Montessori education thrives in Vero Beach

Children learning about different types of apples and how to properly cut them as a practical life lesson.

VERO BEACH - Children's Home Montessori is a private, state-licensed preschool in Vero Beach that offers a Montessori program. The home-based school is owned and directed by Sandy Hamrick, an American Montessori Society credentialed teacher who is licensed by the Florida Department of Children and Families as a family home child care.

“We follow the Montessori philosophy,” Ms. Hamrick told Hometown News.

The school’s namesake, Dr. Maria Montessori, was born in Italy in 1870. In 1894, she was the first woman to graduate with a degree in medicine from the University of Rome. In 1899 she began her study of educational problems of children, and in 1922 was appointed government inspector of schools in Italy.

Dr. Montessori wrote six books on learning and the child. She helped to establish the first known child labor laws in Italy, and was nominated five times for the Noble Peace Prize. Dr. Montessori died in 1952.

“Montessori is a hands-on learning environment,” Ms. Hamrick said. “We are a multi-age level program where the children have freedom of movement in the classroom, freedom to learn individually.”

Ms. Hamrick and her daughter/partner Taylor Flinchum are directresses in the classroom. They let the child choose the things they want to learn.

Children attend Children’s Home Montessori from age two and a half through Kindergarten.

“By the time the two-and-a-half year old becomes the Kindergartener in the classroom, they become excellent role models for the new two-and-a-half year olds coming into the program.”

“Montessori teachers are trained to be peaceful, loving, and kind,” Ms. Hamrick said. “We don’t raise our voice. If there is a challenge or a child who gets upset, we sit them down and talk about what happened and how it makes them feel. We teach the kids to work together to make everybody feel better. Then they learn to listen to each other, understand that how they feel is how their friend feels.”

The Montessori philosophy is to cultivate a child’s natural desire to learn. A child experiences the excitement of learning by using all of their senses in a multi-age, child-centered, structured environment, specifically prepared to provide freedom of choice and movement that will encourage the individual child’s unique learning style. Self-correcting hands-on exercises are designed to be mentally challenging and specific to each area of the classroom. Included are lessons on language, practical life experiences, math, science, geography, culture, music and art.

Practical life exercises help develop the child’s attention span, including scooping, pouring, buttoning, snapping, zipping, lacing, and tying.

“Each lesson is designed for a specific age, as the child moves forward through the three-year program,” said Ms. Hamrick. “The lessons are given one-on-one, or in groups of three children of a similar age level, allowing a self-paced, self-motivated instruction that is time-tested and based on scientific research, with 100 years of success in diverse cultures around the world.”

Sandy Hamrick holds a Bachelors Degree in Liberal Studies, and is credentialed and certified by the American Montessori Society for ages three through Kindergarten. Ms. Hamrick owned and ran Treasure Coast Montessori for 20 years, and has a total of 30 years in the Early Learning field. Children’s Home Montessori has been operated out of her home for nine years, in the same location. Ms. Hamrick is licensed for 10 children each day.

Ms. Hamrick was raised in Vero Beach and graduated from Vero Beach High School.

“People choose us because it’s small and intimate. There are ten children and two adults, so it’s a one-to-five ratio. The small ratio is important.”

“We teach them to clean up after themselves after lessons, so they become self-sufficient. They put their lesson back on the shelf, and roll their mats back up, very organized. They love those things that make them feel independent.”

Many of the skills taught at Children’s Home Montessori are the same skills and behaviors that the parent would like the child to have in the home.

For physical fun, the school has a newly renovated playground.

“When children get here, they run from the car to our door, they’re so excited to be here. They feel free and independent. I love that! They love being here because we make it homey and fun and exciting. We study everything. We just went on a nature walk at Charles Park, looking for pine cones, pine needles, acorns. We study leaves. For two weeks before the nature walk, we studied the things they’d be finding. We did botany lessons with botany trays so they’d understand what they were looking at.”

Children’s Home Montessori is open Monday-Friday, 7:45 a.m.-5:15 p.m., Sept.–May. Programs are available for two days, three days, and five days per week.

Children’s Home Montessori is located at 2625 Atlantic Blvd., Vero Beach. For more information, call (772) 766-4153, email childrenshomemont@aol.com, or visit www.facebook.com/ChildrensHomeMontessori/.

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