What is Puddletown School?

Puddletown School is a Montessori school, whose lead guides all have AMI diplomas, including three primary classrooms for children between the ages of 3 and 6, an elementary classroom for children ages 6 to 12, and a middle school for 12-14 year olds. We are dedicated to providing a loving, nurturing environment to aid in the self­ development of the whole child. Half and full day schedules are available, as well as early care, aftercare, and camps during school breaks.

What are the advantages of mixed age Montessori classes?

Having different ages in the classroom brings with it a wide range of benefits. Cooperation and tutoring between age groups increase achievement and self­esteem in both older and younger children. Students are able to reinforce their skills and knowledge as they learn from each other, building confidence and responsibility. Older children learn leadership skills and empathy by engaging with the younger children, and younger children learn from the older children’s example, creating excitement for the future. There is an added advantage in that students and teachers (guides) can enjoy the experience of being together for more than one year.

How do teachers (guides) deal with discipline?

Conflicts arise naturally out of interactions between different people. We teach conflict resolution throughout the year to give children ways of solving problems themselves. In this way, children are given tools for dealing with conflicts before they happen. This helps avoid discipline problems that come from not knowing how to work through arguments peacefully. We give children the skills to create a balance between freedom and responsibilities that teach them to respect themselves, others, the classroom, and the materials. With these skills, children begin the lifelong process of learning to respect others’ opinions and to search for solutions to conflicts.

What is the student/teacher ratio in the preschool-kindergarten classroom?

The student/teacher ratio is 10 to 1. Our walking field trips maintain a ratio of 6 to 1. Class size is designed to be large enough to foster independence, but small enough to allow for appropriate guidance and supervision.

Do Montessori students have too much freedom?

Children choose their own work within guidelines set by the teacher. This framework offers a great deal of freedom, but each freedom has a corresponding responsibility.

Does Puddletown provide lunch?

No. A healthy lunch should be sent with the child daily. We encourage parents to involve the child in the process of shopping, preparing, and packing a healthy meal void of sugary food. All containers should be easily opened and closed by the child. Try the containers out together at home. For primary children, Puddletown provides snacks that are available throughout the day.

Elementary and Middle School students bring their own snack packed with lunch. Snack is provided for children in our Aftercare program. It is a good idea to check in with your child about lunch and ask if they are getting too much or not enough food.

What does “Montessori” mean?

The Montessori method is named for Dr. Maria Montessori, who devoted her life to the observation and study of children. Montessori is a comprehensive approach to education from birth to adulthood. Beginning her work over a century ago, Dr. Montessori developed her approach through the observation of children from many cultures and economic backgrounds. It succeeds because it draws its principles from the natural development of the child. The inherent flexibility of the method allows it to be adapted to the needs of the individual, regardless of ability, learning style or social maturity. Dr. Montessori believed the needs, talents, gifts, and special individuality of each child were important as a developmental guide.

Using this approach she created “prepared environments” for multi­age groups (0-­3, 3-­6, 6­-9, 9­-12, and 12-­14). The environments contain specifically designed materials for development that invite children to engage in learning activities of their own choice. Under the guidance of a trained teacher (guide), children in a Montessori classroom learn by making discoveries with the materials, cultivating concentration, motivation, self­ discipline, and a love of learning.

Montessori is a hands ­on approach to learning that encompasses the use of the five senses, kinetic movement, spatial refinement, and small and large motor skill coordination. With this concrete knowledge, children find their own way to an understanding of concepts. This is combined with a deep love and need for purposeful work. The Montessori method emphasizes self­ reliance and independence in the classroom and at home by teaching children the skills to do as much for themselves as they are capable of. The trained teacher (guide) is an artful organizer of experiences for the child to discover, process and practice. Constant and ongoing observation by the guide is one of the foundations of the Montessori program.

The Montessori preschool and kindergarten environment
is designed to stimulate exploration of each child’s interests. She developed a curriculum focusing on math, language, sensory exploration, art, music, and practical life skills. Abstract ideas are introduced as a hands-on exploration. Gradually this leads the child to a self- discovery of the concept. In the classroom, lessons are given individually on isolated aspects of an abstract idea that children put together on their own to form a cohesive whole. In this way each learned skill or lesson becomes a building block for the next, helping the child to experience success.

The second plane of development Maria Montessori noted includes ages six through twelve. Just as for three-to six-year-old children, there are work choices, movement with purpose, and freedom within limits. The lessons at the elementary level are given in group settings, as the social aspect of learning is becoming more and more important. The elementary structure integrates personal choice as well, where children learn to manage their time, while also managing and prioritizing their work. Each child keeps a daily record and uses this to plan their own education. Ultimately, this structure is a preparation for life. Montessori wrote, “the elementary child has reached a new level of development. Before she was interested in things: working with her hands, learning their names. Now she is interested mainly in the how and why; the problem of cause and effect.”

The job of the elementary guide is to show the world’s interconnectedness and create a class that allows children to discover it for themselves. The Montessori classroom offers children opportunities to learn, develop, and succeed in a nurturing, enriching, and appropriate learning environment. The second plane child begins to explore ideals and the struggle of conflicting interests. The elementary class compares the history that brought us here and what we want the future to be. The imagination is given new possibilities and gives inspiration for learning. This is a time for seeing the world as they would have it be and find a way to be a part of it.

Adolescence is the third plane, present around ages twelve to eighteen. Montessori middle schools focus on the first half of this period, ages twelve to fifteen or 7-8th grade. Social connections become even more critical a this time and young people begin to exhibit a strong desire to remain independent from adults. It is the Montessori guide’s job to find ways to allow youth to experiment with independence within a safe structure and facilitate ways for learners to refine their own personal moral compasses, develop a stronger sense of responsibility, and contribute to more and more of the planning and decision making within the learning environment. Mutual aid, connections with nature, and engaging and vigorous interaction with the arts, humanities and sciences/STEM make this program enriching, memorable, and validating.

Why should I send my child to preschool?

Most educators and psychologists today agree that the single most important period in the development of a person’s intelligence is between birth and age five. A child’s mind is extremely absorbent and curiosity is at a peak during these early years. When properly nourished and stimulated, the child’s mind forms patterns for learning that serve them well throughout life.

What do the classrooms look like?

The preschool-kindergarten classroom is a child­-sized world. By careful selection of materials, the classroom allows the child a place to explore life on a level they can understand. The materials or exercises are designed to stimulate independent explorations. The environment entices the child to proceed at their own pace from simple activities to more complex ones. Through this process, the child’s natural curiosity is satisfied and they begin to experience the joy in discovering the world around them. The children’s environment includes both the inside classroom and the “Outdoor Classroom.”

The elementary classroom is designed to nurture imagination and reason. There are large tables and open areas for children to work collaboratively on big group projects. They are filled with materials such as musical instruments, bones, maps, charts and art supplies that aid in the child’s spontaneous exploration and research of many subjects. The materials are carefully selected and encourage collaborative work. There are many resources available for research and independent study. Children are encouraged to follow their interests and take initiative to go out into the community to learn more. The classroom stimulates discovery and deep thinking. The elementary classrooms have pets that the children learn to feed and care for.

In middle school, the students use the classroom as a home base, while regularly going out into the community and into nature to accomplish specific goals.

What is a typical day in the classroom?

Preschool-kindergarten children (ages 3-6) come into the school, greet the guides, wash hands, hang up coats, and begin their day. Children move about the classroom from activity to activity, using a small rug for work on the floor or sitting at a table. They may be talking or working with a friend, choosing to work alone, or sitting back to observe if they wish. During the course of the day each child chooses materials of interest, may receive lessons from the guide on a new material, share snack with a friend, etc. Throughout the morning the children may gather to hear a story read aloud, share news, sing songs, recite poems, or work on group projects. Part of each day is spent outside. At the end of the morning the children help set up lunch. Half of the children are seated together for lunch while the other half play outside, getting to see friends from other classrooms. Then, the groups exchange places as the remaining children eat and the other half go outside.  Families signed up for a half-day schedule will pick their children up at 1pm from the playground. Full-day (“extended day”) children come inside after lunch and enjoy an afternoon that is very similar to the morning. Children who nap or rest will have an opportunity to do so.

Elementary learners (ages 6-12) start the day by greeting the adults and children in the classroom. They spend time writing in their journal and planning the day, being sure to vary the subjects and experiences each day and follow up on unfinished projects. Large and small group lessons as well as individual lessons are taking place through out the morning. The elementary classroom is lively and social and busy. Each day children eat lunch and spend some time playing outside. They have a read aloud time and a time to have snack. Weekly elementary children have PE, a meeting with their teacher, and circle of friends (a democratic conflict resolution meeting).

For children who participate in early care, after care, or camps, the routine is much the same.


What is the role of the Montessori teacher (guide)?

Guides encourage, redirect, and supervise as the child learns through their own personal motivation. They plan the environment in the interests of the children, and help children progress from one activity to the next. The guides track each child’s development to create a lesson plan that meet each child’s needs. We use the word “guide” in Montessori since the children teach each other and themselves and the adult is there to guide them towards their best/authentic selves.

Why do you recommend a five-day experience for preschool-kindergarten?

A child who attends school for five consecutive days each week will have a greater opportunity for smooth, spontaneous learning. A child taken in and out of school frequently does not have the same opportunity and consistency to pursue their unfolding interests. A child’s sense of community, comfort, and routine is bolstered by regular attendance.

What about socialization and group work?

In the preschool-kindergarten classrooms, children interact continuously, sometimes choosing to work on projects together, and older children often help younger ones. Children also eat snack and lunch in groups. Each day there are group activities and outside play. As children get older, and naturally more social, the work provided is more group oriented.

In the elementary classroom there is constant socialization and group work.  Children ages 6-12 are natural collaborators and the classroom and curriculum is designed to meet that need.

In middle school, social connections become even more critical. It is the Montessori adolescent guide’s job to find ways to allow youth to experiment with independence within a safe structure and facilitate ways for learners to refine their own moral compasses, develop a stronger sense of responsibility, and contribute more to the planning and decision making within the learning environment.