Jamie’s background is in the Montessori model of education. She completed her Montessori Assistants to Infancy training in 2009, her Masters in Education from Loyola in 2011, and since then has been working in various types of classrooms. She strongly believes that children under the age of three learn best through direct contact with their environment and that it is of utmost importance the environments into which we place children from the very beginning are designed to facilitate optimal independent learning through exploration. It is for this reason that she has created Norwood Open School.
She agrees strongly with Montessori’s principle that the adult in the child’s environment is present to support and aid the child, but only as much as the child needs. Her goal at Norwood Open School is to offer an environment in which the child can become independent of adults. Although she feels firmly rooted in the concepts and practices of the Montessori method of education, her hope for the future is to remain open to new philosophies of learning, methods of teaching, and most of all, to the children and parents of this community. Her intention with this community is to create a place of respect for all life and an openness to learning and growth beyond her Montessori roots.
About the Assistant
Esme was born in Guadalajara, Mexico but has lived in Austin, TX since she was ten years old. She has been living in Knoxville, TN since 2017 and working at Norwood Open School as the Spanish speaking assistant since February 2018. When speaking to the children, Esme offers Spanish first and will follow up in English when necessary. This way, the children are hearing both English and Spanish in the environment on a daily basis and naturally learn two languages at the same time, just as they would if their parents were bilingual.
While she is new to the Montessori world, Esme is quick to learn and a natural with the children. She is looking forward to learning more about Montessori as she grows with the Norwood community.
The prepared environment is an important cornerstone of the Montessori philosophy. Montessori believed that by preparing a safe and stimulating place and allowing the children to move freely and act independently within that space, we provide children with opportunities to seek out their own routes of knowledge. The materials on the shelves at Norwood Open School, are designed to call out to various developmental needs of childhood and allow for active and independent repetition. The goal being that the children are so inspired by the environment to “work” that the guide has time each day to sit back and do her own work. The work of the guide is to observe the children in order to recognize his/her developmental needs. When a need is observed in a child, the guide is able to direct him/her to the material(s) that will help him/her fulfill this need.
At Norwood Open School, opportunities for problem solving and logical thinking as well as music and art will be available at all times throughout the day along with materials in the following areas:
The importance of language enrichment for the young child is beyond measure and every engagement with the child is an opportunity for a language lesson. Even before the child is capable of speech himself, he is taking in all the language happening in his environment with an unlimited capacity for absorption. Although there is a specific area for language where books, language objects and cards can be found, language will ultimately be happening at all times throughout your child’s day.
Psycho-Sensory Motor Development –
Control over one’s own body is a learned skill. It is something very young children can learn by simply having the freedom to move at their own will. It is also something learned through repetitive use of certain manipulative materials. A number of materials are present in the environment that allow children opportunities to practice and perfect large bodily movements as well as smaller, coordinated movements of the hand.
Practical Life –
This area of the classroom encompasses a broad spectrum of activities geared toward supporting children in their natural drive to be functioning members of a collective group as well as the desire to perform tasks independently. Practical life activities help give the child a sense of being and belonging, established through participation in daily life with us. This area is divided into three specific areas — care of self (washing hands, dressing, toilet independence, preparing food), care of others (grace and courtesy lessons, teaching and learning from peers), and care of the indoor and outdoor environments (washing, dusting, polishing, sweeping, watering, gardening, raking, setting the table, and folding laundry. Although these activities seem to serve a utilitarian purpose, they are done by the child to help adapt to society, satisfy innate tendencies and be a part of group life while also unconsciously perfecting movements, absorbing language and fostering self-discipline.