Staunton Montessori School students are divided into three programs, based on age. Students ages 2 1/2 through 6 are enrolled in the primary program (preschool and kindergarten.) Students ages 6 through 12 are enrolled in the elementary program (grades 1-3 & 4-6.) Our adolescent program is for students ages 12-15 (grades 7-9.)
The goals for our primary students are fundamental: to acquire confidence in themselves and an independence of thought and action. These three- to six-year-olds work alone or in small groups, receiving lessons from the teacher and each other. Staunton Montessori School has two primary classrooms. Children who are 2 1/2 to 3 and toilet trained are accepted into the primary program. The primary day begins at 8:15 a.m. The primary children in the preschool program dismiss at 11:45 a.m. each day and the afternoon children in the kindergarten program remain until 2:45 p.m.
Children in the Elementary program continue their growth toward independence, responsibility, and becoming contributing members of society. There are two elementary classrooms at SMS: Traditional grades 1-3 (ages 6-9) and grades 4-6 (ages 9-12). The students in each class work alone or in small groups as they receive lessons from the teacher in two designated three-hour work periods. Much of the work in the first three years uses manipulative materials, where in the second three-year cycle the students produce more concrete work in the form of papers and projects. The teacher guides the students to explore all areas of the classroom including language, math, geometry, botany, geography, history, music and physical education. On Thursday afternoons our Elementary students have specials which include art, Spanish, music and PE. The Elementary day begins at 8:15 a.m. and dismisses at 3:00 p.m.
The adolescent program serves students in grades 7-9 (ages 12-15) following the recommendations of Dr. Maria Montessori by providing a hands-on, project-based learning experience embedded in the rural communities of central Virginia.
Students work together in project groups during rotating occupations and humanities cycles of four and five weeks examining the functioning of human systems in all aspects: social, political, economic, and cultural. Occupations and Humanities cycles run concurrently so as not to “compartmentalize” concepts or knowledge but rather to integrate and investigate relationships. Mathematical concepts are used during the project investigations but new material in pre-algebra is taught separately during two hour-long math classes each week. The first year of the program uses Wheelock’s Latin for foreign language study two hours each week.
In this hands-on experience, students actively participate in care of themselves, their personal group, and the regional community through: planting, harvesting, and preparing their own food; actively conserving natural resources by establishing recycling and zero-waste processes; caring for animals; crafting a budget and operating a business; designing, building, repairing, and maintaining infrastructure; volunteering in the local community.
The adolescent day starts at 8:15 a.m. and dismisses at 3:00 p.m. with overnights to local farms and adventure trips planned throughout the academic year.
SMS offers an after school program each day for our students during the school year with three pick-up times: 3 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Drop-in spaces, and three and five-day fee schedules allow for more flexibility. Morning students who stay for aftercare enjoy lunchtime, a rest period, organized activities, and a snack period. Elementary aftercare is also available from 3-6 p.m., with a snack period included.