Every school has a distinct community, curriculum, and culture that shapes student development. Here is why Lamplighter is an education for life.

● Real life happens here.

Philosopher and educator John Dewey said, “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” From the very first day of school, Lamplighter students self-direct their daily activity. They learn how to tend to their own needs and identify the needs of the environment (preparing a snack, putting on their jacket, choosing an activity, sweeping up a spill, watering plants). These activities of daily living develop a level of physical and intellectual independence not common in young children. They learn how to responsibly steer their daily activity, fueled by their innate drive to learn. This daily experience of being trusted with real responsibility for meaningful tasks results in children with authentically earned self-confidence. 


● A collaborative classroom culture.

Every classroom has a culture of collaboration, kindness, and goodwill. Mutual respect defines teacher-student-peer relationships. The youngest children start with lessons in “Grace and Courtesy”—lessons that not only teach basic manners, but also, how to respect themselves, others, their classroom, and the environment. And if they disagree, they are taught conflict resolution and self-advocacy strategies, so they always have the tools to confidently address their peers and solve problems.  Each classroom has a culture steeped in cooperation and collaboration. Students practice working together to accomplish tasks. They begin to identify opportunities when their contributions would be particularly useful or helpful. They also become more aware of the complex interconnectedness of living and non-living things. They learn to respect these relationships and their value to human existence. Lamplighter students grow to be good citizens with a strong desire to influence their community positively.

● No “sit and get.”

Have you ever seen a child who can stay still? Neither have we. Montessori classrooms hum with the activity of engaged learners. From the very beginning, students are free to move about, choose their work, and collaborate with a peer. We value the skills children gain through grasping, stacking, carrying a tray (carefully!), pouring, and balancing. Appropriate physical skills are taught at all levels so children continuously improve coordination and competencies. This seamless incorporation of movement into daily life eliminates the fidgeting and boredom often associated with extended work at a desk.

● Going with the “flow”.

Each child is free to choose their daily work. When students are younger, the teacher will observe, but not interrupt, provided the work is purposeful. They have long uninterrupted blocks of work time to immerse themselves fully in their endeavors. As they get older they begin to take deep dives into their studies, not just skimming the surface. Lamplighter elementary and middle school students thrive with ample time to intake and process new information, analyze it, draw conclusions, form and defend opinions with data to back it up, reflect on their work, and approach problems systematically. This sustained attention to their learning process promotes critical thinking skills. When children are given the opportunity to engage in meaningful, interesting, self-directed work, they achieve a high level of focused concentration. Scientists refer to this as a “flow” state of prolonged, energized work that produces both calm satisfaction and a profound joy in learning. 

● Social-emotional learning-
   all day, every day.

Lamplighter students spend three years in the same classroom with the same teachers and peers. The multi-age classroom provides the opportunity for children to learn from each other, master skills, and facilitate learning for their classmates. This early socialization creates a close-knit community, lasting relationships with their teacher, and experiences that build emotional intelligence not possible in a traditional classroom. The only time we separate people by age is in a typical school setting; but that homogeneity is not representative of the real world. Students learn how to work constructively with a wide variety of people to complete projects. Daily opportunities to socialize teach Lamplighter students the interpersonal skills necessary to develop meaningful friendships. 


● Freedom with responsibility.

These two go hand-in-hand because you must have one in order to earn the other. As a child grows, so do his choices and responsibilities. This instills a level of ownership and self-direction that is greatly needed to be successful throughout life. There is freedom of choice built in to all daily activities. Children learn to be responsible decision makers in a self-reflective atmosphere; they become increasingly self-aware and aligned as possible with their most authentic selves. During kindergarten they start to learn how to complete their daily “challenging work.” Then in lower elementary they independently work through a daily assignment plan, then on to a weekly work plan in Upper Elementary. Before you know it they are responsible for a month long syllabus of work and are running their own business. Is it any wonder that so many entrepreneurs and successful leaders credit their Montessori foundations with their success?

● Learning is the reward.

Children do not need gold stars to improve behavior or performance. In fact, external rewards only demean a child’s intentions to an arbitrary value. We don’t measure a child’s effort or their competencies that way.  Typical teaching simply requires the student to reproduce the correct answer. Programs like “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top” tend to take the joy out of learning because it requires the teacher to focus on tests and grades. We are not relegated to “teach to the test” even though students do have test-taking experiences. Because students work independently and one-on-one with the teachers, assessment happens all day, everyday, through careful observation of each individual child. In a Montessori classroom, learning is a journey of discovery, so student achievement is all their own. These "aha" moments inspire success, promoting a lifelong engagement in their studies. By shaping the learning experience to be a personal pursuit, Lamplighter students take full ownership of their education, so schooling isn't something that happens "to" them; instead, it's a source of personal fulfillment. 

● Grit. Growth.
   Perseverance. Resilience. 

While increased self-awareness is inherent to the Montessori Method, at Lamplighter, we also teach mindfulness as a life skill. They learn to regulate their breathing- steady breath, steady mind. Students practice how to relax their bodies, find stillness and tune in to their environment or "watch their thoughts." Lessons on the Growth Mindset begin in earnest in Lower Elementary, and students work through their Big Life Journal, which teaches perseverance, resilience, self-belief, positive thinking, and more. Teachers model a "can-do" attitude in our youngest students and foster a shame-free atmosphere where students are safe to make mistakes and try again. They practice a Growth Mindset by identifying alternative responses to setbacks. When they can implement them independently, they gain confidence in their ability to overcome feelings of disappointment, thus developing true strength of character. Grit is having the perseverance and passion to complete endeavors and achieve goals despite episodes of failure and adversity. We see value in giving children room to make mistakes, face some adversity, get back up on their own, and grow from their experiences. Gaining resilience leads to the development of the mental stamina needed to sustain commitment toward goals. Middle Schoolers study the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, work through their Personal World curriculum, and lead their daily group meetings with their peers. Lamplighter provides continuity of educational enrichment, character development, and self-discovery by building on progress achieved in each of our programs, toddler through Middle School. When you choose Montessori for your child, you are choosing an education for life. 


● Global literacy is built-in.

Children learn best when they have a context, a framework for assimilating new information. From an early age, students gain a broad knowledge of the continents, countries, and cultures around the globe. They build on this foundation to gain an understanding of how the world is organized and interconnected so they are able to think critically about the world and the role that they play in it. Furthermore, they gain an awareness of the possibilities and constraints facing the world's people. Social justice topics are introduced in Upper Elementary and current issues are viewed through the lens of factual history. Students gain a deep appreciation for the systemic disenfranchisement of our citizens and people around the world.

● Education for life.

We teach the way children learn. Montessori is not just a philosophy or national common curriculum. It is an education methodology based on the natural development of the human being. Montessori education emphasizes the process, so children know how to learn, not just what to learn. We view education as helping each child reach their full potential. We focus on all of it. That is the difference. Montessori is more than just school. It is education for life.