Happiness. One word that has come to mean so much during a year of living through a pandemic. And, now, never more appreciated when it comes to our kids and their education.
We all pretty much know what children look, act, and sound like when they are happy at school, and when they are not. For many, the shift in how our children go to school and learn during COVID-19 has shone a huge spotlight on the importance of mental health and social-emotional learning in a school environment.
But what effect does happiness have on a child’s ability to learn and on his or her academic achievement? It turns out, a big one. Children learn better when they are happy, and a Harvard Graduate School of Education study proves just that, finding that “happiness is positively correlated with motivation and academic success.”
Education pioneer, Dr. Maria Montessori, whose philosophy is the educational foundation of The Village School in Waldwick, New Jersey seemed to also recognize the importance of happiness when she began developing her educational ideology in the early 1900’s.
In fact, an article entitled “Manipulating Happiness: Maria Montessori” in the International Journal of Wellbeing, refers to Dr. Montessori as one of history’s great “happiness-enablers.”
Why so? Well, one reason is that the Montessori method is often referred to as “joyful learning.” And, isn’t that something we all want for our kids, regardless of their age? Imagine what a different place the world would be if everything we learned was a joyful experience.
What is it about Montessori education that makes it joyful? It is believed that some tenets of this method such as individualized, child-led learning that encourages passion and exploration, materials that appeal to hands-on learning, and a focus on process and discovery that leads to a life-long love of learning makes students independent, curious, and happy learners.
“My kids are so happy to go to school every day” is a sentiment you will hear over and over again if you spend any time with Village School parents.
“We have been at The Village School for almost nine years now -- since my child was two years old. And, a big reason that has kept us here is because she is so happy. My daughter lives for going to school. No exaggeration, for years on the last day of school before summer break, she would cry hysterically because she had to leave her teachers and The Village School for three months of vacation.” -- Village School Parent
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The Village School has kept that kind of happiness going for its students throughout the COVID-19 pandemic whether it be on campus or remotely.
With top health and safety protocols in place, minimal closures, a specialized and robust remote-learning track, and a focus on the whole-child learning, students have maintained a strong continuity of education, a high level of academics, and the opportunity to continue and grow their relationships with friends and teachers.
The special relationships between students and teachers at The Village School stand out due to the small student to teacher ratio, and also because of something that is uniquely Montessori.
In a Montessori multi-age classroom, a class becomes a family. Students stay with the same teachers for a three-year span or for the course of a program level. Because of this type of classroom environment, teachers really get to know their students and the students grow to take on different leadership roles.
A special teacher-student bond is something that we often never forget and a feeling that we know in our hearts. Surprisingly, it is also backed up by research in the Harvard study mentioned earlier.
Study author, Christine Hinton, found that “a network of supportive relationships is at the heart of happiness” in school and says in the study that, “If schools want to support student well being and achievement, they should take seriously nurturing positive relationships among teachers and students.” This is something that happens from the moment you connect with a Village School teacher.
So, the secret to educational happiness may not be such a mystery after all. And, it may be only a short distance away at a place called The Village School. Come visit and see what The Village School happiness difference is all about. #thevillageschooldifference
Reserve Now For Your In-Person Open House Tour for 2021-2022 School Year
Tuesday, May 4th, and Wednesday, May 5th
*Open to four families per visit
Monday, May 10th, and Thursday, May 13th