FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Are you traditional Montessori?
Yes and no. We love the Montessori philosophy of follow the child. We also know that social structures have changed since Maria Montessori developed her methods. Dr. Montessori used existing research and theories from multiple sources and blended them together to work for her situation. At Nature Story, we do the same. We are mostly based on the principles founded by Dr. Montessori, but also implement a blend of social and emotional development and physical education to make sure children are emotionally, socially, physically, and academically prepared for a transition to the traditional public school environment.
Will my child know quantum physics by the time they hit Kindergarten?
Maybe. But if they do, we won’t be taking all the credit for that. It is probably genetics and opportunity that lead your child to understand such complex systems.
BUT we will work with your child to be prepared for a transition to public school. Our local school districts have the most amazing teachers. Even if your child does not know how to read going into Kinder, the exceptional teachers will work with them and have the vast support of the public school system to cradle your child’s development. Our goal is to send them to that classroom with the confidence, love of learning, and social intelligence to navigate their feelings and environment to ensure the effectiveness of the teachers in the public school system.
Some students will excel in the subjects which they enjoy. There are drawbacks for being “too prepared” for Kindergarten. If a child is not being challenged enough, they may act out. Or if a child focused only on academics in preschool, they may have trouble navigating the social friendships and relationships within their class. This causes anxiety and decreased self confidence. We want our students to be in the “Goldilock’s Zone” going into Kinder.
What is the focus of your curriculum?
The child. Your child will get the individualized attention they deserve to develop in a healthy and appropriate timeline. Childhood should be fun. Luckily, we understand that and structure our environment with low stakes educational materials. Our priority is your child’s happiness. If they aren’t comfortable, they won’t learn to the best of their ability. Think of it as Maslov’s Hierarchy of Needs. Our classroom structure can accommodate the brightest of children but it is our staff and relationships that foster the safe place for child to explore and discover themselves and the world around them.
Every “work” (activity) has a scientifically based educational benefit even the ones that just look like toys. Ask us about them! Fine motor skills, literacy, tactile learning, pattern recognition, practical life skills, the list goes on and on. Children get to explore these works to develop and learn without knowing these were specially made to have a control group. Some are self correcting and others have limited capabilities. This is another department where we are not traditional Montessori. Traditional Montessori works are those which you buy (or build) but are very specific in purpose. You will be able to find these traditional materials all over our centers. We also create nontraditional Montessori-friendly works which also have specific purposes but allow child to explore the method in different manners.
How qualified are your teachers?
Amazingly qualified. Our staff comes from diverse backgrounds but they all share the same values — the children come first. Our teachers are Montessori trained and/or degreed in various fields. We encourage each staff member to bring their own strengths to the table to enhance our curriculum and celebrate the different strengths each person has been gifted. We also convey that same celebration to the children. Some may see a child as “bossy” but we see a child with strong leadership skills. They just need to be guided to utilize their strengths in their favor and turn the “bossy” weakness into a leadership strength. By gently working on social development, we hope to encourage self worth and growth with maximizing confidence within themselves.
What is your discipline policy?
Discipline is not a word we like to use. We strongly feel that children need to explore and when they are acting or reacting in a certain way, they are trying to communicate some need to the people around them. At Nature Story, we redirect children to accomplish their goal but in a safe environment and structure with clear boundaries. For example, if a child is running, we ask them to use walking feet inside and let them know that it is ok to run but we do that outside during outdoor exploration.
How are you so inexpensive with such an amazing program?
Well, I am glad you asked that. Expense is relative to each family’s position. Socioeconomic status is something that blends well in the Montessori method. With the quality of our program and the expenses incurred, it has been suggested that we charge more. We never want cost to determine availability for any family. We ask families who can afford more to contribute to classroom expenses/scholarships on a voluntary basis and families who may be stretched to speak with us about how we can adjust your tuition and supplement scholarships to make sure your child receives the best care and guidance without the added stress of making an unaffordable tuition payment. We will always give as much as we can, when we can.
What is the ultimate goal for Nature Story?
Relationships matter. Childhood is not something to be rushed through or a bar to set, but something to embrace and enjoy. Time is the only thing we can never get back. We need to cherish the growth and development and celebrate each child for who they are.
So what about Covid-19?
Yes, we are prepared. As you may have heard, one of our staff members tested positive this summer. We were in uncharted waters and used reasoning and transparency to attack the situation. We closed our facility for two days while the health department contact traced. We informed our Nature Story community to convey the important information to allow them to make educated decisions regarding their family. All of our staff and most of our families opted to get tested. All came back negative. Even the positive staff’s family tested negative multiple times. We reopened after two days safely without any issues.
At that point, we were on an uptick of cases for Lewis and Clark and Jefferson Co. We buckled down and took the unpopular leadership role to encourage our communities to stay vigilant to combat the virus. Our counties’ active cases have decreased since then. Do we think we are the reason for that? Partly. There is no simple solution for complex problems. We have to be in this together to make it through. In ecology, everything is connected. Something as contagious and vastly misunderstood as Covid requires businesses like Nature Story to make the hard decisions like announcing our positive case. Even though we had some negative repercussions with our announcement, we stand by our decision to be transparent. Our community — your family — deserve to have the information needed to make the decisions which are best for you and your family. Only you can make those decisions.
And for those sweet people asking, our staff member has made a full recovery and is doing well. ♥️