“Preparing Today’s Children to LEAP into Tomorrow’s Future.”
“LEAP” is kind of a funny name. Where does it come from?
L-E-A-P is acronym for “Leaders Exploring Aspiring Promise”. The name was thought up by Ms. Griffin when she was young and then later in college with a friend while they were thinking of fun ways to help children in their community. The name stuck and we love it!
What does “Authentic Montessori” mean?
There are a couple myths that should be cleared up. Not all schools that claim to be “Montessori” are the same. There is not a patent on the name “Montessori”. This essentially means that anyone can open up a school and claim to be “Montessori” and the reality is that the owners or teachers might have read a book. The truth is that 70% of the schools in North America that claim to be “Montessori” are not accredited and do not have Montessori trained teachers. The school might be very well intentioned and might be a good school, but the requirements for an actual Montessori are clear according to the Association of Montessori Internationale (AMI); the organization whose mission it is to preserve Maria and Mario Montessori’s work:
*All Teachers must be AMI Montessori trained for the ages/ classrooms they are teaching
*All Classrooms must be fully equipped
*Montessori Materials MUST come from an approved manufacturer:
-Gonzagarredi (LEAP’s Preferred)
*There must be a 3 hour uninterrupted morning work cycle and a 2 hour afternoon uninterrupted work cycle
The curriculum also extremely important and while LEAP chooses to add to the original curriculum with the languages, cultural physical education, and purposeful formal studying of the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico, all of the other curriculum is considered as a baseline which all authentic Montessori schools will teach from. While adding to the curriculum (within reason) is perfectly fine, it is not acceptable to simply ignore or not teach entire sections (geometry and biology are often overlooked). Please feel free to look at our curriculum when reviewing other schools.
How many AMI teachers do you have?
Currently we have 2 AMI trained teachers, 1 Primary and 1 Primary/ Elementary Trained. Our Toddler Teacher is in the process of obtaining her AMI 0-3 (Assistant to Infancy) training. We are excited about expanding the school, but only as we are able to find and hire qualified (AMI) teachers who are kind, compassionate, and share our love of Peace Education.
How many children are in the school?
Right now we have room for 76 children in the school. Because the emphasis in Montessori is that the children learn from one another and in a community, AMI recommends the following ratios:
*Toddler (Ages 18 months-3): 1:6 Ratio
*Primary (Ages 3-6): 24-35 Children per Classroom
*Elementary (Ages 6-12): 24-35 Children per Classroom
LEAP will not go beyond these guidelines.
Did I miss the photos of the classroom communities/environments?
Photos are coming! Please check back to the “Gallery” page often for regular postings of Montessori children and schools around the world. Parents of students in the school will have a password to see regular postings of the classrooms after August 13. If you are looking for pictures now, please visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/LEAPInternationalMontessoriSchool.
Tell me about the foreign languages. How many are there?
Currently we have made Montessori materials, native-speaking staff, and Rosetta Stone access subscriptions for 8 different languages. The foreign language program was created by Ms. Griffin and Mrs. Bojorquez from their love of peace studies and understanding cultures and people. The intent of this curriculum is based around understanding and being understood in a wide variety of cultures.
The idea started with first, Spanish and Mandarin and grew into incorporating the Romance languages of: French, Italian, and Portuguese to be taught on a 3 year-rotating cycle. American Sign Language followed soon after. We are extremely excited that we’re now going to be able to offer Arabic and Hebrew. We are currently looking into adding Hungarian and Russian.
The intent of the program is not necessarily to have all students fluent in all languages (though this is certainly a possibility), but more about becoming aware of various communication and cultures. We believe that one of the best ways to truly understand another person is to be able to communicate with them. The best way to do this is to experience the other person’s language. We believe that this helps to cultivate compassion and empathy with our students and the community at large.
All languages are taught in conjunction with a physical activity from a culture that speaks the language. This does several things:
*The students are physically immersed in a natural situation for them to be experience the language.
*The students are exposed to a variety of fun, physical experiences that they enjoy.
*The students will have regular physical activity that is good for their growing bodies.
How do you fit the foreign language and physical cultural program around the uninterrupted two and three-hour work cycle?
The languages and physical activities fit easily around the uninterrupted three-hour morning work cycle and two hour afternoon work cycle because we do not interrupt them. In the afternoons, the Montessori classroom curriculum ends at 3:00pm. The physical activities are then from 3:00-4:00pm.
For the languages, just as the students are free to choose their own work from the shelves, we have simply translated all of the written work into the languages that we offer. The students receive the concept languages in English (usually their native language) and may then choose to follow-up for it in whichever language they wish. Specific language immersion lessons are also done in correlation with the Montessori lessons the students have already been given. This experience is then a reminder of the original concept lesson but done purely as an experiential vocabulary lesson.
Of course, we also use the loved 3-period lesson for foreign language vocabulary, just as we do for expanding vocabulary in English. Songs and musical instruments can also be enjoyed in any language and are a normal part of the Montessori classroom.
Are specialists allowed to come on campus and interrupt the three hour work cycles?
Although we do have specialists in languages who are also physical cultural teachers on campus, this is not done during the normal Montessori classroom day. We are proud to offer these fun introduction programs as a part of our school tuition. If students and families are interested in studying more, we will also have classrooms and space available afterschool for additional fees.
Are the communities’ three hour work cycles interrupted by field trips?
Though not common, yes, when/ if the entire class goes on a field trip, that day’s work cycle would be interrupted. This is a rare occurrence though and might happen only once or twice per semester.
What is more common is the traditional Montessori “Goings Out” program in the elementary. This is only a few students at a time (usually between 2-6 students) that are following up on a lesson or project they have been working on in class. This might also include the natural maintenance of the classroom (such as going to the store to buy pet food) or as research extentions of their work in class (such as to museums or gardens). Because this is a normal part of the curriculum, we would not consider this to be an interruption to their work cycle.