Connie Allen’s methods might be different from those of her peers at public schools, but she shares the universal goal of seeing children improve in their education training.
“I enjoy seeing the progress that they make,” says Allen, who has more than 30 years of experience teaching young students at Montessori Children’s House in West Des Moines.
To help facilitate their progress, Allen subscribes to the Montessori method of allowing students to learn at their own pace. Founded by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori more than 100 years ago, a Montessori education emphasizes “independence, freedom within limits and respect for a child’s natural psychological, physical and social development.”
At Montessori Children’s House, like other Montessori schools, classrooms include students of mixed ages, uninterrupted blocks of work time, specialized educational materials and choices of activities within a prescribed range of options.
“We have a wide range of learning going on in our classroom,” says Allen, who teaches students ages 3 to 6 years old. “We use phonics-based readings techniques and lots of beads and Montessori materials for math. The morning is our work time and after lunch they play with Legos and other things and take a nap.”
Students also learn how to read, write and speak Spanish as well as how to play music. Many of the lessons that they learn are hands-on, says Allen.
“We use sensorial things like the beads to illustrate smallest to largest,” she says. “They have to walk across the room to count things because movement helps them learn.”
When studying geography, Allen uses colorful puzzle maps to help students identify continents.
“The different colors really help them,” she says.
That kind of approach to education, Allen says, is why she has remained loyal to Montessori teaching methods for so many years.
“It’s unlimited what students can learn,” she says.