South Orange Country Day School follows the core philosophy of Dr. Maria Montessori. Dr. Montessori was the first educator that examined how children learn, instead of how teachers can teach better. At SOCDS we start with each child and their learning preferences, and then we develop tools and activities that best meet the needs of that child. We promote a love of learning that emphasizes self-discipline, confidence and independence through the use of self directed centers. Our students use every day materials (tweezers, rolling pins, dust pans, cups and saucers) to practice life skills. We use a variety activities to practice phonics and mathematical concepts. We are different than a traditional Montessori program on two main dimensions: curriculum and instructional methods. In our classrooms the teachers choose the objectives they want the children to practice and then create unique learning centers that will appeal to the student’s senses and interests. This ensures that each learning objective is explored and learned using a variety of tactics that will appeal to many different learning preferences and styles. We do not use one tool to help learn an objective, instead we use multiple tactics and centers to provide students with the best experience for learning. Our instructional methods include large and small group instruction, as well as self directed center work. We feel that children do need to practice listening for directions and, more importantly, how to ask for clarification in a larger group experience. We also feel that children need to learn to wait their turn to speak and to hold their thoughts while other individuals are speaking.