A newly opened school is making the Montessori style of teaching available to more children in Westboro.
Rainbow Montessori School opened in its new Picton Avenue location on September 2. The school is located in the building that used to house the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama (OSSD), which closed earlier this year.
Rainbow Montessori offers programs for children aged three to six, as well as toddlers and infants. There are currently 26 students attending the school, which has the capacity for 30.
The school follows the Montessori method, in which teachers take a guidance approach to teaching rather than relying on a traditional lecture technique. The form of learning is hands on and self directed. The method requires specialized training to teach it, according to owner Shereen Gendron.
“We as teachers, present the materials, we sit back and watch the child learn on their own,” Gendron says. “Everything is self-learning. You can allow them to make mistakes.”
One of the keys to facilitating this style of learning is allowing kids the time to learn at their own pace, without feeling rushed to catch up to other children or fit into the schedules of the adults around them.
“At home we always rush,” says Gendron. “Here they have that time to learn with no pressure.”
Gendron says she believes this way of teaching is highly successful. Even the staff at the school say they have noticed benefits to the method.
“They’re so independent,” says Lynne Dunlap, an administrator at Rainbow Montessori School. “Eighteen-month-old kids can put their own shoes on,” she says.
Gendron has been offering this method to children and parents in Ottawa for fifteen years.
Rainbow Montessori School was first opened at Gendron’s home in Barrhaven in 1999.
Only two years after opening her school, Gendron had to move to accommodate changes in the number of students. Since then, the school has moved three more times.
At the end of the last school year, Gendron had the parents vote on the neighbourhood they wanted for the school’s new home. They chose Westboro, which is convenient for Gendron as she also lives in the neighbourhood.