The Montessori Elementary School of Bowling Green, located in a historic home in downtown Bowling Green, has offered a caring and nurturing environment for elementary students since 2012.
Their mission follows a child’s natural pace and the joy of learning by his or her capacity. Students in grades one through seven learn together in a shared space, follow an agenda through guided collaboration and are free to study and learn their preferences at their own pace.
With a small staff, including two assistants, a Chinese instructor and the director, Benedicte Bossut, the school is focused on the child’s progress in terms of successes, allowing learning obstacles to be removed through additional reviews and alternative lessons.
The Montessori educational approach was introduced and made popular by Dr. Maria Montessori and has been used for over 100 years to further the education of children with the understanding that they have a natural desire to learn about the world around them. The role of the adult in the classroom is to entice the child’s interests in many topics, to offer lessons that will engage the reasoning and imaginative capacities of the child and to guide the child to make decisions in choosing, practicing and creating from lessons available in and outside the classroom.
“The goal is not to have too many adults in the classroom at any time,” Bossut explained. “Because we want the children to rely on each other and to learn from each other, and that’s where the mixed age group allows for that. We don’t separate by grade, and that’s really key to the Montessori environment.”
The elementary Montessori school resides in a three-floor historic home on Main Avenue and provides a learning experience for six to 12 year olds. Shelves and cubbies are located throughout the building, with an assortment of learning tools and resources for the students.
“We want the room to be inviting and to say, ‘These are the lessons, and you should choose from them’ because it’s part of limiting the environment so the child knows where to go, to saying ‘You know, there is still a lot of empty spaces on the shelf. Your mind can ask more questions.’ ”
The school strives to encourage wonder, imagination and a love of learning for its students.
The rooms flow into one another and provide the students with an opportunity to converse and to learn and question freely.
“There is no stopping,” Bossut said. “There is not just exactly 45 minutes (to a class period). We don’t ask questions waiting for the answer. In this environment, you have various resources. If it’s not in the classroom, we can research outside. Let’s go outside, let’s learn more from the people who are really in the field.”
After-school programs and clubs are available to students, including knitting, dance, cooking, art, running and equestrian.
Graham, a fifth-grader, has been a student at the school for four years. He enjoys math and art and wants to be an artist when he grows up. Among his favorite activities at the school are playing the playground like an instrument at recess and, on a slightly gory note, dissecting a cow eye. He is active in the school’s equestrian and zine clubs, a creative language group.
“My favorite things about the Montessori are the independence and citizenship skills that the students learn,” Graham’s father, Todd, said of the school. “I also appreciate the amount of time spent on field trips, as well as the fact that there is no homework. Small group and individual lessons let students pursue their interests and learn how to work with others for a common goal.”
Bossut says the school’s main mission is to bring out the child’s love for learning by helping him or her discover the capacity for freedom and responsibility.
“Learning is self-discovery,” she said. “Education is self-construction in a guided environment. As the primary (three to six years old) environment supports the child toward autonomy and functional independence, the elementary Montessori (six to 12 years old) environment prepares the child’s intellect and fosters self-confidence in the learning process for life. Through insightful lessons, guided practices, collaborative and individual work, the child’s emotional, spiritual and intellectual needs are met. The child readies for the next stage of development—adolescence,” Bossut said.
The Montessori Elementary School of Bowling Green is a beautiful addition to learning in Warren County. With small class sizes and a focus on the needs of its students, the school brings the vision of Dr. Montessori to South Central Kentucky and the 21st-century.