Fredericksburg Parent

January 2015

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20 Fredericksburg Parent and Family • January 2015 Ask the Expert Odyssey Montessori is a non-profit Montessori school serving children from pre- school to 8 th grade. Since its inception in 2001, Odyssey has emphasized the devel- opment of the whole child, including academic, social and emotional development, while striving to instill a lifetime love of learning, achieving, creat- ing and being challenged. Odyssey Montessori developmental age cycles and creating learning communi- ties made up of mixed age groups. This way young children can learn from the older children and older children can solidify what they have learned by mentoring young children. Traditionally, an early childhood classroom will have students from 3-6 years old, lower elementary (1st-3rd grade) is from 6-9 years old, upper elementary (4th-6th grade) is 9-12 years old. Montessori middle school (7th and 8th grade) is about 12-15 years old. Q: Do Montessori students have homework and take tests? In general, Montessori students below sixth grade do not have homework or take tests. At Odyssey, once students enter 7th grade, we begin to implement a process that will help them transition to a more traditional setting. This includes homework and practice tests. Taking tests is a nat- ural part of higher education and we believe test-taking skills are something that older students should learn. However, we don't want students to focus on the outcome of tests by memorizing information just to achieve a high score. We want our students to learn and demonstrate that they know the information through application. Additionally, we want our students to learn good habits that create a work-life balance. This includes having a balance between work and play, which is why at Odyssey we don't assign homework. Occasionally, students may want to take work home and we allow this. When students get older, we begin to transition to assigning homework through projects that must be com- pleted. This assists students in setting deadlines and manag- ing their own time. Q: What is Montessori? Montessori is an educational approach developed by Dr. Maria Montessori. Dr. Montessori was an Italian physician who through scientific study discovered that with the right materials and right structuring, school could be a place where children are happy, free, self- directed learners, collaborators, and problem solvers. Montessori education has been in prac- tice for over 100 years. There are over 20,000 Montessori schools worldwide and 4,500 in the United States. Montessori students learn the same subjects that students in traditional schools learn. The difference between Montessori and traditional school is in how students receive that informa- tion. Ben Franklin famously said, "Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn." Montessori students are involved in their education, which goes well beyond sim- ply memorizing information. Q: I have only heard of Montessori pre- schools are there schools for other grade levels, too? Maria Montessori envisioned that her methods could be adapted for students through high school. However, it depends on the school. There are some Montessori schools that only serve students in preschool and kindergarten (called early childhood programs) and others that have elementary, middle, and high school programs. Odyssey Montessori has grade levels for students from preschool to 8th grade. In a Montessori school, we focus on three-year a sk t h e e x p e rt Head of tHe Class

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