Montessori Program


Renfrew Elementary School has one of only three Montessori programs within the Vancouver school district.  It began in the 2012-13 school year and included one kindergarten class and one grade 1 class. By the 2018-19 year, the Montessori program will include Kindergarten to grade 7. Except for Kindergarten, you can expect classes to include 2 to 3 grades together. Montessori encourages multi-grade classes so that younger students can learn from older students and older students reinforce what they have learned through teaching younger students.

What is Montessori?

The Montessori style of teaching is based on Maria Montessori's system of learning where children develop natural interests instead of being formerly led through all activities. In practical application, when you enter Renfrew's Montessori classrooms, you'll notice that each area is dedicated to a different area of study including:  science, math, art, reading, practical life and more. The shelves for each area are typically divided into levels where children start on the simpler levels first and in time advance to more challenging material after. Each child will go through each level at their own pace with the teacher monitoring their progress and helping them along.

Montessori tools tend toward items that children can hold in their hands whether it is blocks, rods of varying lengths or maps where you can add/remove countries. Certain activities also help develop motor skills like moving items with tongs from one container to another thereby mimicing the same hand coordination needed for writing with a pencil later. Rods are often used to measure and compare relative length. For number counting to 100, children receive 100 square pieces with all the numbers on them and have to place them in the correct order on a 10 x 10 board. This allows children to actively engage their mind and their hands. Then, upon completion they can see patterns.

Practical life exercises include food preparation, taking care of oneself (hygiene, cleanliness of one's area) and independence. You may find that the Montessori teachers encourage this at home as well as at school. It can be as simple as getting your child to carry and take care of their own school bag, putting away dishes or helping out with grocery shopping.

All Montessori teachers must also undergo extra training to be certified to teach Montessori classes on top of getting a degree in Education. Of interest is also that the current principal of the school came from Tyee Elementary School (this is a Montessori public school in Vancouver) to help oversee the development of our program.


Montessori area of study - Culture

Map puzzle with pegs   Learn fractions with circles broken up into equal sections

Geometric shapes   3D geometric shapes

How to Join the Montessori Program at Renfrew Elementary School

Please check the Vancouver School Board website here. Generally, to apply, first you need to make sure you apply for your English catchment school. Then, you will receive your Personal Education Number (PEN). After that, you can fill out a form online on the VSB website usually by the end of January.

Note that returning students get their spots first, followed by any siblings. All other applicants are put into a lottery for the remaining spots. 

If this is your first time, note that you can apply for several schools like French immersion and Montessori in Vancouver at the same time. The lotteries are often around the same time and then you have a set amount of time to decide which school to enroll your child.

If you do not get a spot, you will usually be notified of your waiting list number. It's not uncommon for children on the waiting lists to get a spot. When a parent turns down a school, a spot opens up and the child at the top of the list then gets the option to enroll. This continues so on down the list until all spots are filled. In some instances, parents may find that the school is not the right fit for their child even a few weeks into class and new kids from the waiting list may be added.

If your child is applying for a spot in Grade 1 to Grade 7, they will be added to the existing wait list for each grade. Priority is given to children with previous Montessori experience. Make sure you include any Montessori experience your child has on your form.

Does the Montessori School Interact With the Rest of the School?

Absolutely, YES! The Montessori classes attend the same sports day events, Terry Fox Run and more. Other than how the children are taught within the classroom, they participate just the same in all school wide events and activites. Other examples include dance week, golf week and participation in the Pink Day anti-bullying day.


© Renfrew Elementary School PAC
3315 22 Ave E  Vancouver, BC V5M 2Z2, Tel:  (604) 713-4851  Fax:  (604) 713-4854