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Advertiser Three Tree Montessori School Holding Open House Nov. 17

Advertiser Three Tree Montessori School invites you to mark your calendars to schedule a visit – they’re holding an Open House on Saturday, Nov. 17 from 10 a.m. – Noon.

View the beautiful classrooms, gardens and playgrounds, and learn about Montessori programs for children ages one through twelve.

The School is located in Burien at 220 SW 160th, near Sylvester Middle School. More info at their website here.

Have you driven down SW 160th Street and wondered what was going on behind those whimsical columns? That warm ochre and brick colored building is the home of the Three Tree Montessori School. Profiled in the Harvard University video shown here (http://youtu.be/efCq_vHUMqs), this school was recently documented by the Department of Early Learning for use in training early educators, and is notably one of only two fully recognized Association Montessori Internationale (http://www.amiusa.org/) Schools in the state of Washington. What’s more, it is a vibrant non-profit community that is dedicated to the specific needs of every student, guiding each child to be inspired by their own curiosity.

AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) recognition is considered by many to be the gold standard of Montessori schools, but choosing any school for your child can be overwhelming. There are so many possibilities (public, private, conventional, or alternative). It is arguably one of the most difficult decisions that you will make for your child. To help with the decision process Three Tree Montessori School provides relaxing tours to inquiring families. They answer questions, offer resources, and (surprisingly) encourage visitors to visit other local schools, as well as their own.

What makes Three Tree Montessori School different from conventional schools is its commitment to the founding principles of Maria Montessori. Montessori is a traditional (since 1907 in Europe, and the mid-50s in the US) holistic education approach, designed to nurture the whole child. AMI Montessori programs focus on each child’s potential, providing hands-on experiences that nurture the love of learning. It emphasizes collaboration, self-expression, and self-motivation in a beautifully prepared environment which fosters respect, peace, joy and learning for life.

To give you an idea of what Three Tree Montessori School is like, here’s a slideshow of photos:

We spent time viewing Three Tree’s students at work. It wasn’t like any classroom we knew of, being products of public school, but it was fascinating and worth explaining to our readers who are interested in public school alternatives.

The Toddler environments are charming to see, with two classrooms for ages 1½ to 2½ years old. Both environments are designed with toddler sized furniture, tools and instruments made of beautiful natural materials. With tiny working toddler sized toilets, wee little sinks, and a child’s garden with miniature hand tools. It was clear that each item had been thoughtfully placed for the success of every child. The rooms are conceived as an extension of the home, designed to meet the needs of each child and to foster independence, motor coordination and language acquisition. This is where young children experience their first structured contact with other children. We observed tea parties, biscuit-baking, painting and sweeping all performed with age appropriate tools.

Next we were off to the Primary Program for ages 2 ½ – 6. We observed one of four primary classes. There is a teacher, an assistant, and a support staff. One of the basic tenets of Montessori theory is the multi-age classroom. Here students learn practical life, sensorial, cultural, math, language activities and of course, outdoor play. The materials, here too, are beautiful and hands on. Observation, experimentation, and kinesthetic learning are basic building blocks in the Montessori world. There isn’t a desk in sight; instead there are chairs, bookshelves, and tables that are sized appropriately. Some of the children were using floor mats and others worked standing up, or took their work to a table in the adjoining garden. Some were studying math and geography. They worked in groups or individually, with the older students mentoring the younger. There are no bells here, just a peaceful hum as they were busily engaged at their own pace.

Finally we were welcomed into one of the two Elementary classrooms. Yes, welcomed. Two girls (class greeters) welcomed us and offered tea. There are two Elementary classrooms at Three Tree Montessori School. The Lower Elementary Classroom serves ages 6 – 9, and the upper Elementary serves children ages 9 – 12. Students were working in small groups. Elementary children are encouraged to explore their questioning minds and their imaginations. The ability to reason is at its greatest capacity in the child of this age. The elementary classroom is designed to be the stepping-off point into the universe. The study of language includes writing, reading and oral expression. Math includes arithmetic, geometry and algebra (and we’re talking little kids learning this stuff!). Once again, all this learning is done in a variety of classroom areas on the floor, in the garden, or at tables.

After our tours of the classrooms were complete, we toured the gardens. Outdoor education is as important as indoor education at Three Tree Montessori School. Each age group has a spacious garden area planted just outside the classroom. We saw tidying, watering, and harvesting.

Service to the earth and community are also priorities at this Washington Green School. Over the years, the children of Elementary have raised money for a Montessori school in Kenya, worked on ridding invasive species in the Duwamish Greenbelt, organized food drives for Northwest Harvest and holiday gift drives for the non-profit organization Baby Boutique, participated in the Burien Clean Sweep, and held a clothing drive for a local family who lost all their belongings in a fire.

Three Tree Montessori School is a board run, non-profit school that has been steadily growing since 2003. It offers an impressively diverse student and teacher population. They work to keep classrooms balanced (with age, gender, ethnicity, ability, & personality). There are 148 students at the school with room for more.

For more information about Three Tree Montessori School, please contact the school office at (206) 242-5100 or visit their website.

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