Montessori classroom teachers are often referred to as “enlightened generalists” and are trained to guide children in all aspects of the curriculum. Each classroom environment has materials and lessons relating to both the core curriculum and specialty areas like art, music, physical movement, and foreign language.
Ruffing offers the following specialty classes, with frequency depending on the level of the child:
According to Dr. Montessori, one cannot “teach” a child to be an artist, but one can help the student develop “an eye that sees, a hand that obeys, a soul that feels.”
Ruffing’s Art program strives to be a positive and exciting experience for all students. The art curriculum is related to the major aims of contemporary art education: developing an informed appreciation for and a life-long interest in learning more about art, as well as using art as a means of self-expression.
The four interrelated disciplines form the basis of Art instruction at Ruffing: art appreciation, aesthetics, art criticism, and creative expression. Every student has the capacity and potential to develop creatively, and Ruffing’s experienced and nurturing art faculty embrace this philosophy.
Not only do students work on creative activities, but they also study art in relation to historical and cultural context and current artistic movements. Ruffing’s interdisciplinary approach connects art studies with the core curriculum each grade is studying, such that creative connections are made with students’ historical, science, language arts, math, and music studies. Students are encouraged to see things in new ways and to feel “awakened” through their problem solving. Overall, the program is designed to provide hands-on experiential learning.
Children love to be involved in all aspects of the music experience: playing instruments, singing, dancing, listening, and learning the significance music has historically and culturally. Ruffing Montessori's music program strives to expose students to the rich diversity of musical customs and history in America and cultures around the globe.
Ruffing students learn about music at each level by experiencing each aspect of the musical process. There are three philosophies and methodologies used in teaching music at Ruffing. They are integrated into lessons and used in a unified way to provide the children with maximum experience and information.
The Eurhythmics/Dalcroze Method guides students to experience the elements of music, such as rhythm and melody, through sequenced movements led by the teacher. This process helps separate beat from rhythm, allows students to feel phrasing and melody, and creates an atmosphere of musical independence and creative expression that is unique to each child. The class is set up so that students perceive and respond to variations in the music, thus internalizing relationships in the music. Their response is total: mind, body, ears, eyes, and feelings. These experiences lead to music reading and performing.
The Orff-Schulwerk Process involves the child's total musical experience: singing, speech, movement, instrument playing, drama, pitched and non-rhythmic, and melodic ostinati (repeated patterns). Each of these elements enhances musical concepts and helps children's creativity in facilitating improvisation and composition.
The Kodaly Method focuses on the melodic and rhythmic aspects of music making. The process relates to singing with solfege (do, re, mi, etc.), learning hand signals for the scale tones, ear training, sightseeing, part singing, and greater melodic awareness. It also uses syllables for speaking and analyzing the rhythms used in our music (ta=quarter note, etc.).
The emphasis in Ruffing’s physical education program is for every child to develop age-appropriate motor skills and to learn the life-skills of cooperation, team work, and good sportsmanship. Beginning with our youngest students in the Toddler Community and Children’s House, students participate in activities designed to develop coordination, balance, and locomotive skills. As students’ gross and fine motor skills mature, Ruffing introduces team sports, recreational and fitness activities in an inclusive and fun environment.
The goal of Ruffing’s program is to motivate every student to become active young citizens who participate in daily physical activity.
Students will participate in the following activities during their time at Ruffing:
- Flag Football
- Floor Hockey
- Jumping Rope
- Leisure Sports
- Nature Walks
- Net Games
- Obstacle Courses
- Organized Games/Activities
- Parachute Games
- Relay Races
- Rope Climbing
- Fitness Gram
In the Upper Elementary and Middle School, students have the opportunity to participate in a variety of team sports competing against other local independent schools, including Soccer, Basketball, Volleyball, and Ultimate Frisbee. In addition, Ruffing has a Running Club and offers a Cross Country program.
Middle School students have the option of studying French instead of Spanish, in addition to Latin. French classes are conducted entirely in French. Classes meet four times a week for forty-five minute lessons. Current events, proverbs, idiomatic expressions, and a cultural vignette are presented daily at the start of class.
While listening and speaking continue to be assessed, reading and writing are strongly reinforced. The program utilizes outcome based and communicative methodologies. French children’s books, films, music, poetry, games, and magazines provide important cultural context to our students.
Field trips to see French plays and art exhibits complement our class work when available. Students prepare French foods in mini cooking classes conducted in French. When possible, 8th grade trips are planned to French-speaking countries or provinces, such as La Ville du Québec and Montréal. Students are encouraged to participate in La Maison Française, a social and academic organization for French speakers in the Cleveland area.
Spanish begins in the 3rd Year of Children's House (Kindergarten) and continues through 8th grade. For our younger students, Spanish classes are conducted in Spanish with an emphasis on vocabulary, speaking, and listening. As students progress through the curriculum, classes are conducted entirely in Spanish, with a focus on reading and writing. Cultural components are woven into language lessons and are reinforced through pantomime, games, songs, and rhymes. Depending on the age, level and /or grade, classes meet one to four times a week.
The effective and thoughtful use of technology is an integral part of the Ruffing Montessori School community. Ruffing purposefully limits the use of technology in the Lower School (Toddler Community, Children’s House, and Lower Elementary). Keyboarding skills are introduced in the 3rd Year in preparation for the introduction of technology in the 4th Year.
The use of technology in the Upper Elementary and Middle School is a privilege, enriches the curriculum, provides information, connects us to others around the world, and fosters creativity and innovation. All students have access to Google educational tools, which are used appropriately as needed at each level. Technology use in the Upper Elementary and Middle School years is used as an adjunct to our curricular areas.
Students and parents read and acknowledge a Technology Use Agreement which specifies their rights and responsibilities as to the use of technology. Students use Chromebooks for coursework and testing. Digital citizenship is emphasized throughout.