At Colin Macdonald Community School we provide a creative and child-centred approach to education that promotes personal and academic growth. Our program encourages children to excel at their own pace at their own level. Our teachers support students’ different learning styles in a small, enriched classroom environment.
Our vision is to inspire students to become life-long learners and compassionate world citizens able to reach their full creative potential.
Our strength flows from our willingness and ability to work with both children and parents to provide the best possible individualized, interest-led, and self-directed educational experience. We are a flexible and caring holistic community in which a child’s desire to learn is recognized, nurtured, and respected.
What is Child-Centred Learning?
Some parents ask: What do you mean by child-centred learning? Why have you chosen to take this approach? Will my child learn what they need to succeed (especially for the transition to high school)?
Child-centred learning is a particular approach to education that puts the child at the centre of learning. Most conventional education puts adults in the centre. Adults are the givers of knowledge and children are the receivers. Of course, the knowledge that we pass on to our children is important but if you watch children learn you soon realize that the things they learn and keep are those things that
1) hold their interest and
2) are learned through experience (of course this is true for adults as well).
Child-centred learning meets both these criteria. Children have a voice in directing their education so they learn what interests them and learning in the Colin Macdonald classroom is a multi-layered learning experience. Our teachers provide opportunities for children to learn with all their senses in many unique ways. You could say that our school teaches children the skills they need to learn whatever may interest them rather than teaching them what adults think they should know and hoping they pick up the skills to learn along the way. Or to put it another way you could say that instead of making a child follow a curriculum we make the curriculum follow the child.
So why do we take this approach? We believe that the goal of education is to produce life-long learners with high self-esteem, a strong sense of self, a commitment to community and the skills to live a full and happy life. Child-centred learning has several advantages in achieving this goal. First, it is an approach that allows children to take a learning path of personal discovery. It provides them with an opportunity to confront new information and challenges, of their choosing, when they are ready. This allows for a steady progression of growth so that students are not overwhelmed and/or bored.
The result is that students gain self-confidence and retain their love of learning. As well, not every child will learn in the same way. Some children learn through listening, some through reading and others by doing. CMCS allows children to learn in the way that best suits them while providing opportunities for them to improve other skills. This approach also encompasses all the different types of intelligence (including social skills and self-knowledge) that children need to become whole, happy, successful human beings.
Our child-centred approach includes an emphasis on community. Our school is very connected to our external community through our field trips. Children need the whole world as their classroom and our teachers not only bring the world into the classroom through visitors, the internet and other forms of information, they also take their students out into the world to explore. Our school community is also central to learning. CMCS is our children’s “village”.
There is a lot of interaction between grade levels and all the teachers know all the children and vice versa. There is an emphasis on helping children learn how to deal with a variety of other people – that is they learn the skills to build and maintain community. They also feel the safety and support of many adults and other children – not just their own teacher.
For those of you who are a little skeptical, research supports our approach as well. A U.S. study looked at child-centred versus conventional education and found that students from child-centred schools:
- Earned a slightly higher total grade average
- Received slightly more academic honours in each of the four years
- Seemed to possess a higher degree of intellectual curiosity and drive
- Seemed to be more precise, systematic and objective in their thinking
- Seemed to have developed clearer ideas concerning education
- More often demonstrated a high degree of resourcefulness in meeting new situations
- Had about the same problems of adjustment as the comparison group but approached their solution with greater effectiveness
- Participated more and more frequently in organized student groups
- Earned a higher percentage of non-academic honours
- Had a somewhat better orientation toward choice of vocation
- Demonstrated a more active concern with national and world affairs
In answer to the question, “Will my child be prepared for life?”, Yes! They will have the skills to learn anything, the self-confidence to do anything and a community that provides a launching pad into the next stage of their lives.
Learning more about Montessori
The following are suggested as recommended reading regarding Montessori:
- Montessori A Modern Approach by Paula Polk Lillard
- Montessori Today by Paula Polk Lillard
- The Montessori Method by Maria Montessori
- Montessori and your child by Terry Malloy
- Education for Human Development by Mario Montessori
- Maria Montessori- Her Life and Work by E.M. Standing
- The Absorbent Mind by Maria Montessori
- The Discovery of the child by Maria Montessori
- The Secret of childhood by Maria Montessori
- To Educate the Human potential by Maria Montessori
- The Formation of man by Maria Montessori
- From Childhood to adolescence by Maria Montessori
- The Montessori Way by Tim Seldin
How to Raise an Amazing Child by Tim Seldin
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