The teachers also carefully observe and record each student's daily progress. In this way, a teacher knows which particular activity will contribute most to a child's progress at any given time.
Every teacher at O.M.S. is trained to fill her role the way Dr. Montessori described it:
The teacher moves quietly about, goes to any child who calls her, supervising operations in such a way that anyone who needs her finds her at his elbow, and whoever does not need her is not reminded of her existence.
Children who have mastered multiplication, for example, may be guided to the division board and counting beads. Once the students understand how they work, the teacher leaves them to discover for themselves the secrets and possibilities they hold and the concept they explain. By doing so, the teacher frees herself for others and, more importantly, lets the youngsters become the source of learning and pride in accomplishment.
Like the division board, most of the learning materials at O.M.S. are self-correcting. This means that if a child makes a mistake, the material allows the child to find and correct the error, with a sense of progress rather than of shame or failure.
The combination of teaching, materials, and spirit at O.M.S. encourages the students to learn by doing-participate fully, creatively, and skillfully in their education. We believe that, in this way, our children learn how to learn, and thus grow happily and securely in responsibility, inner discipline, and freedom.
Rather than teach youngsters only what they like, we teach in a way that enables the children to like what they must learn. In this way, each child finds in him or herself the motivation to keep on learning. And for each child we lay a foundation of learning that is broad enough and firm enough to support whatever they may choose to build on it in the future.
Our philosophy is based on the work of the Italian educator, Dr. Maria Montessori. Through her keen observation of the learning process, she recognized that education must shape itself to the nature of the learner, or risk distorting that nature and inhibiting learning, the way an ill-fitting shoe forces a person to walk slowly and awkwardly. When learning experiences fit children, they need not be bored by material that is too easy, or discouraged by material that is too hard. Instead, they realize their full potential naturally and with confidence
Rather than promoting competition above all, we encourage the children to share their learning experiences and reinforce each other's sense of accomplishment. In this cooperative environment children find that, through their own efforts, they are respected as contributing members of the group. Their respect for others and mastery of real and fruitful tasks-not drills or busywork-enable children to do what they love to do: to enjoy fellowship and at the same time experience a degree of independence within the group.
Our outstanding staff and excellent teacher-student ratio make such teaching possible. All of our teachers have been specially chosen for their effectiveness with, and understanding of, children. They really get to know each child and establish for all of them a prevailing atmosphere of warmth, patience, and helpfulness.
Everything in our school is designed to encourage and aid the child's natural curiosity and enthusiasm. There is freedom to move about and join with other children, to work quietly, to be lively, to laugh, to rest. The teachers move here and there, aware of what each child is doing, helping one, encouraging others, offering a hug or a word of praise. Each classroom presents a unique combination of order, comfort, and beauty. If you could mix the essence of a library, a workshop, and a clubhouse, the result would look and sound like an O.M.S. classroom.
Our concrete learning materials are stored on open shelves, so that the children have immediate access to whatever tools they may need in their work. No one has to wait or to ask permission to learn; curiosity flows without pause into purposeful activity.
The Montessori materials break down the learning of complex skills into separate steps, so that the student can learn one step at a time. At the same time, to provide enough practice for mastery without boring repetition, each skill or concept is illustrated by more than one material.
During the elementary school years children are most ready to absorb the basics of different subjects and to investigate a variety of activities. This is the ideal time for us to stress the essential core of English, math, geography, history, and the sciences, but also to offer French, ballet, music, art, drama, creative writing, and physical education, plus cooking, crafts and chess.
Throughout, the emphasis is on learning by doing and first-hand experiences. The youngsters learn foreign languages by talking with teachers who are native speakers. Tools such as a puzzle-map open the door to geography. Writing and acting in skits help the children grasp the drama of historical events and understand what daily life is like in other countries. Concrete materials-such as fraction wheels, beads and measuring devices are essential to the children's understanding of the more abstract areas of knowledge and are therefore provided in abundance.
Field trips and stimulating classroom visitors add to the children's excitement in learning and discovery.
Reading we teach which special care, using a program based on Dr. Montessori's ideas and developed by Betty Hengst. Because reading is the key to advanced learning, the program encourages our children to acquire this skill by making it a rewarding and spontaneous activity.
First we teach them to read-and then we let them read! It is important at first to let children have a free choice of books and to come to love reading for its own sake. Our library complements the reading program by providing all kinds of books without imposing artificial reading levels.
In addition to encouragement and guided opportunity, the youngsters need lots of unpressured time to master the harder things and pursue in depth what most intrigues them. How do we allow that time and yet insure that each child receives a balanced education with a firm foundation in the basics? At O.M.S there is an almost total absence if interruptions and time-wasting procedures. We find that youngsters permitted to work with concentration at their own rate learn quickly and well, and their delight with each new accomplishment leads them eagerly on to the next challenge. Our aim is always to aid this exciting process and never to interrupt it for our own purposes.
We take this approach to learning because it makes good sense and because it works. Our students do well on standard achievement tests. And although fewer than thirty percent of our students are deemed gifted, much of our curriculum is available elsewhere only in special programs for the gifted. Among our students are composers of music, aspiring astronomers and national prize-winning poets. Our children are capable of so much because we believe they are and because we give them the chance to try.
O.M.S. is not a perfect school, but neither is it a finished product. Our philosophy and the children themselves require us to grow and change-to be a living, human community rather than an institution cast in stone. What does endure here is a oneness of spirit and mutual respect, delight in learning, the habit of discovery, and the happiness of the children.
Location, Hours & Transportation
Our Montessori Elementary School is located in the Yorktown United Methodist Church, 2300 Crompond Road and St. Andrew's Lutheran Church, 2405 Crompond Road. We have several large modern classrooms, a nature trail and a large outside area.
O.M.S. is registered with the New York State Department of Education. The teachers are trained in the Montessori Method and are chosen because of their enthusiasm for their subjects and their ability to inspire their students. We are a non-denominational, non-sectarian school. Students are accepted without regard to race, creed, or national origin.
We generally follow the Yorktown public school calendar for holidays, and school hours are from 9:00 to 3:30 daily. For the convenience of working parents we offer a before-and-after school sitter service for all ages at the school at a nominal fee. A teacher is available for this from 7:00-9:00 a.m. and from 3:30-6:00 p.m. Students bring their own lunches.
Because we are a New York State registered school, students may ride the appropriate bus provided by the school system in which they live.