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Creative and Physical Expression as a Montessori adolescent

The chief symptom of adolescence is a state of expectation, a tendency towards creative work and a need for the strengthening of self-confidence.

Maria Montessori

From Childhood to Adolescence

Montessori observed that the adolescent age was a time that was ripe for self-expression. Adolescents during this stage of development seek out ways to express themselves. In our Montessori community our students will not have their chances for these kinds of expressions bound to the traditional art, music, drama, and gym classes. As they engage in the more traditionally academic activities of the Humanities and Occupations (which we have discussed in an earlier blog), our students will be able to share what they have learned through many avenues including performances, songs, and art projects. Students will have choices in how they wish to convey the knowledge that they have gained.

However, even given this more open idea of welcoming self-expression in all of our curriculum, it is important to also have a time to specifically allow students to work on these types of projects. During our work week, we will have one day set aside to address this. This will be our Creative Expression/Physical Expression (CE/PE) day. During this day, there will be two blocks of time, one before and after lunch, that will each be 2.5 hours long. Students will choose one CE and one PE every 5 to 6 weeks to work on, and do both of them during those two blocks of time.

What constitutes a CE or a PE? In general terms, you can think of CE as an “art class” and PE as a “gym class”, but it is so much more than that. CE projects can include traditional ideas of art such as painting, photography, drama, etc., but it also includes wood-shop, cooking, year book, and music. This class is a time for students to work in a creative way and to learn a new skill or hone an existing one.

Students will have input on what CEs will be offered along with faculty input based on their skills and knowledge base. There is also the opportunity to bring outside help from parents, artisans, or other members of the community to assist in instructing our students in these forms of expression.

Just as CE is not only a traditional art class, PE is not a traditional gym class. There could be interest in having a project based on traditional sports such as basketball, soccer, or volleyball, but we want to expand our idea of what this could include. One of the many benefits of having the school in the area that we do is that we have a vast wealth of natural resources and activities at our disposal. So a CE project could also be about hiking, orienteering, fishing, kayaking, etc. We are also looking into the possibility

of offering a skiing PE during the winter months.

There are many benefits to offering these projects in this manner, but the most important is that the students will have enough time to fully get into their projects. At a traditional school, you might have an art or gym class every day, but only for 45 minutes. That time is simply not enough to get fully engrossed in a project. Imagine you were taking a cooking class as one of your chosen CEs. What could you accomplish in 45 minutes? If you were painting, by the time you got your materials together and then gave yourself enough time to clean them as well at the end, there is little time for the actual work.

PEs are the same. If you were taking a soccer PE, there is now time to both work on particular skills and play a game each week. If you are taking a hiking PE, we now have time to drive somewhere, hike, and drive back to campus. By offering our students this amount of time, we are allowing them to truly get into the flow of their project.

If you are interested in learning more about our new middle school program opening this fall 2022 and how this may be a good fit for your child, please reach out to us at, and contact our middle school guide and curriculum developer, Ryan Tucker at


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