Casa di Mir’s educators are well-instructed in the developmental stages of children. While our students are engaged in Distance Learning, their development remains a critical focus and top priority. Casa guides maintain a connection with their students in between lessons and academic instruction. This connection is critical since most of the delivery of information is done directly by the guides, with their own inflection, their energy, and their passion – a very important component in a Montessori education. Our approach to Distance Learning is essential as we embrace the need for flexibility and preparedness; we will need to be both flexible and prepared to enable our community to shift smoothly between on-site learning and Distance Learning programs as the current situation evolves.
In a non-Montessori Distance Learning setting, it is possible to design a schedule that delivers a programmed curriculum, where you just follow along in a sort of computerized system that is devoid of the most important Montessori elements. At Casa di Mir, the development of the whole child is a driving force in the planning stage. We include lessons where students need to use materials, which allows them to continue their hands-on experience. Our youngest children need to keep developing their sensorial life; they can’t only be touching the screens and living life by their two fingertips. We are tailoring their digital learning to encourage sensorial experiences. These experiences help the children wire up their brains to support their future frontal lobe thinking and help to develop the kind of neurological connections they will need for a higher-order of thinking. All children need to use their hands, and that kind of motor function is very closely related to the area of the brain where language development occurs. In our program, we are requesting work to be done by hand when possible, photographed, and uploaded to Google Classroom. We do not want to wed our children to the keyboard.
The language that our guides share with their students during Distance Learning is meant to create consistency. We are still focused on practicing mindfulness, our choice of words, and being respectful. Consistency in relationships is the foundation of stability. We are continuing to build values of respect, courtesy, and kindness. Our students have a pretty strong sense of what Casa’s core values are, and we continue to uphold those values during Distance Learning. While we are online, we are looking for new self-regulation opportunities. If our students need a break from Zoom, they can excuse themselves from a lesson, and they can go get a glass of water or do something physical like jumping rope. After their break, they can come back to the lesson feeling refreshed. Reflectiveness, mindfulness, and self-regulation are a very high priority when we are learning on-site, and they continue to be a very high priority while we learn off-site.
At Casa, we believe that challenging situations are opportunities for growth. Our mindsets are currently being challenged. We want to encourage our community to create mindsets that say I can, or I will learn, instead of a negative thinking mindset that says “we can’t grow.” By helping our students develop a positive mindset, a sense of independence, empathy, and love of learning, we are setting them up for success in the classroom and in life.
Director of Education
Casa di Mir Montessori