“It is possible to see a clear analogy between the Shepherd in the Church and that of the prudent and generous educator in the Montessori method, who with tenderness, with love and with a wise evaluation of gifts, knows how to discover and bring to light the most hidden virtues and capacities of the child.” Saint Pope John XXIII
In order to bring to light the hidden virtues and capacities of the child, Siena Academy offers a curriculum based upon the divinely ordained laws of human development observed and articulated by Dr. Maria Montessori – a Catholic doctor, scientist, and educator who worked with children around the world in the early twentieth century.
Dr. Montessori observed that children are born with an intrinsic motivation to learn and develop through their own self-directed activity. Through spontaneous and purposeful activity, the young child explores his environment and begins to learn about the world into which he has been born. From birth to age six, the child possesses a remarkably absorbent mind, which is able to “absorb” information from the environment without conscious effort. Learning is spontaneous and natural.
A child’s great work is to create the person he will become. In order to do this, he needs to have the freedom to respond to his natural impulses to move, explore, and discover. Montessori education is a means of fostering and supporting this natural process of human development.
Through focused and meaningful work in a thoughtfully prepared environment, the child is able to develop his will and intellect in accordance with the laws of human development written into his being. His flourishing will be evident in his joyful disposition and positive relationships with adults and peers.
Dr. Montessori, like Thomas Aquinas, noted that we learn through our senses. The Montessori materials are designed to offer children opportunities to learn through interaction with tactile materials that make use of all five senses. Concepts are introduced beginning with the concrete and then moving towards the abstract.
One of Dr. Montessori’s greatest discoveries was that humans pass through distinct Planes of Development that occur in approximately six-year intervals. In order to best meet the needs of children in each plane, the environments are adapted accordingly and children are grouped in classes by plane of development rather than by age.
In order to nourish the spiritual life of the child, The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program is the heart of our school. This approach to catechesis was developed by scripture scholar Sofia Cavaletti through decades of work with children. Building upon the work begun by Dr. Montessori in the area of spiritual development, Sofia continued to develop materials and presentations rooted in the Bible and the Liturgy. The children cherish their time to work and pray in the Atrium, which is named after the entryway of the early churches that also served as a place of catechesis for those not yet initiated into the Church. In a similar way, the Atrium in our school serves to prepare children for full participation in the life of the Church that is rooted in a personal relationship with Our Lord.
Siena Academy was founded to bring about the full integration of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd within a Montessori school in order to make manifest Dr. Montessori’s complete vision to truly educate the whole child with respect to his spiritual and developmental needs.