At The French Académie of Minnetonka, we work from the French curriculum while incorporating a blend of the Montessori and Reggio Emilia philosophy to foster an environment where curiosity, independence, and a love for learning flourish. In this exploration, we delve into the ways our Minneapolis french immersion school artfully integrates Montessori principles into its curriculum, creating a vibrant tapestry of holistic education for our little learners.
At the heart of Montessori philosophy lies the belief that children learn best when they are actively engaged and curious. Our preschool classrooms are carefully designed to encourage self-directed learning. Children have the freedom to choose from a variety of activities, promoting a sense of independence and autonomy from a young age.
Purposeful Classroom Materials
Montessori classrooms are renowned for their meticulously crafted educational materials. At The French Academie, our materials are purposefully selected to encourage sensory exploration, fine and gross motor skills development, and cognitive growth. Each material serves a specific educational purpose, allowing children to grasp abstract concepts through hands-on experiences.
Reflecting the Montessori commitment to mirroring real-world environments, our preschool embraces mixed-age classrooms. Younger children learn from older peers, and older children reinforce their understanding by teaching concepts to younger classmates. This fosters a sense of community, collaboration, and empathy among the children.
Related Article: 5 Benefits of a Multi-Age Classroom
Individualized Learning Path
Montessori education emphasizes recognizing and respecting each child's unique learning style. At The French Académie, teachers observe and understand the individual needs and interests of each child. This information guides the creation of personalized learning plans, ensuring that every child receives tailored support and challenges based on their developmental stage.
Practical Life Skills
The Montessori approach places a significant emphasis on practical life skills. Our early learning school integrates everyday activities into the curriculum, teaching children essential skills like pouring, washing hands, and cleaning up after themselves. These activities not only foster independence but also contribute to the development of fine and gross motor skills.
Pouring, transferring, screwing, unscrewing, and stringing beads develop hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and control of movement. Yes, again and again! These are some of the skills we work on when we do our “vie pratique” activities.
Freedom within Limits
While The French Académie encourages freedom and exploration, it also establishes clear boundaries. This balance is a key Montessori principle, providing children with a sense of security and structure. Through this approach, children learn to make choices within a safe and supportive environment, developing self-discipline and responsibility.
Nature as an Extension of the Classroom
Montessori education values the connection between children and the natural world. In our preschool, outdoor spaces are considered an extension of the classroom. Children engage in nature-based activities, fostering a love for the environment and an understanding of their role in preserving it.
This concept blends well with the Reggio Emilia approach of incorporating natural materials into the learning space to provide sensorial explorations.
Related Article: The Benefits of Forest School in Early Childhood
The Prepared Environment
We utilize the Montessori prepared environment to provide an attractive and welcoming atmosphere conducive to learning. Our classrooms allow for free and comfortable movement and provide designated areas for specific activities each day.
With a prepared environment, children are able to see and rotate through materials as they like allowing for repetition as needed. Young children often seek and need repetition for their growth and development. They tend to use and reuse the same material many times, seeking comfort and building their confidence through mastery.
Grace & Courtesy
Children absorb lessons through observation, with their teachers serving as examples for expected behavior. If necessary, toddlers are gently guided toward more suitable activities based on their current state of mind. Educators demonstrate proper language for effective communication, establish boundaries, and assist children in comprehending and respecting them. Consistent use of polite expressions like "please," "sorry," and "thank you" are used consistently in the classroom.
Respect for the Whole Child
In essence, The French Académie embodies the Montessori philosophy by recognizing and respecting the whole child. We strive to nurture not only academic abilities but also social, emotional, and physical well-being. By providing a comprehensive and integrated educational experience, we aim to lay the foundation for lifelong learning and success.
These Montessori principles weave a narrative of holistic education. Through prepared environments, personalized learning, and a commitment to nurturing the whole child, we aspire to create a foundation for a lifetime of exploration, discovery, and joy in learning.
Ready to visit The French Académie of Minnetonka to learn more about our Montessori inspired curriculum?
Our students not only benefit from the priceless gift of the French language, but also weekly forest school, Montessori activities and practical life skills, Reggio Emilia creative project explorations, steam and cultural learning in our on-site learning kitchen, and musical engagement that is built into our curriculum alongside weekly piano lessons offered to our preschool, pre-k, and kindergarten students.