Metropolitan Montessori School is guided by the philosophy of Maria Montessori, an Italian physician who opened her first school in 1907. Her approach to learning emphasized the social and emotional development of children as well as the acquisition of knowledge and skills. She created mixed-aged environments where children learned from hands-on experience, developing independence, respect for other and responsible work habits. More than 100 years later, thousands of schools around the world call themselves “Montessori” schools and have interpreted Maria Montessori’s ideas in different ways.
Metropolitan Montessori School is the only Montessori school in Manhattan with an elementary program. The school is accredited by both the American Montessori Society and the New York State Association of Independent Schools, two organizations that undertake extensive evaluations of mission, governance and curriculum. The school is known for its excellent academic program, sending its sixth grade graduates to highly selective schools in New York City. In 2013, the school received a “Blackboard” award for its outstanding nursery and Elementary program.
Metropolitan uses many classic Montessori materials and teaching approaches in its Early Childhood and Elementary program as well as other established methodologies such as Singapore Math and the literacy curriculum developed by the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. The school also offers foreign language, choral music, violin, drama, visual art and physical education.
Montessori in Primary
The Primary classrooms serve ages 3 through 6. In the first two years, the children explore the following areas:
- Practical life (polishing, pouring, sweeping, cutting, chopping vegetables, washing, fastening zippers, buttons, etc.)
- Sensorial awareness (activities that encourage the child to recognize and differentiate colors, weights, shapes, textures, sizes, sounds and smells)
- Mathematics (counting and number concepts)
- Language (activities focusing on phonics and phonemic awareness)
- Cultural themes (including celebrations from other countries, artists, historical figures)
In kindergarten, children participate in the mixed-age Primary classrooms in the morning, and in the afternoon, break into kindergarten groups for reading, writing and group-based work in preparation for first grade. The kindergarteners begin foreign language instruction, with exposure to both French and Spanish; visit the art room for art class; begin violin instruction with the strings teacher; work with the school’s librarian and literacy and math coaches; and take day-long trips to Black Rock Forest as well as field trips to New York cultural institutions.
Montessori in Elementary
In Lower Elementary (ages 6 to 9), concrete materials are used to explain concepts in math, geometry, history, geography, nature and science. Students work collaboratively and independently, and they have numerous opportunities to explore the world outside the classroom during field trips to New York City landmarks and Black Rock Forest. Upper Elementary preserves the goals and values of the Montessori philosophy but prepares students for selective ongoing New York City schools. Students are provided with opportunities for self-directed study, in-depth analysis, small group work, peer teaching and individual conferences/goal setting with teachers. They also have blocks of uninterrupted work time, daily homework assignments, tests and grades. Many of the classes are taught as seminars, emphasizing discussion and debate. Technology is incorporated into their studies, and is used for research, communication and creative expression.
"The Joy of Discovery"
Will Wright, creator of the SimCity video games, explained to The New Yorker in 2006 how his Montessori education influenced him. “Montessori taught me the joy of discovery … It showed you can become interested in pretty complex theories, like Pythagorean theory, say, by playing with blocks. It’s all about learning on your terms, rather than a teacher explaining stuff to you. SimCity comes right out of Montessori—if you give people this model for building cities, they will abstract from it principles of urban design.”