Related: I am not religious, can my child still register to ACMS?
All children are welcome at ACMS! We do not discriminate based on religion, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, ability, or family background.
Religious education is important for the holistic development of a child because it intentionally addresses spiritual, mental, and emotional well-being. The Christian education at ACMS includes daily Bible stories, Christian praise songs, weekly memory verses, and prayer throughout the day. It is our hope that through these avenues, we can help children experience God in their daily lives through hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
There are also many additional benefits to having Christian education. Biblical stories have many real-world applications that make cross-curricular connections. By learning about God, children have a healthier understanding of morality, self-esteem, and authority. They also become aware of how they treat themselves and others. By teaching about perseverance, leadership, and character, children can develop intrinsic motivation and an attitude of thankfulness.
The Montessori Method is an educational philosophy developed by medical doctor Maria Montessori (1870-1952) from Italy. In her time, students were forced to sit at desks for hours while teachers dictated information. Children who were unable to succeed in this environment were considered ‘phrenasthenic’ and therefore unteachable. In today’s educational terms, we might say they had ‘special needs’ or ‘exceptionalities.’ Rather than discriminate against these children, Montessori accepted, observed, and interacted with them, and discovered their natural desire and curiosity for learning. Over time, she developed an educational method that benefited all children, including the ones that succeeded in the old method of teaching as well. Her approach was scientific; it considered the development of a child’s brain and body. For this reason, her method has succeeded around the world today.
Montessori discovered that young children are constantly learning by absorbing the information in their environment. So she created a loving school environment – the Casa dei Bambini (Children’s House) – for children ages 2 to 6. Children had the freedom to move around the classroom and choose what to learn from Montessori’s original curriculum including: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Mathematics, and Science and Culture. The children became surprisingly less motivated by treats and rewards as they developed an intrinsic appreciation for their individual successes and self-discipline. Montessori championed for holistic, child-centered education while her contemporaries were still relying on rote memorization.
What sets apart the Montessori Method? The materials and environment are carefully designed to be beautiful and attractive to the child. Each activity isolates a particular set of skills that a child can practice and perfect, while simultaneously minimizing confusion or frustration. The activities also include a mechanism called a ‘control of error,’ that allows a child to independently become aware of their mistakes and fix them without feeling discouraged. The teacher is a gentle directress that guides the child to interact with the environment. With such intelligent design, children are inspired to have a life-long love for learning.
Related: Will my older child be stuck learning the same things every year? Will my younger child be confused by the lessons?
We model our multi-aged classrooms after Dr. Maria Montessori’s original example in the Casa dei Bambini (Children’s House). Because children are constantly observing their classmates and learning by absorbing from their environment, diversity in the classroom enriches the entire educational experience. Younger children become encouraged to try new, more difficult activities, because they see others attempting these challenges. Older children practice leadership skills by becoming role models. When children have meaningful conversations with peers about what they are learning, they develop metacognitive skills that help them decide what they want to learn next. There are also many opportunities for children to teach one another, which is an excellent way to deepen and consolidate their learning!
In the Montessori Method, the teacher-directress follows a child’s unique developmental readiness. Children grow through ‘sensitive periods’ where they show an intense affinity or interest in a specific area. The teacher-directress provides opportunities for learning through inquiry and exploration. There is no limit set on how much the child can learn; rather, the child shows us when s/he is satisfied and wants to move on to something new. Therefore, (older) children can always learn more, and (younger) children are never forced to take more than they can handle.
Many schools choose to divide their classrooms according to age/grade, and only one curriculum is presented to the entire class. Children are assessed based on how well they understand the standard curriculum level. The kids that are successful are sometimes discouraged by teachers that say, “Wait until the next grade. You don’t need to learn this now.” On the other hand, children that are struggling are discouraged because they feel ‘behind’ everyone else. In ACMS, there is no competition, and diversity is celebrated because children appreciate each other’s efforts and successes.
How does ACMS accommodate for children with exceptionalities (‘special needs’ including giftedness)?
We treat each child with love and equity because Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them…” (Matthew 19:14 NIV). In the event that a child shows the need for special support, ACMS teachers will remove hindrances to the child’s learning by creating an Individualized Support Plan (ISP). The ISP is created in consultation with the child’s parent/guardian and any necessary specialists in order to provide the child with the most informed support possible. Supporting children with special needs is also in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code, which requires that educators accommodate for students with special needs in a dignified and appropriate way so that every student has equal opportunity to education (Ontario Human Rights Commission, s. 4(1)). We put our every effort into finding the best support we can give that is suitable to the child’s individual needs.
Children love to collect treasures! Sometimes they may bring back classroom materials in their pockets. If you find these items (e.g. a tiny pink tower piece, a knob from a puzzle, or a golden unit bead), please return them to the teacher the next day.
Your child will bring many art projects home. Children often use art to express their inner emotional world. Ask your child to share it with you by explaining or describing it. You can always appreciate the creative decisions they made. Our goal is to encourage confidence by teaching children how to appreciate art and explore their creativity.
Every week, your child will also bring home some evidence of their Montessori work. You can ask what the activity involves, and consider the skills your child may need in order to complete the work: concentration, independence, patience, and fine-motor control. If you collect these over time, you will be able to observe your child’s improvement.
We encourage parents to have meaningful conversations with children about their school lives. We aim to create a partnership with parents because so much of a child’s education happens at home and outside of the classroom. Please feel free to ask us any questions you have about the Montessori activities or lesson plans. If your child has favourite activities, we can show you how to replicate them at home, or we may direct you to resources that can supplement your child’s learning in the classroom.
Related: When will my child be ready to begin toilet training?
Your child does not need to be toilet trained to register with our school. We have professionally trained teachers that will help your family walk through this exciting stage in your child’s growth.
At Agape, we choose a child-centered approach to toilet training. This means that rather than looking at your child’s age as the sole indicator, we create an environment where your child can show signs that they are ready to begin the process. We can also give you tips for how to create this environment at home. Toilet training involves physical, developmental, and behavioural components, so it is important to watch for these signals in your child.
Although every child is unique, here are some common indicators that your child may be physically, mentally, and emotionally ready to begin the process:
- can follow one- or two-step directions
- is able to pull their pants up and down
- shows interest in wearing underwear, or sitting on the toilet or training potty
- is able to recognize the regular toilet routine at home or at school
- is able to recognize when their diaper is wet
- shows using words or gestures that they need to go to the washroom
- is able to pee or poo by sitting on the toilet or training potty
At Agape, we value clear and regular communication with our parents. When your child begins to show these signs, we will work with you to create a toilet training plan for your child so that they can be successful.