Harborlight prepares promising students to become responsible leaders and lifelong learners through a Montessori education that emphasizes independence, creativity, collaboration, personal integrity, and interdependence.
As a learning community and laboratory school for Montessori teacher education, our school embraces innovation and active research in the classroom. Our faculty keeps current on the child development, validated research and best practices in education. They are able respond to the individual student needs with a responsive approach to teaching and learning in a classical Montessori environment.
Each classroom is a thriving social and learning community. In a multiage, interactive setting the students remain in the same classroom with their teachers for a full three-year cycle where they learn shared compassion, and respect for each other. These experiences reflect the natural groupings found in our neighborhoods and communities.
Older children as well as those who are academically advanced benefit immeasurably from the multiage experience. All children are able proceed in the curriculum when ready; often this is well beyond accomplishing the benchmarks for their typical age or grade. At times they reinforce lessons they have learned by sharing their knowledge with younger children, while the younger children observe the work of the older children and are motivated toward these future experiences. Without any sense of competition within the classroom, children are free to cooperate, invest in each other’s talents and pursuits, and creatively expand their own knowledge by setting personal goals and using internal motivation to meet them.
Children are not equal in their capacity for academic learning. Where a universal, academic curriculum may aggravate those differences, Montessori takes a richer, more varied approach through the prepared learning environment. Our students are encouraged to find out what they are well-suited to do for themselves and to respect the wonderful differences in talent they see in their classmates. Each multi-age classroom respects the diversity of human needs and reflects the global-mindedness we intend to engender in our students. To this end, the Harborlight curriculum first instills a personal understanding of one’s identity and next the interconnectedness of all living things.
We understand that Montessori curriculum provides the best possible foundation for future learning because children learn and retain information best when they are able to see, touch, and question the connections among ideas. It is the Montessori teachers’ task to engage the children in the experiences that will sustain their natural curiosity through a process of learning how to learn: observe, question, experiment, analyze, record. Necessary intellectual skills are instilled through a thorough understanding of curriculum content and experiential exploration of its practical application in the real world.
Homework is a way for students to develop the home and school partnership, reinforce basic skills, to expose children to real life curriculum connections and to begin cultivating responsible study habits. Homework assignments are also designed to encourage goal setting, time management and resourcefulness. Homework is not meant as busy work, but as extension of the daily learning experience and will not be difficult for the student to complete independently. We invite parents to value the importance of finishing quality work and returning it by the appropriate due date and allowing the student to learn the balance of freedom and responsibility.
Exploring and utilizing the world outside the classroom walls is an integral process in the Montessori experience. Students participate in a variety of these field trips each year. The Montessori classroom is purposefully limited in the planned classroom environment, where the key lessons are only the introduction and require additional exploration outside of the classroom. As students mature, there is an increased expectation for ‘going out’ experiences. As they pursue their learning in greater depth, they are given increased responsibility in the planning, research, and arrangement of the trips. These practical experiences not only connect content learning, but assist students in their development or organizational and communication skills.
Examples of going out: a trip to a nearby coastline for tide pooling, a composting center for large-scale composting, service learning at a local food pantry, visiting the local bank to make a class-business profit deposit, overnight trips to science and nature schools, hiking the White Mountains or Appalachian Trails, and international school-exchange programs.
The Advisory Program was established with consideration of program transition and developmental needs of the students beginning in fourth grade through to secondary school placement. Throughout the upper school experience, the Advisor serves as the link between home and school. Communication among parent, student, and Advisor regarding the student’s personal and academic welfare is essential. Guided by the School’s mission and core values, Advisors address the social, emotional and character development of students they contrast the academic advising they perform with the personal support they provide. As parents and students turn their attention to the transition to high school, the Middle School Teacher-Advisor becomes important contact person.