Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Montessori philosophy of education in a nutshell?
Maria Montessori believed that children are self motivated learners who, given the appropriate environment and encouragement, will actively engage in activities that meet their developmental needs. The primary goal of a Montessori program is to help each child reach their fullest potential in all areas of life and to create a secure, loving and joyful learning environment. See our Montessori Approach for more details.
How does Little Star accommodate students of different learning abilities?
Little Star offers an environment that allows a child to work at his/her own level. We understand that children develop according to their own schedules and that they are drawn to work that they are developmentally ready for. We watch carefully for these stages of development (Dr. Montessori called them “sensitive periods”) and offer prepared lessons and materials which encourage exploration and growth. In our experience, children who are behind catch up if allowed to develop without pressure and worry. Of course, when we have concerns about a child’s development, we initiate conversation with her or his parents and help in finding supportive services if needed. Children who are working at an advanced level never run out of challenging work in a Montessori environment, as our classrooms and materials offer increasing levels of challenge.
What are the benefits of the Little Star Kindergarten Program?
The Kindergarten Program is the capstone of the students’ Montessori experience at Little Star and the culmination of the three-year Early Childhood Program. Everything that the children have learned up to this point falls into place during the kindergarten year. Benefits include:
Strong relationships with the teachers
Small teacher to child ratio
Mixed age groups offering children leadership roles
Learning is based on each child’s interests, and our materials offer opportunities for a variety of learning styles
Our peace education supports healthy behavior management and personal accountability.
How does Little Star prepare students for elementary school?
Little Star gives children the tools to be engaged, self motivated and independent learners that can adapt to any new learning environment. Our classrooms encourage deep understanding of the concepts behind academic skills, and prepare students with a strong foundation for a lifetime of learning. Little Star also utilizes the Washington State Common Core Standards to prepare children for elementary school, and meets regularly with the first and second grade Methow Valley School District teachers to ensure there is a smooth transition for our children. Children leave Little Star with experience in problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration and respectful communication.
What enrichment programs does Little Star include for students?
Enrichment opportunities include cooking, music, art, yoga, movement, gymnastics and Spanish. We regularly bring in guest teachers and speakers for our enrichment programs, and also take field trips to local areas of interest such as the fish hatchery and veterinary clinic (Winthrop Campus) and the Methow Valley Interpretive Center and TwispWorks splash pad (Twisp Campus). Parents are often sources of new and enriching experiences for our classrooms, which builds community both within Little Star and the greater Methow Valley.
How does Little Star ensure quality teachers?
Little Star believes our teachers have the most important job in the world, and focuses on quality instruction in the following ways:
Little Star teachers are carefully hired and receive ample professional training in the Montessori teaching philosophy, child development and positive discipline techniques and strategies.
Little Star has a Montessori mentor and consultant who supports and trains our teachers, spends time in each of the classrooms, provides professional development workshops and more. Each teacher also works with the Program Director to set goals, develop annual performance plans and participate in 3-month performance reviews.
Many of our teachers have a Montessori teaching certificate and all of our teachers receive Montessori Training annually.
All of the teachers have their CPR and First Aid certification and are trained in emergency procedures and child safety.
Little Star meets regularly with partner organizations, including Room One and the Methow Valley School District to share resources and training opportunities and to support one another.
Teachers also receive support and enrichment from a strong community of colleagues and parent volunteers.
How does Little Star handle discipline?
Little Star follows the Positive Discipline Parenting and Classroom Management model which is aimed at developing mutually respectful relationships. The idea behind the Positive Discipline philosophy is that children do better when they feel better. The tools and concepts of Positive Discipline include:
Mutual respect. Adults model firmness by respecting themselves and the needs of the situation, and kindness by respecting the needs of the child.
Identifying the belief behind the behavior. Effective discipline recognizes the reasons kids do what they do and works to change those beliefs, rather than merely attempting to change behavior.
Effective communication and problem solving skills.
Discipline that teaches (and is neither permissive nor punitive).
Focusing on solutions instead of punishment.
Encouragement (instead of praise). Encouragement notices effort and improvement, not just success, and builds long term self esteem and empowerment.
Why does Little Star charge tuition?
Little Star strives to ensure that every family who wishes to attend Little Star can do so. We must charge tuition because there is no public option for early childhood education like there is for k-12 programs. However, our board of directors sets tuition rates at about 80 percent of our operating cost to keep costs as affordable as possible for families (we cover the rest of our costs via community fundraising). We also provide financial aid to families in need and accept Washington State DSHS payments. For more information, please see Why does Little Star charge tuition?
Tuition helps pay for an incredibly rich and joyful learning environment for children that includes low teacher to student ratios with skilled professional early childhood teachers, high quality Montessori classroom materials, and top-notch facilities with welcoming classrooms and expansive indoor and outdoor play spaces. Research continues to demonstrate that high quality infant through early childhood education programs produce profound developmental, health and economic benefits for children and their families. With this in mind, early childhood education is clearly a sound investment in our children’s future.
Why does Little Star have to fundraise?
Fundraising is critical to the success of our school. It helps us keep tuition as affordable as possible (see above), it funds our financial aid program, and it makes sure that students have access to high quality classroom materials and teachers are well trained and have opportunities for continuing professional development. If you’d like make a contribution to help our students, please give online or contact executive director Dani Reynaud at email@example.com or 509-996-2801.
Does Little Star have a financial aid program?
Yes! We understand and appreciate the financial commitment families undertake to send their children to Little Star. Each year we work very hard to raise funds to assist families in financial need. Financial aid awards typically ranges from 10 percent to 70 percent of annual tuition, depending on need. As a general guideline, if your family makes less than $65,000 per year (for a family of four) you likely qualify for financial assistance. We understand that there are many factors beyond income that determine need, so don’t hesitate to contact us if you are in need of assistance but your income falls above that level. If you have any questions about our financial aid program, please contact associate director Brad Halm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 509-996-2801.
Why are parent volunteer hours part of the Little Star experience?
We believe it takes a village to love, support, and grow great kids and our parents are our partners in teaching and learning. In an effort to both build community and help keep tuition costs down, we ask parents to volunteer 20 hours per year, per family at Little Star. Volunteer opportunities range from assisting with fundraising to grounds maintenance, helping with office and administrative tasks and helping in the classroom.
If you’re looking for ways to volunteer:
Stop by the office bulletin board or visit the volunteer page for more information.
Check out the weekly Star Notes email for updated task lists. There is never a shortage of tasks to complete.
Other volunteer opportunities at Little Star are listed at Volunteer Methow.
What should I bring for snack?
For some of our programs, parents are asked to bring snack for all the students in their child’s class about once a month. Here are some ideas from our parent community:
Bagels with cream cheese and sliced fruit
Pretzels, cream cheese and grapes
Ritz crackers, sliced cheese or salami and sliced apples
Muffins, sliced cheese and apples
Ham or turkey rolled with cream cheese, pickles
Small peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and sliced fruit
Cheese quesadillas and carrot sticks
Popcorn, salami and yogurt
Rice crackers with cream cheese or nut butter and carrot sticks
Cooked pasta with grated cheese and sliced fruit
Crackers, sunflower seeds or almonds and bananas.
I hear Little Star is full and hard to get into. Is that true?
Our programs do fill quickly but please contact us if you are in need of care and education for your little one! Our enrollment changes frequently and we accept new students on a rolling basis as spaces open. Typically, open enrollment for our school year programs (September–June) and year-round programs happens in late February, and for our summer programs in early March. Please see the Register page for more information.