Montessori childcare centers and preschools are often called “schools”, to differentiate them from the babysitting and custodial aspects of daycare. Montessori is known for fostering a love of learning and is so much more than a traditional daycare. Children have the freedom to choose their work materials according to their interest and skill level, and are given 3-hour work cycles so that they have the time needed to become fully immersed in their work with minimal interruptions, and are able to build concentration skills.
Here we use Montessori theory and practice to encourage the child to become an independent and confident learner and human being. Our deliberate Montessori classroom environments foster trust so that the child can grow holistically – in intellect, emotional intelligence, social interaction, physical capabilities, and in spirit. Our goal is to maintain an enviroment inspired by Maria Montessori, a physician and educator who observed that children learn best in situations where they can be self-directed. We provide small groups, individualized learning, and a calm and beautiful environment.
At Yadkin Path Montessori we understand the importance of a child’s need to move. It is not developmentally appropriate to expect preschool aged children to sit still and quietly all day, listening to a teacher lecturing about subjects they may have no interest in. Children in our school are free to move about the indoor classroom and choose from work on the shelves, or to explore the outdoor environment. Many of our children would stay outside the whole day, if able, and in the spirit of “following the child” sometimes we have picnics outside, and even rest outside under the shade of our beautiful trees.
A peacefulness is found when immersed in nature; to feel the warm sun and the gentle breeze is so grounding and nurturing to the soul. Unlike many traditional child care centers, children at Yadkin Path are not confined to 30-minute blocks of time once or twice a day in a cramped, fenced area paved with concrete or scattered with mulch, but have the ability to go on nature walks across our campus, run and play in our grassy fields, climb trees in our woods, gather wildflower bouquets in our meadows, and observe turtles and frogs in our pond. Our children and teachers go outside every day, rain or shine and we agree with the British explorer who said, “There is no such thing as bad weather – only inappropriate clothing.”
Another unique aspect of Yadkin Path Montessori is our staff’s trained ability to trust the child and to view them as capable, complete humans. We recognize the bodily autonomy of even the tiniest of infants, and seek to protect and encourage the child’s control over their own body. Our staff helps children to continue to listen to their own bodily cues, resting when tired, eating when hungry, drinking when thirsty, toileting when the child (and the child’s body) begin showing readiness signs. We foster independence in children and support each child’s natural progression of development, even when inconvenient for the adults in the child’s life. Our staff never knowingly prohibits a child’s development (for any reason!) but especially not for as trivial a reason as someone else’s convenience.
On each child’s journey to independence, we value progress over perfection. For this reason, a toddler may be seen leaving our school at the end of the day with her shoes on the wrong feet, pants on backwards, and shirt on inside out. An outside observer may find this strange – why wouldn’t we correct the child and show them how to put these items on their body properly? But perhaps what that outside observer doesn’t know is that this child has been struggling for weeks trying to get dressed completely independently, and insisted on doing each step on her own. Getting these items of clothing on her body (albeit inside out and backwards) all by herself is a huge milestone in a toddler’s life, and one that is often highly celebrated with cries of “I did it! I did it! Look, I did it all by myself!” How crushing to the child’s confidence and sense of self worth to be told in this moment of pride that how they dressed themselves is wrong. How completely invalidated her weeks of struggles and now her moments of success would feel. Instead, the staff at Yadkin Path would celebrate along with the child and then later, after the child has progressed in her abilities, give lessons on how to get shoes on the proper foot, pants on straight, and shirts on right-side-out.
These are just a few ways that we at Yadkin Path Montessori are unique from any other child care center or school in Rowan County and the surrounding area. We have found that families who thrive here have the following things in common:
They are committed to building their child’s independence, autonomy, and sense of self
They are interested in growing the “whole child” so they are not overly focused on academic achievement alone, but on the self-actualization of the entire person
They see the benefits of their children spending lots of time outdoors and embrace the joyfulness of a muddy child after an afternoon of exploration
They are respectful and graceful, seek community, and are dedicated to social responsibility and diversity
They are global citizens who care about the Earth, multi-culturalism, and nurturing human potential
They embrace risk-taking, welcome mistakes, and celebrate failure as part of learning
They understand how crucial the early years of learning and brain development are
As a mother of three children who attend the school, I am fully invested in making this program a success. I and my children feel so at home here, and love the individualized education our teachers provide. We also appreciate all the hours our staff pour into these little humans, helping them learn emotional regulation, peaceful conflict resolution, effective communication skills, and respect for themselves, each other, and our environment. Yadkin Path Montessori is so much more than just “daycare”. YPM isn’t just preparation for school; it’s preparation for life.