A love of life-long learning begins here!
In Barrie's Lower School, we offer an authentic, hands-on Montessori education with programs for toddlers (starting at 12 months) through elementary school (Grade 5) that focus on the the uniqueness of each child, and support optimum learning experiences. Our conscientious faculty, low student-to-teacher ratio, and individualized attention provide an exceptional learning environment.
Many families choose our school, because we are known for being a great school—and stay through the elementary years, because they have discovered that the individualized, joyful learning experiences in Montessori are worth investing in.
Bright classrooms with lots of windows are equipped with a full range of Montessori materials, and most classrooms have direct access to the outside, allowing children to flow between air-conditioned or heated inside work and gardening, art and other outside activities throughout the day. Play areas surround our Lower School campus, providing children with the opportunity for active play—from play structures to art projects to gardening, and our 45 acre campus provides outdoor learning opportunities that aren't available inside the classroom..
Whether enrolled only for early years or you continue on to our Middle and Upper School, your child can thrive at our school for many years.
- Toddler (Ages 12 months-2)
- Primary (Ages 3-6)
- Lower Elementary (Grades 1-3)
- Upper Elementary (Grades 4-5)
- Outdoor Education (Grades 1-5)
- Health & Wellness
Our Toddler Program is designed to meet the needs of the ever inquisitive toddler. At this age, children learn best by doing. Our thoughtfully prepared environments allow for plenty of hands-on activities that introduce new concepts and allow ample time for independent practice.
Areas of our curriculum encompass Language, Sensorial, Practical Life, Math, Science and Culture. Art is a regular part of each day with various media available and ready for each child’s independent exploration.
Toddlers build self-confidence, skills of independence, and social skills while growing academically, physically, and emotionally. This program is rounded out with weekly music, Spanish, and PE classes.
Toddlers explore Barrie's 45-acre wooded campus on a regular basis.
Summer Program: Toddler Stepping Stones
Students who are currently enrolled in Barrie School's Toddler program are welcome to sign up for this eight-week summer program. The 2021 Toddler Stepping Stones Program builds on the Montessori principles of hands-on learning and independence from the previous school year. Guided by experienced teachers, children will engage in projects, water activities, nature walks, stories, songs, and art activities. Summer students will enjoy a fun, safe summer in familiar surroundings with Barrie friends.
- All current Barrie students must be at least 2 years old by June 14, 2021 but not 4 years old before January 1, 2022. (Please note: Children who turn 4 years old by January 1, 2022 are eligible to enroll in Barrie Camp.)
- Returning students and those who are not returning are welcome to sign up, but re-enrolled students have priority. Space is limited!
Barrie's learning environments for students ages 3-6 contain the curriculum areas typically found in a Montessori early childhood classroom:
- Practical Life
- a class library area
- Cultural (including Biology, History, and Geography)
These spaces provide our Primary students with the opportunities to develop, practice and hone concentration, coordination, order and independence. Through hands-on work in a carefully, intentionally designed, and prepared environment, students develop independence, confidence, and a passion for learning. These skills are essential to children participating in the formation of their intelligence as they build the foundation for future success.
Children have an intrinsic need for order, combined with the instinctive capacity to absorb impressions from their environment. Primary classrooms are designed to serve these needs. Hands-on materials are sequentially organized into curricular areas within which each item has its place. This strengthens the student’s sense of order and provides a sense of security in the world upon which the child can depend.
Students are encouraged to choose activities based upon their particular interests and are introduced to new possibilities both by teachers and peers. A sense of responsibility is fostered, as students are encouraged to share materials, complete each activity, and return the materials in good condition for other children to use. The order of the classroom also assists the students in organizing the impressions that they are receiving by helping them create “mental file cabinets” for the efficient storage and retrieval of information. Special classes include art, music, physical education, and Spanish.
The Lower Elementary classroom is a multi-age, stimulating environment that invites exploration and research. Students in grades 1-3 remain with the same teacher for three years.
This allows for the development of a deep understanding of each student and creates the opportunity to provide a comprehensive, individually focused education for each child. The multi-age setting provides opportunities for leadership while developing mentoring skills in children.
- Discovery: The Lower Elementary students are at a place and time of insatiable curiosity for discovering the world. This curiosity primes students to seek information about the continents, cultures, and scientific concepts. Practical Life, math, language, reading, geometry, zoology, botany, and history comprise the Lower Elementary curriculum. Hand-on Montessori manipulatives guide students from a concrete understanding of concepts to abstract thinking.
- Academics: Math concepts begin with concrete understanding of place value, quantity, and symbol. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division are incorporated into every aspect of the day. Students build a fundamental understanding fractions and geometry with manipulatives, which help develop a visual and tactile understanding of concepts.
Cultural work incorporates botany, zoology, history, and science. An in-depth study of two or three countries per year offers map-making skills. Our wooded 45-acre campus offers an incredible environment for exploration and application of cultural work.
- Work Plans/Journal: Lower Elementary students use work plans to help develop time management skills and to track work completed throughout the year. While the younger students use the work plan to record activities completed, older students use it to plan their day and week.
- Class Meetings: Student-led meetings provide a platform for student voice, problem solving, and appreciations.
- Three year age span: This gives younger children the opportunity to observe and learn from classmates while older students have a chance to nurture and teach younger students.
- Work Habits: Children learn to set goals, organize work, and manage time. Students work collaboratively to foster social and cooperative skills. Class meetings provide opportunities for problem solving as well as offering a platform for student voice. Productive, independent work time develops attention span and concentration. Each day is a balance of individual work, small-group cooperative work, small-group lessons, and large-group lessons. Students use hands-on, science-based manipulatives to discover and learn concepts. These Montessori materials are designed to move students from a concrete work to abstract understanding.
- Confidence: Concentration and independence developed in the primary program builds confidence in our Lower Elementary students. Confident learners seek challenges and are inquisitive about the world around them. Lessons rich in cultural content and scientific exploration provide the foundation for the integration of other areas of study. Appreciation of other cultures is reinforced through continent studies that include individual research, stories, map-making, artifacts, cooking, field trips, and celebrations. Enrichment classes include art, Spanish, physical education, library science, and music.
- Practical Life: Practical Life is integrated into every moment of the day. Students are responsible for the care of themselves and classmates as well as the maintenance of the classroom. Elementary students organize and clean materials on the shelves; care for the plants and animals, and prepare and share snacks.
A Montessori Upper Elementary education challenges children intellectually while promoting the development of important life skills, providing a nurturing environment for social-emotional growth, and allowing children to begin to explore their place in society and the world. The Upper Elementary program at Barrie serves students in grades 4-5 and builds upon the Cosmic Education that was started in the Lower Elementary program. Children are given freedom to choose their work and are supported in making responsible choices that allow them to fulfill their academic requirements.
A Typical Day of Learning
Upper Elementary students study mathematics, humanities (reading, language arts, and cultural studies), science, geography, art, music, and physical education. Throughout the year, the students are immersed in cross-curricular units of study that are relevant and hands-on. In these classes, students are reading and analyzing a variety of genres (nonfiction, fiction, poetry, etc.), writing essays, self-guided and teacher-directed research/projects, experiments in science and geography, Montessori language work, biological and physical studies in science, and mathematical concepts with and without Montessori materials. Students are able to work independently, with a partner, in small groups, and with the teacher. Teachers provide lessons that provoke thinking and involve students in topic-focused discussions that will lead to follow-up work, and perhaps a self-directed study of a topic of interest.
In the Upper Elementary, learning outside of the classroom is an essential part of the educational experience at Barrie. We invite guests to speak and/or present about topics being studied. The students also attend multiple, cross-curricular field trips each trimester that correspond with a unit of study.
Previous trips include:
- Echo Hill- camping trips and outdoor educational studies of the Chesapeake Bay
- archaeological digs
- Eco Adventure - hands on study of animals and habitats.
- outdoor studies/national parks ( not including Echo Hill)
- cultural events/festivals
- Annapolis- Maryland history and government
- historical/ cultural sites that support units of study
The Upper Elementary experience is further enhanced by the Going Out Program. The Going Out experience is an essential element of the Montessori program and is very different from a traditional field trip. The children go out in small groups as an extension of their research and to gain experiences in the world outside the classroom. The children develop independence, resourcefulness, and self-confidence through functioning capably in the larger world without adult assistance.
The outdoor education program for the Lower School includes both a vibrant, STEAM education aspect at AstroCamp School in Virginia and an environmental education aspect at Echo Hill Outdoor Environment School in Maryland.
Both programs provide opportunities for children to develop skills that help with their personal sense of responsibility, independence, initiative, communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and risk taking. Both programs place the students in a friendly, safe environment with strong adult leadership and supervision where students develop their non-cognitive skills so necessary for success in higher education and their future work environments. Together, these programs provide a single and complementary outdoor education curriculum.
Echo Hill visits the Barrie School campus each year to work with Lower Elementary (grades 1-3). An outdoor program with Echo Hill's naturalists and its well-developed science and ecology curriculum, guides our students to understand, appreciate, and make personal connections with the unique environmental resources of the Barrie Campus. As students smell, touch, see, hear, and taste to learn, abstract concepts become real, tangible, and visible. Students learn to observe, incorporate previous knowledge, formulate questions, and draw conclusions. Activities include individual and group initiatives aimed at building and enhancing confidence, self-esteem, and cooperation. There is no cost to parents for the Echo Hill visits on campus.
We are working with Echo Hill to offer a rich program with a different environmental focus each year for the Barrie campus. With gratitude and appreciation for all that Echo Hill provides to our students and teachers, we are hopeful to continue this beneficial relationship for many years.
Over the course of two years, grades 4 and 5 students will have participated in two outdoor education overnight trips. One year students attend a two-night/three-day trip to AstroCamp School in Virginia, and the following year they attend a two-night/three-day trip to Echo Hill Environmental Education School on Maryland's Eastern Shore. The residential cost of these trips is billed to the family of each attendee.
- AstroCamp School in Virginia is an experiential overnight science program that focuses globally on Earth and Physical Science, Astronomy, and Space Exploration. The classes are taught in state-of-the-art labs, offering dynamic hands-on experiences with scientific apparatus to stimulate curiosity and allow the students to have fun with science, technology, engineering, and math. Upper Elementary classes are led by skilled instructors, all scientists with a minimum of a bachelor's degree and many with advanced degrees. AstroCamp School/Virginia is located on 406 acres of rolling green hills in Clover, Virginia. For additional information, visit their website.
- Echo Hill Outdoor Environment School/MD is an experiential overnight science and ecology program that focuses on learning about and protecting our region's environmental resources. Its naturalists use Echo Hill's 242 acres of forests, meadows, freshwater shrub swamp and sandy beach on the Chesapeake Bay, inviting a wide variety of environmental studies. Our students explore the forest, meadows, ponds, streams, swamps, marshes, beaches, fields, and the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. Whether winding their way through the swamp or investigating the Bay's ecosystem on one of the 40-foot lab boats, the students are closely supervised by teachers fully qualified in experiential education. For additional information, visit their website.
- Primary: The Primary (Ages 3-6) physical education program uses movement exploration, fundamental motor skills, and basic movement patterns to form the foundation of the program. Children jump, skip, catch, run, and play games with the goal of developing body and spatial awareness. As they enter Kindergarten, there is more emphasis on cooperative games, participatory creative movement activities, following directions, and sportsmanship. The Primary classes are taught by the Barrie Montessori P.E. teacher.
- Lower Elementary: The Lower Elementary (Grades 1-3) program emphasizes the development of fundamental motor skills, such as throwing, catching, and kicking. Students explore different ways to improve physical fitness through climbing, stamina development, and strength activities. They also are introduced to simple sports and group games such as kickball, soccer, capture the flag, and Red Rover. All of these activities, in turn, emphasize the necessity of developing sportsmanship. The Lower Elementary classes are taught by the Barrie Montessori P.E. teacher.
- Upper Elementary: The Upper Elementary (Grades 4-5) program places an increased emphasis on activities that require higher-level thinking skills. There is increased participation in team sports that have rules, positioning, and strategy. Students build an awareness of physical fitness and how exercise improves the functioning of the body. Along with physical education classes, students participate Intramurals, which are designed to help students understand the responsibilities of being part of a team and how to handle themselves in competitive situations.
Barrie offers intentional developmental learning environments for children ranging from 12 months-Grade 5. At the core of Montessori's educational philosophy is the well-known understanding of the child as a spiritual being. At Barrie this idea is also reflected in our core values as an extraordinary environment for learning.
Respect for self, others, and the environment is one of our core values demonstrated throughout the spiritual development that is nurtured on our campus. Having values at the institutional level that emphasizes these core aspects of grace and courtesy allows us to effectively address the developmental and spiritual needs and motivations of both the child and the adult.
Each learning community, from the youngest toddler classrooms to the oldest classroom communities reflect an overall understanding of the four planes of development and intrinsic spiritual needs of students.
Peace and Mindfulness Education
Peace Education: Peace education in the Lower School emphasizes inner awareness, grace, and courtesy. These social skills help them as they navigate their world and social interactions.
As a school, we understand that students at all ages are ultimately moving along a path towards self-construction. Each year, Barrie teachers participate in Positive Discipline training and are expected to utilize positive discipline in their class and share best practices, reflections, and lessons learned with other faculty, parents and the broader community. Our school also participates in a yearly, campus-wide celebration of International Peace Day. We emphasize the need for peace throughout the world and highlight the responsibilities of each individual in achieving and maintaining peace within ourselves and at a global level.
Mindfulness Education: The Lower School's Mindfulness Program is an extension of its core values. Mindfulness can be a powerful tool which enhances cognitive, emotional, and behavioral well-being for students as well as adults.
Barrie teachers actively incorporate a variety of mindfulness activities within their daily classroom routines. Circle time often sets the stage for appreciations, self-reflection, deep breathing and visualization exercises with Lower and Upper Elementary students. Primary students may read a mindfulness children’s book or practice mindful eating or the silence game during circle. The latter, are a few examples of how mindfulness and spiritual development are illustrated through day to day actions, words, and deeds.
Mindfulness education extends outside of the classroom as well. Each child at our school is offered age-appropriate opportunities to engage our 45-acres of land. Toddler students go on daily nature walks throughout campus. Primary students can often be found walking to observe the pond and the abundance of life found along the way. Elementary students may be found building shelters, hiking, and creating landforms in the creek as cultural extension work. Upper Elementary students may care for gardens, monarch stations, and create spaces for art and reflection on campus. All of these nature based lessons allow our students to fully engage their senses while gaining a greater appreciation for the world and their place in it.
Our care of the child should be governed, not by the desire 'to make him learn things,’ but by the endeavor always to keep burning within him that light which is called the intelligence.
Dr. Maria Montessori
We look forward to showing you around your child’s future school, and helping you discover the life-changing value of a great Montessori education.