There are many high-quality daycare centers throughout the Dallas-Ft.Worth area where creative daily programs are being implemented. The most significant difference between those programs and the Castle Montessori Schools is that Castle Montessori Schools follow a single, time-tested, proven philosophy of child development and education.
At Castle Montessori Schools the Montessori method is used as a complete and integrated approach to childhood education based on the life work of Dr. Maria Montessori. The Montessori method often causes confusion or misunderstanding among parents and the founders and faculty of Castle Montessori are on a mission to provide a clear understanding of Montessori education to parents.
Dr. Montessori possessed incredible insight, and her scientific observations of child development have proven accurate both over the years and around the globe. In keeping with her observations and insights, Castle Montessori programs nurture the true potential of each child in carefully prepared classrooms with a full complement of specialized learning materials which simply do not exist in most daycare settings. Parents seeking a Castle Montessori education for their child will quickly notice the schools offer an individualized program, geared to the child’s natural interests.
“Many daycares teach concepts in a group setting, using a teacher-driven model to determine which concepts will be taught. We however, espouse a very different approach. The Montessori method encourages the child to choose for himself which concepts he will explore, and provides materials to assist him in his individual exploration of those concepts,” said Varsha Patel, Castle Montessori Founder and Head of School.
All good centers provide opportunities for children to learn the rudimentary concepts of counting, colors and the letters of the alphabet. A Castle Montessori environment allows a child to discover the foundations of reading, writing and arithmetic, and so much more. A child at Castle Montessori is exposed to concepts of zoology, botany, geometry, geography, algebra, history, science, chemistry, biology, art appreciation and expression, and music, all at a level that is inviting, approachable and understandable to the young child. In addition to the academic opportunities in the Castle Montessori classroom, children are encouraged to participate in daily activities such as preparing food, washing dishes, mopping floors and dusting shelves. Children experience the self worth that comes from being a meaningful and contributing member of the classroom community.
Patel said the schools’ teachers or Guides, as they are called, observe and facilitate each child’s discoveries during their educational journey. Patel sees the program foster a deep sense of independence in children. This autonomy leads to intentional learning through use of the materials and social interactions with both adults and other children.
“By design our schools do more than care for young children until they are old enough for kindergarten. We have created a program that not only meets the physical and emotional needs of a young child, but is also specifically designed to meet the educational and social needs of the whole person during the formative years of childhood.”
Patel agrees with Dr. Montessori’s assessment of the value in providing an early education for children. “The most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to the age of six. For that is the time when man's intelligence itself, his greatest implement is being formed,” Montessori wrote.
According to Patel, respect is a very important part of a Castle Montessori education. The faculty and staff model respect in a number of ways. Respect for the child’s desire and capacity to learn is demonstrated by filling the room with beautiful and well maintained materials. Real, child-sized items are used in place of plastic replicas. The adults show respect to the children by treating them with kindness, while firmly expecting appropriate behavior. The children are given many opportunities to practice the skills necessary to show respect through caring for the room and the materials in it, and treating one another with kindness and respect.
“During the daily work time, a child may not become involved with another child or his work, unless she is invited to do so. Each child is free to work with any material (at her ability level and once it has been introduced by the teacher), but she must treat it carefully and return it to it’s proper place on the shelf ready for the next person when she is finished, ” Patel said.
Children have the opportunity to learn by working alone, in a small group, or by observing others as they work.
Patel is often asked by parents why a mixed-age group is an important part of the Montessori way. “The placement of children within a three-year age span is based on Maria Montessori’s observations of children. She observed that as they grow children move through specific planes of development, focusing on the acquisition of particular skills during each plane. These planes of development occur in three year increments. Placing children on the same plane of development in the same classroom allows several things to occur. The materials in the room and the specific training of the Guide are both designed to meet the needs of children on that plane as they move through the learning that will ultimately occur. The children in a three-year span form a community that provides sufficient diversity in knowledge and skills, but is close enough in age to foster an affinity for one another.
Younger children look to the older children as models of social courtesy, and someone other than the Guide to whom they can turn to for help with their work. The older children feel a sense of responsibility for the younger children, and solidify newly acquired skills when they help younger children just beginning to learn those skills.
In addition, Patel said the older children learn to be patient and tolerant of others, especially as the younger children learn accepted social behaviors. This also fosters leadership skills in the older children at such a young age.
“They are often so good at buffering hurt feelings or helping a new child become adjusted to school. Older children really love to share what they know with the younger ones, and by doing so reinforce their learning, and by watching the older children work, the young ones are challenged and look forward to their future work activities,” Patel said.
Patel said she is thrilled that parents and children have found each Castle Montessori School to be a beautiful landmark in their respective communities.
“While the beauty of our school buildings in themselves is certainly nice to enjoy and my husband Vikas and I spent countless hours in the design of the buildings, we are even more thrilled with the investment we have made in our teaching staff. Our teachers have earned their certification by passing rigorous exams and working under the tutelage of experts in the field. The AMI and AMS training programs are both year long programs, similar to a state teaching credential program. In addition to practicums on the presentation of the many specialized materials used in the Montessori classroom, student teachers are trained in child development, learning theory, and language acquisition. Before being certified as an AMS/AMI teacher, applicants must both observe and student-teach under a qualified Montessori Guide.”
In staffing each school, Patel has sought out teachers with more than just the right credentials and experience. Each teacher must have passion and commitment to the full development of each child.
Patel loves the fact that Castle Montessori teachers exhibit patience, a sense of humor, and a wide variety of interests which she believes give them a right perspective of their work and allow them to further supplement their student’s lives.
All Castle Montessori Schools have an open door policy with parents and encourage parent involvement. Visitors are welcomed for school tours daily with or without an appointment. You may also contact the schools directly at:
Castle Hills Montessori, Carrollton, TX: 972-492-5555
Castle Mound Montessori, Flower Mound, TX: 972-539-3333
Castle Montessori of Frisco, Frisco, TX: 972-377-2220
Castle Montessori of McKinney, McKinney, TX: 972-529-1222