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Welcome Back Advertiser Three Tree Montessori School

Advertiser Three Tree Montessori School invites you to schedule a visit. Come and view the beautiful classrooms, gardens and playgrounds, and learn about Montessori programs for children ages one through twelve.

Have you driven down SW 160th Street and wondered what was going on behind those whimsical columns? That warm ochre and brick-colored building is the home of Three Tree Montessori School: a rich and vibrant community that supports the education principals of Dr. Maria Montessori. Montessori is a time-tested (since 1907 in Europe, and the mid-50s in the US), holistic education approach, designed to nurture the whole child.

Choosing a school for your child is arguably one of the most difficult decisions you will make for them. There are so many possibilities (public, private, conventional, or alternative) that it can be overwhelming. Three Tree Montessori School provides relaxing/no-pressure tours to inquiring families. They generously answer questions, offer resources, and (surprisingly) encourage visitors to visit competing local schools (as well as their own).

What makes Three Tree Montessori School different from many schools is its commitment to the founding principles of Dr. Maria Montessori. The Montessori name is not trademarked, which means that any school may call itself a Montessori. But Three Tree Montessori School is dedicated to the AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) approach. AMI was founded by Dr. Montessori herself in 1929, and is committed to preserving the integrity of Maria Montessori’s method. Each TTMS teacher is accredited by AMI, which is equivalent to a Master’s Degree, and many have a Master of Education degree as well. TTMS teachers also go each year for intensive additional training to assure that their education is current and refreshed. The AMI method focuses on each child’s potential, providing hands-on experiences that nurture the love of learning. It emphasizes collaboration, self-expression, and self-motivation in a beautifully prepared environment, which fosters respect, peace, joy and learning for life.

To give you an idea of what Three Tree Montessori School is like, here’s a slideshow of photos:

We spent time viewing Three Tree’s students at work. It wasn’t like any classroom we knew of, being products of public school, but it was fascinating and worth explaining to our readers who are interested in public school alternatives.

Montessori divides classes by the age and needs of the individual child, not by arbitrary timelines. The Toddler Program includes children aged 1 (and walking) to 3. There are two toddler classes with 12 students in each class guided by a teacher and two assistants. Students may stay half day or full day.

The Toddler environment is charming to see. The rooms are designed with toddler sized furniture, tools and instruments, made primarily of natural and beautiful materials. The room is conceived as an extension of the home: designed to meet the needs of the child and to foster independence, motor coordination and language acquisition. This is where young children experience their first structured contact with other children. We observed tea parties, biscuit-baking and sweeping all performed with age appropriate tools.

Next we were off to the Primary Program for ages 2 ½ – 6. We observed one of four primary classes. There is a teacher, an assistant, and a support staff. One of the basic tenets of Montessori theory is the multi-age classroom. Here students learn practical life, sensorial, cultural, math, language activities and of course, outdoor play. The materials, here too, are beautiful and hands on. Observation, experimentation, and kinesthetic learning are basic building blocks in this world. There isn’t a desk in sight; instead there are chairs, bookshelves, and tables that are sized appropriately. Many of the children were using floor mats, studying math and geography working in groups or individually, with the older students mentoring the younger. We noted how peaceful it was as they were engaged at their own pace.

Finally we were welcomed into one of the two Elementary classrooms. Yes, welcomed. Two girls (class greeters) welcomed BTB and offered tea. There are two Elementary classrooms at Three Tree Montessori School. The Lower Elementary Classroom serves ages 6 – 9, and the upper Elementary serves children ages 9 – 12. Students were working in small groups. Elementary children are noted for their questioning minds and their imaginations. The ability to reason is at its greatest capacity in the child of this age. The elementary classroom is designed to be the stepping-off point into the universe. The study of language includes writing, reading and oral expression. Math includes arithmetic, geometry and algebra (and we’re talking little kids learning this stuff!). Once again, all this learning is done in a variety of classroom areas on the floor, in the garden, or at tables.

After our tours of the classrooms were complete, we toured the gardens. Outdoor education is as important as indoor education at Three Tree Montessori School. Each age group has a spacious garden area planted just outside the classroom. We saw tidying, watering, and harvesting.

Service to the community is also an important aspect of the program. Over the years, the children of Elementary have raised money for a Montessori school in Kenya, organized food drives for Northwest Harvest and holiday gift drives for the non-profit organization Baby Boutique, and held a clothing drive for a local family who lost all their belongings in a fire.

Three Tree Montessori School is a board run, non-profit school that has been steadily growing since 2003. The 2011/2012 school year will kick off with a new logo and two new classroom environments. It offers an impressively diverse student and teacher population. They work to keep classrooms balanced (with age, gender, ethnicity, ability, & personality). There are 125 students at the school with room for more.

For more information about Three Tree Montessori School, please contact the school office at (206) 242-5100 or visit their website. The School is located in Burien at 220 SW 160th, near Sylvester Middle School.

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