Bowen Island Montessori School (BIMS) operates with a group care license through Vancouver Coastal Health for children between the ages of 2.5 to 6 years of age. This type of childcare license offers our families a flexible schedule for care; one that can meld with a family’s needs rather then asking the family to fit into our schedule. However, we ask that each child attend at least two half-day sessions per week in order to feel connected and settled in our program. Children enrolled at BIMS can attend half-day programs (preschool), full time or any other combination within our schedule. BIMS offers care between the hours of 8:00 am and 4:00 pm, Monday to Thursday. Since a Montessori classroom is set up to meet the needs of a multi-age group, there are activities for the youngest and for the oldest, including Kindergarten aged children. Many children spend at least two years with us at BIMS, however, a few families choose to stay for the Kindergarten year before moving onto other educational settings offered on island.
At the beginning of each session, children are greeted and welcomed into the classroom in a kind and respectful manner by friends and teachers alike. Once each child has said good-bye to mom or dad, they move into the room and begin the day’s adventure, making choices, connections and discoveries freely and with gentle guidance from teachers and peers. Daily, there is a period of uninterrupted playtime, so children can focus, concentrate and be fully engaged. Children learn to discern for themselves when they are finished, then pack up and put away.
Circle time and story time are important components of our daily routine. These group activities help at times of transition such as at snack time but also encourage skills including turn-taking, respectful listening, incorporating music and movement, felt board stories and finger plays and rhymes. The days of the week, the weather and name songs, which help us to connect, are usual themes of circle time.
After snack time, the children go outside to play where running, climbing, and peddling and group games aid in their gross-motor development. We often venture beyond the garden gate in order to explore our community of Artisan Square.
Before heading home, there is a closing circle so children can collect their artwork, sing a song or two, listen to a short story before saying good-bye.