-assessment, all in an environment where children learn at their own pace and subsequently obtain a high level of internal satisfaction. In this environment, children in mixed aged classrooms are able to develop their potential as thinkers, learners, and valuable members of a close, caring community, where each child is valued for their uniqueness. While there is a significant amount of independence, the environment is highly structured and expectations are clear and recalibrated regularly.
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For families in Charlotte, we are fortunate to have both private and public Montessori options in the area; CMS offers four Montessori Magnet schools from Pre-K to Grade 8, and is exploring adding more Montessori programs at the secondary level. As a word of caution, the term “Montessori” is not trademarked and though schools may often describe their teaching methods as “Montessori”, there can be a wide variation in interpretation. There are two professional organizations, Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) and American Montessori Society (AMS), who are dedicated to bringing and maintaining the integrity of the principles of Dr. Montessori to education, and only recognizes schools who share this dedication. Families who are researching Montessori options are advised to visit the AMI and AMS websites for more information about member schools that meet this criteria.
Montessori Schools in the Charlotte Area:
http://anamimontessori.org/ | 2901 Archdale Drive Charlotte 28210 | Ages 3-12
The mission of Anami Montessori School, recognized by the Association Montessori International (AMI), is to provide an exceptional Montessori environment designed in accordance with the developmental characteristics and needs of children; and to aid, nourish and guide the natural development of each child – physically, intellectually, socially and emotionally. Anami Montessori’s home is a lovely, wooded site that backs onto a 120-acre county park in the SouthPark region of Charlotte. The school houses three spacious classrooms (two primary classes and one elementary class). Its outdoor environment includes a deck and garden for each class, playground, natural wooded area and grassy hillside.
Chantilly Montessori School (CMS Public)
http://schools.cms.k12.nc.us/chantillyES/Pages/Default.aspx | 701 Briar Creek Road 28205 | Pre K – 6th Grade
At Chantilly Montessori our vision is to be a collaborative and supportive environment that realizes excellence and growth in student achievement by meeting the needs of the whole child. We nurture peaceful relationships through respect, social awareness and community building. Students and adults are committed to environmental stewardship, interdisciplinary integration, increased use of technology and continued Montessori education for all.
Charlotte Montessori School (Private)
http://www.charlottemontessori.com/ | 219 East Boulevard 28203 | Ages 15 months-K
Charlotte Montessori School is committed to providing an environment for our children to explore and expand the boundaries of their world. Our classrooms meet and challenge the needs of each child, and provide a calm environment for learning and growth. We are committed to using the methods developed by Dr. Maria Montessori that will provide the children with what she termed “an education for life.”
Charlotte Preparatory School (Private)
http://www.charlotteprep.org/earlyschool | 212 Boyce Road 28211 | Grades Pre-Primary - TK
Charlotte Preparatory School’s Early School is based on Montessori principles because we believe this to be the most successful method to teach young children, and the most effective way to enable them to reach their full potential. Studies comparing outcomes of children educated at Montessori preschools with children who attended traditional preschool programs indicate that early Montessori education leads to significant advantages in academic and social skills upon entering elementary school.
http://www.christianmontessorischool.org/ | 14101 Stumptown Road Huntersville | Ages 6 wks-6th Grade
It is our mission to provide families with a Christian Montessori education that celebrates the individual gifts of the child, nurtures a passion for learning and Biblical principles, and equips them for academic excellence and discipleship.
Countryside Montessori School (Private)
http://www.countrysidemontessorischools.org/ | 4755 Prosperity Church Road 28269 I Primary- 12th Grade
(Primary, Elementary, and Secondary Programs reside on different campuses)
Countryside Montessori School will provide an excellent education using the Montessori philosophy while growing the school with a diverse, committed, and engaged group of students, families, and staff. Countryside Montessori School is a model Montessori school that provides globally competent, engaged leaders through a focus on academic excellence and stewardship of the community.
Highland Mill Montessori (CMS Public)
http://schools.cms.k12.nc.us/highlandmillES/Pages/Default.aspx | 3201 Clemson Avenue 28205 | PreK-6th Grade
Highland Mill Montessori fosters a peaceful and caring environment by embedding elements of grace and courtesy throughout the curriculum. We provide individualized, rigorous instruction that addresses unique learning styles and encourages curiosity and creativity while focusing on the Montessori curriculum to prepare student leaders for a changing global community.
Montessori Adolescent Program at Sedgefield (CMS Public)
http://schools.cms.k12.nc.us/sedgefieldMS/Pages/Default.aspx | 2700 Dorchester Place 28209 | 7th-8th Grade
"The child is both a hope and a promise for mankind"
Omni Montessori School (Private)
http://www.omni-montessori.org// | 9536 Blakeney Heath Road 28277 | Primary-9th Grade
(Primary & Elementary Campus is located on 7 acres in Blakeney, Adolescent Campus is located on 13 acres in Waxhaw)
Omni Montessori School is dedicated to:
Developing skilled, resourceful, and caring members of society who value discovery and excellence, and contribute with purpose to the world around them.
Providing a child-centered environment that offers an individualized and integrated curriculum and programs for parent education and support.
Creating significant relationships between teacher, parent, and child, and to building a community that remains stable in spite of necessary change.
Seeking and celebrating diversity.
Adhering to the teachings of Maria Montessori and the high standards of the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI).
Park Road Montessori (CMS Public)
http://schools.cms.k12.nc.us/parkroadES/Pages/Default.aspx | 3701 Haven Drive | Grades Pre-K-6th
The goal of Park Road Montessori is to provide an optimal learning environment that is based upon Montessori pedagogy that will guide, develop and nurture the individual child. Respect for the child is the foundation of Park Road Montessori’s philosophy. The staff of Park Road Montessori believes strongly that the needs of the child come first - children, not subjects are taught. The Montessori Method is based on careful observation of and respect for the natural development of the child and has been used to educate children in America and around the world for over 100 years.
Association Montessori International USA: http://amiusa.org/
American Montessori Society: http://amshq.org/
CMS Montessori Magnet Programs: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/cmsdepartments/ci/MagnetPrograms/MagnetThemes/Pages/Montessori.aspx
Gi Hallmark offers a detailed local view on topics related to families in Charlotte in her blog “The Loop.” Gi is a freelance writer and the mother of two lovely girls. For more information about Gi, her blog, and her passion for reading, follow her on Twitter @thechildrnsblog.