Maimonides and Montessori – a perfect match

Photo: Students at Maimonides Jewish Day School learn their states using a hands-on approach.

Maimonides Jewish Day School introduced its new Montessori-inspired program and curriculum at the start of the 2019-2020 school year.

When Maimonides’ administrators and faculty wondered how they could make Maimonides even more personal, meaningful and inspiring, they decided to explore the Montessori Method of Education.

The Montessori Method is a child-centered educational approach based on scientific observations of children developed by Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and educator.

She discovered that experiential learning in this type of classroom led to a deeper understanding of language, mathematics, science, music, social interactions and much more.

A Montessori classroom integrates children of mixed ages that are grouped in periods of three years. Children work with concrete materials that are scientifically designed, providing them the keys to exploring the world and developing necessary cognitive abilities. The teacher acts as both an observer and a guide offering age-appropriate activities. This allows children to act, want and think by themselves, and helps them to develop confidence and inner discipline.

Every material in a Montessori classroom supports an aspect of child development, creating a match between the child’s natural interests and the available activities. Children can learn through their own experience and at their own pace. They can respond at any moment to the natural curiosities that exist in all humans and build a solid foundation for life-long learning.

The Montessori Method complements Maimonides’ mission to inspire life-long learning and to ensure a personal, meaningful and empowering education to its growing and diverse community of Jewish children in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Maimonides made its decision to adopt the Montessori method after requesting and receiving input and encouragement from scholars, its board of directors, faculty and local community members, as well as engaging in site visits to schools around the country that have initiated Montessori-style programs.

“Our community and our world continue to grow and become more diverse,” says Rabbi Shneur Wilhelm, Maimonides principal. “Maimonides is committed to evolve to meet today’s challenges while maintaining a strong commitment to the teachings of the Torah and the Jewish way of life.”

“Integrating Montessori-inspired practices means increased trained staff for greater individualized attention for our students and the creation of student work plans, just to name two updates, all of which strengthen our already robust core values and mission,” he adds.

Maimonides will roll out its Montessori-inspired program over the next three academic years.

Features of the new program include:

Three-year cycles: This provides a rich community atmosphere where young children can learn from older children and older children can be teachers and leaders.

Increased staff-to-student ratio: As our students navigate their learning experience, an increased number of trained teachers, classroom assistants and staff are on hand to support the needs of all children.

The prepared environment: The physical classroom space is carefully planned and prepared to be beautiful, inviting, and orderly and appropriate and flexible for the age group it will house.

Student work plans: Work plans are self-directed learning guides that students work through on an individualized schedule to help foster independence, self-awareness, self-evaluation and problem-solving skills.

For more information on Maimonides Jewish Day School, contact 503-977-7850 or visit portlandjewishschool.com.

 

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