Delmarva’s newest learning center is set to open its doors in only three weeks. The Coastal Early Learning Center (CELC) is conveniently located at the corner of Flower Street and Seahawk Road in Berlin, MD right behind the Stephen Decatur Middle School. What sets this learning center apart from others is that the CELC will be teaching Montessori methods.
What are the Montessori learning methods, you ask? Director and Owner, Carrie Coots, explains to us that Montessori teaching is a very hands-on approach to teaching. Montessori teaching really encourages young minds to learn using all of their senses. For example, the CELC uses sandpaper numbers and letters when teaching their students the alphabet. Since the numbers and letters are made of sandpaper, the children can easily feel the shape and contour of each and apply that particular sense of learning to complete the process. The main goal of Montessori teaching is to teach each student how to apply as many senses as possible to each field of learning.
The Montessori teaching method was designed over a century ago by Italian physician and educator, Dr. Marie Montessori. During the early 1900’s, Dr. Montessori had the opportunity to open a childcare center in Rome. During her tenure at Casa dei Bambini, what would soon become the first ever Montessori learning facility, Dr. Montessori observed how the students absorbed knowledge from their surroundings and essentially taught themselves. Dr. Montessori then created learning materials and a classroom environment that fostered the children’s natural desire to learn. News of her success spread through Italy and only a few years later, Montessori learning centers were acclaimed worldwide.
Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment. ~ Dr. Maria Montessori
Coots learned these same methods from her own family. Her aunt and uncle opened a Montessori school in Houston, TX in 1975. They were later followed by Coots’ parents who, after working for years in the public education system, opened their own Montessori school in 1998. After graduating from Oklahoma State University, Coots moved to Houston to work with her family as a teacher and business manager. Coots has earned her certification through the American Montessori Society. In 2003, Coots accepted a position at the Julia Brown Montessori Schools in Silver Spring, MD. “I always knew that I wanted to open my own Montessori center, I just didn’t know where,” Coots told us when we asked how it is that she landed in our neck of the woods. “After researching my options, I realized that the opportunity was right here on the Eastern Shore.”
In an effort to grow her roots, Coots began working in the hospitality industry to learn more about the area and to meet the people who call this wonderful place home. Coots mentioned that she really loved her time working in food and beverage, but then the amazing happened. Coots had a child of her own and she soon found that working 80 hours each week was not conducive for the family life she wanted. So, then began the adventure of building the learning center that she had been dreaming of for so long.
“Montessori truly is a different approach to learning. It’s a different approach to education. The most critical time to teach lifelong processes is during those beginning years from birth to age six,” commented Coots. “The CELC is so much more than a daycare. It truly is a child-centered learning experience. Everyone learns in their own way and at their own pace. The teaching methods that we use here at CELC really are a progression to advance and build onto the next task.”
Because Montessori education is new to us, we asked Coots what is the biggest misconception of the Montessori learning method. “Religion. It is always thought that Montessori teaching methods are directly linked to religion and they are not at all connected. I think it may be because the word Monastery sounds so similar to Montessori, that’s where the confusion may lie. Montessori teaching methods are sensory based, learning about your environment using all of your senses and then applying those lessons to future learning.”
The CELC will be hosting open houses on Wednesday, August 31st and Thursday, September 1st from 9am-12pm and 3pm-6pm each day. We asked Coots what parents can expect when they attend an open house. “We will include a full tour of our facility and parents will have the opportunity to meet our teachers and staff. We will also have learning activities for the children. We are so excited to show the community and our parents the facility that we have developed for their children to learn. We also have to mention that we would not be able to open our doors in a few weeks if it weren’t for Pinpoint Consulting and Piney Island Construction. They have been working diligently to complete this project for us and we truly appreciate that. ”
Visit the CELC website to learn more about the school, their curriculum and to access admission & forms. The website includes a lot of helpful information and answers to questions that most parents have when choosing the best learning environment for their child.
Resources: American Montessori Society