Princeton Montessori Students Thrive While Learning Remotely During Pandemic
Press Release – Like many other schools in the community, Princeton Montessori School (PMONTS), located on Cherry Valley Road in Montgomery, abruptly transitioned to remote learning in early March due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Montessori approach typically involves hands-on learning and encourages independence and intrinsic motivation from an early age. After conducting a parent survey, PMONTS families have reported a high level of success and satisfaction with the new online learning environment, largely because Montessori students are already accustomed to self-driven, independent work.
“Montessori has always been progressive,” said Michelle Morrison, Head of Princeton Montessori School. “Now that we are operating remotely, we can be leaders in creating home environments and student experiences that are responsive, stimulating, holistic, and community-based.”
Montessori is known for offering personalized education, multi-age learning, and a balanced day with time for real world skills and playing outdoors. Students of all ages remain actively engaged in their academic learning and look forward to daily remote lessons, in addition to choosing work from a variety of well-rounded, age-appropriate activities. Montessori soft skills work particularly well in the home environment, where Toddlers can contribute to their household by helping to load the dishwasher, for example, while Elementary and Middle School students can exercise their independence by cooking dinner for their families.
“Hands-on learning, independence, and practical life skills were apparent when my daughter was doing her math homework this week,” said Cindy Betz, a Montgomery resident and mother of two PMONTS elementary students. “She was making dough triangles for math class, cutting them in different ways to create Equilateral, Isosceles and Scalene triangles. After she was done, she turned them into pizza slices and ate them for lunch.”
Despite the physical distance during the remote learning period, the school’s sense of community endures with a high level of digital engagement and personalized attention. Students as young as eighteen months meet daily with their teachers and classmates via Zoom, an online meeting platform, to continue with group lessons and to see friends. Teachers also use Zoom to meet with each student and family at least once a week. Outside of online meetings, the students’ remote learning schedules deliberately allow for flexibility, freedom of choice during the day, and plenty of time to play outside or go on nature walks.
“Learning is a natural drive in children and there are many new things they are learning with this current at-home model,” said Amy Gerstacker, Coordinator of the Primary Program (ages 3-6) at Princeton Montessori School. “Children are resilient and learning is natural; it occurs in all places, spaces, and situations.”
In addition to real-time learning, the school’s faculty and staff created a library of on-demand personalized digital resources to supplement lesson plans, including videos of the teachers reading books, giving Spanish lessons, and conducting virtual music classes. The school is also continuing to host remote after-school programs, clubs, and individual student music lessons. PMONTS’ Emmy Award-winning music teacher Alex Mitnick is even hosting a weekly, live Facebook sing-along to unite the community and bring joy during these unprecedented times.
Princeton Montessori School, founded in 1968, is an independent, coeducational day school dedicated to the highest quality education of children, from infancy through middle school, according to the values and principles of the Montessori philosophy. The school is accredited at the highest level by the American Montessori Society (AMS), a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), and an authorized International Baccalaureate (IB) World School for the Middle Years Programme (MYP).