Summer Programs: Harnessing Our World!

Come join Montessori Academy of Naples for a summer of fun when MAN debunks the mysteries of every life.  Children ask questions, a lot of questions.  What all of their questions are really asking is “how does the world we live in work”  This summer MAN will address these questions about life in our Harnessing Our World Summer Programs that is essentially a “how to” guide to life.  Activities will center on answering “how do you do that” “how do you make that” “where does that come from” “how can I help, what can I do?”

A Montessori Education


If asked, many parents would say they have heard of Montessori.  For most, the word “preschool” would probably come to mind.  Beyond that, there is often only a vague notion of what a Montessori education truly entails and offers.  This makes sense since frankly not much is disseminated to the general public about this comprehensive educational method.

First, A Few Facts.  The Montessori Method was developed over a century ago by Dr. Maria Montessori.   It is a combination of philosophy, practices, and curriculum that are time-tested and well-respected in the United States and abroad.  The method is based on the natural drives, tendencies, and sensitive periods of the developing child and young adult.  Montessori programs, from infant through high school, provide strong cognitive and academic experiences while adhering to the basic principles of respecting the innate abilities and qualities of the child, and fostering independence, critical thinking skills, and social awareness.

Philosophy Basics.   Montessori views education as a life-long process beginning at birth and extending into adulthood.  It views the role of education as a preparation for life and, on a grander scale, as a means to a more peaceful, innovative, and prosperous society and world.  It views the role of the adult in the education process as that of an assistant, a guide to the natural development of the human being.  It views the child as a whole human being, born into this world well-equipped with the motivation and ability to learn and grow.  If you have ever watched an infant learn to crawl, pull themselves up, and walk, then you have witnessed first-hand the persistence, ingenuity, and courage we are all born with as well as the pure joy that comes from achievement through effort.  A Montessori education nurtures this inner drive to advance, assert, and extend oneself physically, socially, and cognitively.

Key Practices.  There are many elements that comprise a Montessori education.  Here are just a few hallmarks and benefits.

  • Montessori provides mixed-aged classrooms with three-year age spans.  The benefits?  Strong relationships are formed between the student, teacher, family, and class.  Younger students observe the interactions and work of older students and are motivated towards personal and academic challenges.  Older students mentor younger students, solidifying understanding of concepts and developing awareness of their ability to contribute and help others.
  •  The daily schedule uses an open-class work cycle format, preferably three hours per session.  During this time, students choose lessons independently and work either individually, with peers, and/or with a teacher.  The benefits?  Learning is maximized through daily opportunities for in-depth study.  Students master concepts at their own pace.  Students routinely exercise decision-making, time-management, leadership, and cooperative skills.  Students develop interests, concentration, self-direction, and self-discipline.  Students take ownership of their education.
  • Montessori teachers monitor progress through observation.  The benefits?  The teacher develops a comprehensive view of each child’s abilities and progress, their needs, and their unique social and work styles, skills, and habits.  The teacher uses this knowledge as a guide for lesson presentations, needed support, and additional challenges for each individual student.

Curriculum Foundation.   Montessori curriculum is sequential, reality-based, and integrated.  It represents all academic areas including the arts and physical education.  It also includes lessons in practical living and social skills.  The approach is hands-on.  Students, from infant through high school, learn by doing.  The work allows for concrete exploration and experience with abstract ideas.  Students master concepts at their own pace and then use this knowledge as a solid foundation for greater challenges.  The work is purposeful with real-life applications.  Creativity is nurtured by offering simple, uncluttered representations of concepts and processes, and giving the child the freedom to innovate.

Result.  Thoughtful, engaged, confident, self-disciplined, responsible, creative, resourceful, happy students.  Children who love school.  Children who love to learn.

A Montessori education is designed to help each person achieve their maximum potential so they can function fully in their lives, and become positive, active members of their family and community.  It allows the student to develop understanding of core academia.  It allows the child to exercise everything from higher-order thinking to social graces, and to develop awareness of their responsibility for themselves and to others.  Much like the child learning to walk, the Montessori student reaches, works, persists, and reaps the satisfaction of achievement.  In this process, they build resilience, self-confidence, trust, and empathy, and retain their innate love of learning.

For more information, Montessori Today by Paula Polk Lillard is a good introductory read, or simply Google “famous people who attended Montessori schools” and get their perspectives on Montessori.  The creators of Google is a good place to start.

Community of Adolescents

The Adolescent Community is off to an exciting and busy start.  In addition to settling into the school year and adjusting to the rigors of their academic studies, these dynamic middle-schoolers have taken up archery and photography, initiated a cupcake and coffee business, began familiarizing themselves with the work of the farm, revitalized the school gardens, and spearheaded the MAN yearbook.  Let’s back up for a moment and see how they got here.

When Montessori Academy of Naples first opened its doors in 2008, the Adolescent Program was a dream, hazy and idyllic somewhere in the distant future.  Over the years, the vision was clarified through the tireless dedication of the MAN Board of Directors, MAN staff, the families and friends of MAN, and the children who remind us to always look  forward to what comes next.  Needless to say, working towards it has been a labor of love and seeing it materialize piece-by-piece has been gratifying.  But nothing can compare to witnessing the first students step into this unique and progressive academic and social structure, and watching them so eagerly, joyfully, and naturally take the reins, and the responsibility, for their future.

Years of careful planning was employed before the first students registered.  The Adolescent environment was created with an eye toward providing students with access to whatever they need both now and in the years to come.  The teacher was hand-selected for her broad-ranging expertise, her understanding of the characteristics and the needs of the 12 to 15 year old student, and her understanding of Montessori.  In addition, she also possessed the unique blend of ability, energy, dedication, and energy (yes, it needs to be said twice) to create the malleable and precise mix of guidance, freedom, and opportunity necessary to foster the independence and development of a thriving community of adolescents.  Within this support structure, the students quickly settled into the routines of their day attending to core studies, participating in seminar (both an opportunity to enhance and expand learning, and to exercise innovative thinking and problem-solving) and brainstorming and researching both community-minded projects as well as new and interesting endeavors to pursue.  

Within the first few weeks of school, the students decided they wanted to take up archery and photography which created the first opportunities to navigate the adult world.  They went about finding and securing appropriate instructors and venues,  scheduling visits, and researching and procuring needed materials including funding.  Once they addressed all the practical details, they openly and eagerly embraced these ongoing experiences.  In this same time-frame, they began making regular visits to and working on the farm, enhanced the gardens around the modular units, and started to envision their micro-economy.  It was through their activities that the students began to realize the importance of the development of their micro-economy.  They themselves observed that its creation would be integral to their success and independence as funding for their pursuits would be an essential element moving forward.  From this realization their cupcake and cup of joe business was born.  Additionally, they realized that their growing knowledge of photography could be useful in the creation of a MAN yearbook.  It’s all connected!

MAN’s adolescents are a dynamic testimonial to the true beauty of a Montessori Adolescent experience.  It is not “like” life, it is life…one experience…one lesson…one inspiration leading to another.  Challenging and engaging, practical and innovative, demanding the most of the individual and a commitment to community…life.  While the vision and efforts of many created the Adolescent Program, in the end, it is the children who have created the Adolescent community.  What a joy it is to see these seeds take root and grow!

Learn more about MAN’s Adolescent Program.