Fountainhead Montessori Orinda
Supporting Children and Their Parents
About Fountainhead Montessori Orinda
Fountainhead Montessori’s Orinda, California, location offers a fun and explorative learning environment and a flexible program. As part of Fountainhead Montessori, the Orinda preschool belongs to a well-established school with a long history of employing highly experienced educators and offering affordable childcare and prekindergarten education. The nonprofit school adheres to the Montessori philosophy that children learn best when they freely explore activities that best interest them.
Fountainhead Montessori focuses not only on supporting and serving children (ages 2-6); the preschool also supports parents by working within their schedules and budgets. To parents, the program offers a unique flexibility and transparency not often found at preschools. For instance, the school does not limit enrollment to only toilet-trained toddlers and does not require parents and family to raise funds. The school does offer discounts for enrolling more than one child and for making time commitments to the program. Additionally, it offers hourly childcare, and it allows parents and family to create their own schedules.
Another benefit of the Orinda school and its counterparts: no hidden fees. None of the Fountainhead locations requires registration, application, enrollment, or wait-list fees. Learn more at FMS.org.
Fountainhead Montessori Offers Insect and Animal Encounter Programs
Fountainhead Montessori of Orinda, California, hosts an assortment of after-school enrichment programs through third-party providers, such as on-campus field trips featuring visits from the ZooMobile and InsectMobile. Held at all Fountainhead Montessori campuses each spring, these visits offer students the opportunity to learn about a variety of animals and insects through up-close encounters.
Children in the preschool, pre-K, and kindergarten levels may participate in visits from the Oakland Zoo’s ZooMobile and interact with a zoo educator and the animal ambassadors they bring along. Previous visiting animal ambassadors include rabbits, hedgehogs, and turtles. Educators also bring an assortment of animal artifacts to further the learning process.
Also visiting the school each spring is San Francisco’s Insect Discovery Lab, the InsectMobile. The InsectMobile uses a hands-on learning approach to teach children how insects affect the environment and eco-system, while allowing them to interact with various arthropods such as millipedes, walking sticks, and beetles.
The ZooMobile and InsectMobile on-site field trips are available to Fountainhead Montessori students at no cost. For more information and future visit dates, visit the school’s website at www.fms.org.
The Montessori Teacher
It’s not likely that you’ll spot a teacher in a classroom at Fountainhead Montessori Orinda standing in front of seated and subdued children, lecturing from a rote lesson plan. Rather, at Fountainhead Montessori Orinda, the teacher may be anywhere in the room, helping a student on a computer, watching a dissection, reciting lines of a play written by one of the students, or in any number of other places.
A teacher in Montessori education has many roles in facilitating a classroom where the emphasis is on student learning through exploration, discovery, and questioning rather than memorization and recitation of canned material. The Montessori teacher is aware of each of his or her students’ unique needs and interests, and organizes a classroom environment where children can learn in a hands-on way through doing.
As each child masters various skills, the Montessori teacher introduces new topics; the goal is for children to take an active role and interest in driving their own education. The teacher guides students as they move into an increasingly complex curriculum and encourages them to enjoy and understand learning as a process.
The Montessori teacher also serves as a role-model in helping students develop character by encouraging respect for others and recognition of the individual. Montessori education emphasizes the development of the entire person, not just the learning of specific material. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a Montessori teacher, visit the teacher resources page of the American Montessori Society website: http://amshq.org.
Montessori Teacher Education Programs Adhere to Rigorous Standards
At Fountainhead Montessori, which has campuses in Orinda and five other California locales, many classroom teachers have more than a decade of experience in Montessori environments and hold undergraduate or graduate degrees. Furthermore, most teachers at the Fountainhead Montessori campuses have the opportunity to utilize Fountainhead's own accredited Montessori Training program.
According to the American Montessori Society (AMS), both teachers and administrators can participate in an AMS-affiliated Montessori teacher education program (TEP). To attain AMS affiliation, a TEP must meet accreditation standards set by the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education. To serve the wide range of potential student needs, TEPs are available through free-standing, independent programs, which may offer undergraduate or graduate credit, and through traditional colleges and universities.
While each TEP has its own course schedule and tuition rates, all programs meet rigorous standards that ensure participants receive the preparation they need for employment in a Montessori school. Each program requires participants to attain a specific number of "contact hours," which involve direct instruction in a classroom. However, certain programs may offer opportunities for students to complete coursework online.
Immersion Programs Facilitate Effective Second Language Acquisition
At its campuses in Orinda and other Northern California communities, Fountainhead Montessori provides a child-centered educational environment for children aged 18 months to 9 years. Established in 1972, Fountainhead Montessori offers on its Orinda campus an optional Spanish immersion program for preschool and kindergarten students. According to the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA), participating in immersion programs can be an effective way to gain proficiency in a second language.
In an immersion program, students receive classroom instruction in a second language rather than receiving separate teaching of another language. Research has shown that the immersion approach helps students gain native-level listening and reading comprehension skills, as well as greater spoken fluency, more effectively than they would through other second language learning approaches. In addition, immersion students show strong development of literacy skills and an enhanced understanding about the functions of the distinct parts of a language.
Acquisition of a second language helps many individuals cultivate strong critical-thinking and pattern recognition abilities that serve them well in other academic pursuits. As an added, long-term benefit, gaining mastery of a second language gives individuals opportunities for employment and cultural awareness that are less available to peers who speak only one language.
The Benefits of Immersion Language Learning
Serving children and families since 1972, Fountainhead Montessori of Orinda, California, has programs for children aged 18 months to 6 years spread among five campuses. Geared toward providing a varied learning experience, Fountainhead Montessori offers immersion Mandarin at its Dublin campus.
Immersion language learning is characterized by more than 50 percent of learning occurring in a new language. In the program, teachers use manipulatives, modeling, and instructional explanation to teach students in the foreign language. Students learning foreign languages through immersion generally have a higher comprehension rate and better literacy than those who learn the language through traditional academic methods.
Immersion language learning has been shown to improve a child’s cognitive skills. Because of the labor-intensive nature of immersion learning, students develop different parts of their brains, allowing them to better break apart words and decide between two different options.
Research has shown that bilinguals are more adept at solving problems with conflicting cues early in life than their monolingual counterparts. Bilingual students are also more sensitive to non-verbal and verbal cues as compared to monolinguals.