Montessori school opens in Brickell
By Deborah España
La Prima Casa Montessori preschool opened Monday, targeting the Brickell area and parents who work in the business district but still want to be involved in their children's day.
Though located in back of the Emmanuel Lutheran church, 1770 Brickell Ave., the school is independent of the church and bases its teaching methods on the Italian doctor Maria Montessori.
Learning doesn't end in the classroom for Montessori children, said the school's directors. Teachers encourage parents to visit and have lunch with their kids and continue the learning process at home.
"The more you do at home with them, the more disciplined children become," said Angela Ciocca, one of the school's directors.
Ms. Montessori opened the first school for children with Down syndrome in 1907 in Italy and designed her teaching style with the idea that all children could learn more. Today, the method is used worldwide for all children.
Both Ms. Ciocca and Jennifer Hewittson, another director at the school, received their Association Montesorri Internationale certification and instruction in Italy rather than through the American Montessori Society certification.
"Working independently is part of the Montessori method of teaching," said Ms. Hewittson.
"The Montessori method of teaching is meant to teach children about independence," she said. "They don't come to school to play; they come to school to work."
Every morning La Prima Casa Montessori students get ready for class by donning blue or pink smocks and heading to their workstations. Whether it's a lesson in language, mathematics, practical life or sensory motor skills they have to work independently.
Children work within a three-hour intervals and are taught skills from cutting a banana and slicing cheese to sounds of letters and becoming more perceptive, said Ms. Ciocca.
"We have a garden as part of the curriculum and we plant seeds, water them and watch them grow. They are later used in a soup or we eat them."
Teaching is not always by a conventional method where children expect to see a teacher in the front of the classroom explaining a lesson. Children are taught a lesson individually based on the four areas of study and it's up to them to master the lesson and then move on, said Ms. Hewittson.
The school now has toddlers enrolled and is to add 60 pupils. The expansion will allow children 18 months to kindergarten, said Ms. Hewittson.
The cost of enrollment is $750 a month. Class starts at 8:45 a.m. and end at 2:45 p.m. Parents who can't pick up their children at that time can pay $150 a month extra or by the hour. Early drop-off is free.
"Children at this age don't need standardized tests and the pressure of having to learn," said Ms. Ciocca. "You have to grab a child's inner discipline."
Details: (305) 854-2824.