The classroom is bright and well-provisioned—an inviting environment for learning. The children take an active part in choosing their materials, picking a spot to work, getting organized, talking to one another, enthusiastically working, and moving confidently about the room. How quickly it becomes their room -- important, respected, loved.
Children continue refining their movements, improving their skills and gaining self confidence. They practice pouring juice, sewing a button, serving a snack or hammering a nail in Practical Life. They want to be valued, members of their classroom, school, and home life.
Tidewater begins with a respect for children as unique individuals. The Montessori approach to education is designed to recognize and address different learning styles, allowing children to move ahead as quickly as he or she is ready. They learn through hands-on experience, investigation, and research.
These children experiment, observe, document, measure, read, write, touch and explore to find real answers to their questions. They experience learning in an environment that affirms their natural inclination to be social. They learn to collaborate and work together in learning and on major projects. They are valued participants in our community of learning for life.
Our curriculum is carefully structured and integrated to demonstrate the connections among the different subject areas. We encourage critical thinking, problem solving, composition and research. Lessons link architecture, the arts, social studies, science and technology. Our goal is for each child to be intrinsically motivated—joyfully making personal discoveries, learning how to learn, and bringing LIFE to learning!
Our Aim: Tidewater’s Full-day Primary aims to keep alive and growing each child’s intrinsic curiosity and enthusiasm for learning. We support balanced social and academic skill development and foster community-minded, compassionate, and intrinsically motivated students.
Our Image of the Child: We see children as resourceful, self-motivated learners, whose abilities are unfolding on their own unique timetables. We know they will become their best selves in an environment which is closely responsive to their interests and talents.
The Role of the Teacher: The teacher designs the look and feel of the room, presents individual lessons, observes the child, acts as conflict mediator and wise guide, creates materials and curriculum, writes reports, and confers with parents.
How the Classroom Looks. Tidewater acknowledges that learning is based in social interaction, so our rooms and class sizes are small. We encourage children’s natural inclination to learn through and with peers. Teamwork is encouraged. While our room’s environment is similar to our Half-day Primary, children moving to Full-day Primary find a familiar, but expanding array of choices.
How We Create Curriculum. Contrary to the popular idea that curriculum can be boiled down to a few skills that are taught repeatedly, we see curriculum as a rich and vibrant process which can best be described as an interweaving of the teacher’s goals with the child’s drives and interests. Learning is usually structured as a discovery process in which children take an active role.
Wherever possible, we merge subject areas into daily activities to give children a seamless experience of the world, which matches their experience of life. Children interested in butterflies act out the life cycle in movement, theorize together about what goes on inside the chrysalis, and celebrate the emergence of a beautiful butterfly. Then they might paint or write about their observations. In this way, the skills of representing ideas through reading and writing are embedded in their exploration of the world, not isolated in separate skill sets which have little meaning for young children.
The research of Jean Piaget shows that telling is not teaching. Learning occurs when children integrate new information into previous mental constructs. They gain not only more information but also greater depth and breadth of knowledge. We embrace the complex task of teaching at the level of concept building, which is crucial in math and science.
In Full-day Primary, children continue on the Tidewater journey of refining their skills. Concrete learning moves toward abstraction and visual symbolization. To find answers to their questions, they experiment, measure, touch, explore, document, and write. And, with encouragement and affirmation, each of them grows not only in knowledge, but in self-confidence and love for learning itself.
The class meets from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. each day. On selected days, children receive instruction from Music and Spanish teachers.
Why We Value Play. While some view play as mere recreation and nothing more, we understand that play is an energetic, self-motivated form of learning used by all human beings throughout life. Children’s play has a central place in their social, emotional, and cognitive learning. Rather than relegate it to recess, we draw on its strengths within our program.
We are fortunate to have a rich natural environment right behind the school. As children’s lives become more indoor-centered, we believe they have a right to the outdoor world -- not as recess from academic pressures but as an integral part of their day. We take advantage of opportunities to build curriculum around nature study. Self-directed outdoor recreation has been shown to enhance brain development, so time for imaginative play is built into every day’s schedule.
How Children Are Challenged. The level of challenge that invites or discourages participation is highly individual. Classrooms provide many open-ended materials, which children can take to the next level once they’re ready. The teacher provides challenges through new materials, and by posing thought-provoking problems. Success is important since it is the basis of self-confidence from which new efforts are launched. Unhampered by the fear of failure, children achieve their full potential with a capacity for realistic self-appraisal.
How We Work with Children’s Behavior. Living in a community requires constant negotiation of group and individual needs. We view social and emotional learning as integral to the healthy child, not a distraction from more important subjects. Learning to resolve conflicts requires that there be some to resolve. These inevitable conflicts provide necessary learning opportunities. We help children adopt positive behaviors through modeling, developing rules, coaching, and other strategies. We believe autonomy is the aim of education and strive to help children become capable of living and working together without becoming blind conformists.