Academics at AIMS

A Montessori education is different. We focus on preparing children for life with an emphasis on knowledge, problem-solving, and creative thinking. Children who study at AIMS are heavily represented in gifted programs, on sports teams and other extracurricular activities. Many have been accepted into competitive independent schools, and many shine in our area's highly rated public schools.

Globally, those who have benefitted from a Montessori education are part of a long tradition. They can be found excelling in many fields, especially those calling for creativity and inventiveness. (The founders of Google, Amazon, and Wikipedia, for starters.)  

"The former Montessori students here are shining is a breath of fresh air to get these students because they are well-developed socially, academically and emotionally." 

 -Lisa Crowley, Guidance Counselor, Fernandina Beach Middle School

Toddler program

It is impossible not to smile when you see our toddlers. These young learners begin their journey and thrive in an environment that provides the love, understanding, and empathy they need along with the information, logicial limits, and support they will use to grow.

Toddlers are in what Maria Montessori termed the first plane of development, where they learn through their senses and their young minds absorb more than the thirstiest sponge! Modern research confirms that the first five years of life are unique in this aspect of brain development, and our program provides a happy, stimulating, well-planned environment and guidance to make the most of them.

9:05 am. The children are settling in, putting their coats and bags in their cubbies, and choosing an indoor or outdoor work. ('Work' in Montessori refers to the learning activities children do, which may look very much like play to your eyes, but is carefully set up and structured for their needs.)

10:00 am An older toddler is helping a younger one prepare a snack, spreading butter on bread with special safe tools. Even at this young age, children are able to and do prepare their own snacks with guidance from their teachers, who also help them learn how to clean up afterward.

10:45 am Circle time. Children sit 'criss-cross applesauce' and are listening to 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar,' since they spied several of the small creatures in their garden this morning. Those who have trouble sitting still are gently redirected outside with a teacher or to another work.

Nature walks, music, cooking demonstrations, gardening and food tasting are all part of the menu of activities. Sometimes special guests come and talk to the toddlers about their work (a helicopter pilot was a recent guest) or to show them a special animal or plant.

Our Toddler Program is for children 18 months to three years of age, five days per week, from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm for the morning session. We also offer a full day program that runs until 3:00 as well as extended care options, beginning at 7:30 am and running until 6:00 pm.

Primary programs

The education of even a small child, therefore, does not aim at preparing him for school, but for life. - Maria Montessori

Mixed age classrooms that introduce the fundamentals of reading, mathematics, science lay the foundations of critical thinking and citizenship. A combination of classroom work with Montessori materials, outdoor exploration and experiments, and enrichment through the arts provides a deeply holistic experience for children ages 3 (potty-trained) to 6.

For Primary students, ages 3 to 6, every day feels like Independence Day. Dressing themselves, striding to their classrooms, greeting their teachers, they practice the skills of self-sufficiency.

These students are in what Maria Montessori termed the first plane of development, where they explore the world through their senses, absorbing all that is around them and blossoming in cheerfully outfitted spaces with interesting materials.

A Primary Morning:

9:15 Children settle in and start choosing their 'work' (in a Montessori classroom, this means a learning activity that is fun, not a chore!) from what has been carefully prepared by their teachers. This work introduces children the world of learning - subject areas include Practical Life Skills, Language, Mathematics, Geography, History, Natural Science, Social Science, Art and Music.

10:00 A group of children goes outside to water the plants and check on the butterfly habitat that had a cocoon in it yesterday.

10:45 it is circle time; the class listens to a story and the children talk about the rules of the classroom.

11:00 An art project is underway while other children prepare and share a snack.Some days bring music or Spanish lessons.  

12:00 The morning-only students leave for the day, then the remaining children eat lunch, play outdoors, and continue their classroom work until afternoon dismissal.

Children enrolling in the Primary program must be 3 years of age by September of the school year. We also offer *VPK for children who are 4 years old as of September 1st and Kindergarten options for 5 year olds. The Primary program is offered in half day (9-12) or full day (9-3) sessions and before and after school care is also available.

*The 540 VPK hours are from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. for 135 days.  

Lower Elementary

"There is a great sense of community within the Montessori classroom, where children of differing ages work together in an atmosphere of cooperation rather than competitiveness. There is respect for the environment and for the individuals within it, which comes through experience of freedom within the community." - Maria Montessori

Adults who visit our Lower Elementary environments are often surprised to see a space that seems a lot like the type of modern, creative office they'd like to work in: lots of natural light, soft music in the background, ample room for work independently or in groups, and an overview of the day's objectives. Not to mention a full kitchen where hot lunch can be prepared!

These students have entered the phase Maria Montessori termed the second plane of development, where they have gained new powers of imagination along with the ability to think in a more reasoned and abstract way. They learn through doing, through trial and error, by experiencing how and why things function the way that they do, and that is the basis for their work.

Each year of the Lower Elementary three-year cycle, students explore a variety of courses, concentrating on math, science, language, technology and the interdisciplinary studies of art, music, dance, drama, and physical education. Here is a look at what happens on a typcial day.

9:15 Morning circle where the class gathers to read the day's schedule and hear any morning announcements. Students fill

out their work record with ongoing work to complete and the lessons for the day. 

10:30 The work cycle is underway. Children are free to use the outdoor space to work as well as gardening projects on particular days. The library is available to children when they have exhausted the classroom books.  

2:00 Finishing up reading aloud (done daily) and Spanish lessons, students get ready to go outside for Physical Education. During the morning work period, a few students help to prepare, present and clean-up snack for the class.  

Upper Elementary

Maria Montessori called this phase of development "cosmic education" - a curriculum that teaches the grand interconnectedness of all things in the universe. 

The Upper Elementary students are ready to see and understand this interconnectedness, as they develop their independence, expand their ability to concentrate and follow a work plan. Students are urged to “think globally, act locally” by participating in community service projects that they research and choose.

A Day in the Life of Upper Elementary

9:10 The Morning meeting covers rules for a new set of tools that will be used to understand scientific principles. The plan for the day is set out and students discuss how they will choose their Student Council for this year. At this level, teachers require students to evaluate information and seek out different opinions and facts before making decisions, helping students develop logic. 

10:15 Two students work together on a special project about the civilizations of the Ancient world. By focusing on a variety of civilizations, they begin to understand how the past has shaped present-day societies, geographies, and current events. Upper Elementary students are allowed to delve into these subjects through challenging guided activities and independent research. This leads them to be ready and eager to have an impact on their surroundings. 

11:00 A group of students prepares a shopping list and a budget for the week's lunches.

1:15 A student receives a lesson on algebra. Another is still working through a challenging math problem on her own. Upper Elementary children are allowed to struggle with difficult work, recognizing and enjoying the rewards such struggle brings - and learning persistence. 

Middle school

The child who has felt a strong love for his surroundings and for all living creatures, who has discovered joy and enthusiasm in work, gives us reason to hope that humanity can develop in a new direction. 

- Maria Montessori

The newest addition to Amelia Island Montessori's program offerings, our Middle School serves students in grades 6 through 8.  How to live in community, to learn independently, to think constructively and creatively: These are the lessons of the Montessori classroom that remain with its students as they make their way in the world.

In these formative years, students are learning to be people of integrity, to mind their civic duty and to respect their environments, to navigate peer pressure. Most importantly, they learn that critical thinking and creativity need not stop in the classroom, but extends into adulthood.

Small class sizes mean greater rapport with staff, chances to work individually with positive guidance, and an environment that is individualized.

Article: Montessori a Growing Trend for Middle Schools