Montessori students in the classroom. Black Press file photo

Montessori students in the classroom. Black Press file photo

Comox Valley Montessori program open houses upcoming

The classroom hums like a sushi restaurant.

Everyone knows where to be and what to do.

Mats define the spaces where children purposefully attend to their work. Materials are being taken from and delivered back to shelves, which are arranged with care and precision. A teacher circles around the children, many of whom don’t register her presence because of their work. Their work is their world at this moment. Some children work alone; others problem-solve together. The children are of differing ages. Their chronological age offers no barriers to their connections to each other. The flow of information is fluent, effortless even. This is a Montessori classroom.

Enter one of these classrooms in the Comox Valley and you will see students in a multi-age configuration working together or alongside each other using colourful, hands-on materials to further their learning. Queneesh and Courtenay Elementary house the public Montessori program for the Comox Valley, which together support nine divisions educating students in grades K-7. Montessori is a choice program, which welcomes children from all neighborhoods in the Comox Valley.

Shannon Dakiniewich who enrolled all three of her children in the Montessori program at Queneesh says that the program provides “a well-rounded education,” citing the grace and courtesy lessons that accompany academics, which encourage her children to “show respect for the classroom, peers, and school.”

She feels the program will set her children up for success in the future, including high school.

The Montessori education philosophy places an emphasis on real-world connections, supporting students through projects involving cooking food, using tools (saws, hammers, etc.) to construct things, and writing notes and letters to members of the community. The Montessori concept of “going out” refers to learning that happens beyond the classroom. This is when students connect with the real world outside of school. In some cases, these lessons may look like field trips, where students are encouraged to put their grace and courtesy lessons into practice, or they may involve service-learning and community-based projects.

Catherine Munro, an educator of a grades 1-3 class at Queneesh (and mother of two children in the Montessori program) explains that real-world applications of learning make sense to students.

“If they can perceive how their learning will be useful in their lives, both now and in the future, it is more meaningful and motivating to engage in. Tthis approach is not unique to Montessori, but in addition to the brilliant materials we have to work with and a pedagogical approach that favours student-led learning and built-in peer support, it results in a certain kind of magic of enhanced learning.”

Queneesh and Courtenay Elementary will be hosting open houses for families hoping to learn more, including touring the Montessori classrooms. The open house at Queneesh Elementary is Jan. 18 at 6 pm.

Courtenay Elementary will welcome families on Jan. 20. For more information about the open house or to register your K-7 children in the Montessori program, please contact Queneesh Elementary at 250-334-4089 or Courtenay Elementary at 250-338-5396. More information can also be found at https://cvmontessori.com.

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