The following text includes excerpts from the American Montessori Society and “Child of the World” from The Michael Olaf Company.
The Bowman Student
Bowman students take responsibility for their own education and in the process gain confidence, adaptability, and a foundation for personal and academic success.
Individualized, Self-Directed Learning
“Follow the child.”
The Bowman program is an impressive example of the principles of Montessori elementary education at work for your child. At Bowman, self-directed and individualized learning forms the core of the educational experience. Based on years of educational research, we believe that children can and must learn to accept responsibility, develop independence, and make decisions that help manage their own learning. Working individually with their teachers, all Bowman students help plan their daily and weekly goals. They supplement their core academics with materials and topics of their own interest. They also participate in evaluating and communicating their own educational progress.
Because each child brings a unique mix of strengths and weaknesses, children often progress at different rates in different academic areas. To support and respect each individual’s development, the children at Bowman who can move faster in a subject area move ahead freely and are not held to the pace of slower students or the limitations of a grade-structured curriculum. Children who need more time and attention on a subject, are provided the resources they need to succeed.
Through their years at Bowman, our students acquire strong, traditional academic skills, yet also:
- Maintain their love for learning, creativity, and discovery
- Develop a sense of responsibility and self-confidence about themselves and the world
- Build a strong foundation for life-long decision making, problem solving, and critical thinking
- Become well-rounded and socially adept individuals
Hands-On Exploration, Prepared Environment
“Never give to the brain more than we give to the hand.”
Montessori education is predicated upon the basic human urge to explore. The classroom, materials, and social climate must be supportive of the learner. Bowman classrooms are carefully prepared learning labs that facilitate student exploration and hands-on use of tools and materials. Many of the materials are Montessori-based and have been designed with distinct educational goals in mind.
“Continuity is key to learning.”
Unlike most schools where teachers spend only one academic year with their students, teachers at Bowman spend multiple years with each student in their multi-age classrooms. This enables the teachers to know each child better: to genuinely understand, nurture, and appreciate each child’s unique personality, learning style, and needs. Classes at Bowman are organized into two- or three-year age groupings:
- The Junior Level – students aged 5–6
- Lower Elementary – students aged 6–9
- Upper Elementary – students aged 9–12
- Middle School – students aged 12–15
In our classrooms, younger children are encouraged to learn new skills by watching older children. Older children, in turn, benefit from peer teaching, helping the young and providing leadership and guidance. Through multi-age classes, students are provided with never-ending opportunities for broad social development and deep friendships. Interacting with children of different ages and abilities helps every Bowman student develop tolerance and appreciation for individual differences and provides many different options for small group learning.
“To refrain from interference requires both training and patience.”
The Montessori approach to teaching is both extremely challenging and extraordinarily exciting and rewarding. Our teachers bring a broad range of skills and interests to their teaching. Many have advanced degrees, and all have an interest and knowledge in teaching self-directed students in an international context. Although Bowman uses specialist teachers for foreign language instruction, for some arts and some types of special projects, the highly integrated nature of the Bowman academic program relies on Montessori-certified teachers who can relate one curriculum area to another to help the children understand the big picture. Therefore, at Bowman, Montessori-certified teachers are responsible for all classroom instruction.
A teacher who is not trained in Montessori methods and philosophy can no more be expected to teach in a Montessori setting than a biologist could be expected to teach French. Extensive training (a minimum of a full year following the Bachelor’s degree) is required for a full AMS credential, including a year’s student teaching under qualified supervision. Any teacher at Bowman still in the process of receiving Montessori training is paired with a more experienced, Montessori-certified teacher.
Bowman is committed to maintaining a low student-to-teacher ratio in its classrooms during the core school day.
Essential Qualities: Respect, Responsibility, Independence
“Children thrive on trust.”
The Bowman program embodies core Montessori beliefs of respect for people and for the environment. We believe that creativity flourishes in an atmosphere of freedom, acceptance, and trust. Montessori called freedom “the key to the process of development.” Freedom does not mean doing whatever we want. In order for children to build such self-discipline, adults must be firm, fair, and consistent in setting limits.
The lunchtime experience is a prime example of how respect is woven into each Bowman day. Lunches are a civilized affair. Tables are set with placemats, napkins, and silverware. A lunch chairperson is appointed at each table and is responsible for setting the tone for the meal. No one eats until “Bon Appétit” has been said, and no one leaves the table until all are finished. Students clean up after themselves. It’s no surprise that manners are often noted as one of the most impressive traits of a Bowman student.
Life and Learning Skills: Self Direction, Critical Thinking, Time Management
“Every unnecessary help is really a hindrance to development.”
Students have the opportunity to plan, coordinate, and accomplish tasks in their daily lives at Bowman that contribute to the development of critical life and learning skills, including responsibility, a sense of control, organization, management, decision making, problem solving, and critical thinking. Although these skills are encouraged in all academic activities, they are most meaningful to the children in their immediate day-to-day context. Bowman students maintain their classroom environment, take responsibility for classroom pets and plants, plant and maintain their garden, and are responsible for solving interpersonal and classroom issues.
“Mom, we dissected a fish!” (Bowman Junior)
The developmentally-based curriculum at Bowman provides a rigorous yet individualized program for each child. Bowman students engage in the following curriculum areas through a variety of learning activities tailored to their needs and interests:
- Individual study and research
- One-on-one work with teachers and older students
- Small group projects, teams, and games
- Whole group discussions and presentations
- Community service
- Special presentations and workshops by visiting artists and performers
- Field trips and other out-of-class activities such as library visits and the annual school camping trip