Montessori Center School’s Four Cs
A Century-Plus of Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Creativity, and Communication
Before she became the head of Montessori Center School five years ago, Melanie Jacobs had more than 20 years of experience on-site, starting as a part-time assistant teacher right after college and moving up to earn her elementary and administrative credentials.
For more than 100 years, Montessori education has been integrating what its educators call “The Four Cs” (collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication) into early childhood and elementary education. Here, Jacobs explains what they mean.
Collaboration: “The ability to collaborate with others is a crucial skill for young people today,” Jacobs explained. “To work in collaboration with others means that you can listen to other perspectives and cohesively share your thoughts. It also means that you can work within a team, utilizing the strengths of those around you to meet goals and expectations.”
Montessori groups children in three-year age groupings: ages 3-6 (transitional K-K); ages 6-9 (1st-3rd); and ages 9-12 (4th-6th). “This allows students to act as leaders, serving as role models to the younger students academically and socially.”
Critical Thinking: “At its simplest,” Jacobs said, “critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally about the world around us by taking in information, analyzing it, and making decisions based on that information. To foster this in young children, it is necessary to allow them to be as independent as possible. Our Montessori environments are designed to allow as much independence as possible at every stage of development. Our teachers are trained to observe and give students time and space to think things through by not intervening too soon.
“As they grow and develop, they are guided in the scientific method, conducting experiments, creating hypotheses, and making judgments based on their observations. Montessori lessons are famous for their concrete representations of academic concepts, giving students a very clear idea of the why and how behind each idea.”
Creativity: “Montessori students are great at thinking out of the box, exploring various ways to solve problems creatively,” Jacobs continued. “Within each classroom, our students are urged to participate in discussions that explore their creativity and the sharing of ideas. Students are encouraged to keep an open mind and respect the ideas of their peers and teachers. After receiving a lesson, students are often given freedom in how they would like to do their follow-up work, such as making a book, chart, or oral presentation. Artwork is often incorporated into their daily work to promote self-expression. We also have specialist teachers in art, music, Spanish, physical education, library, computer, and drama to help develop students’ creativity.”
Communication: “Communication is truly the key to a successful educational experience, and it is at the heart of the Montessori philosophy. From a young age, we encourage our students to express themselves clearly and respectfully. Many of our classrooms create agreements [that] impart the needs of the students and teachers. These agreements are made collaboratively with active participation from the students. These agreements are then signed, posted, and referred to all year as a reminder of all of the expectations in the classroom.
“Our students are also given opportunities at an early age to speak to a group. In our preschool rooms, examples of this would be sharing an interesting item [or] presenting a piece of work they completed. In our elementary classrooms, students recite poems, give oral presentations on historical figures, present year-long projects, and participate in drama and music productions. The older students in all of our classrooms act as leaders and role models. All of these experiences help to build confidence and communication skills, preparing them for middle school and beyond.”
401 N. Fairview Ave., Goleta; (805) 683-9383; mcssb.org