Nine Developmental Needs of Adolescents


Montessori education fosters concern for other human beings and the community at every level.  This tenet is fundamental to the Adolescent  Program and is manifested in the curriculum, in the caring, respectful relationships nurtured between and among teachers and students, and in special community projects.  These projects allow students to contribute actively to the concentric circles of community, from local to global, of which they are members.


The transition from childhood to adulthood is marked by an increasing need for independence and for personal and group responsibility. The Adolescent Program encourages the development of these skills both within and beyond the classroom through academic work, designated daily responsibilities  for the maintenance of the environment, and projects that contribute to our community and others.  The Adolescent Program functions as a community in which all voices are heard in the process of planning and carrying out both special projects and everyday activities.


As adolescents journey into adulthood, they require the skills to express their needs and concerns, and to resolve conflict with their peers as well as with the adults in their lives in a positive way.  We strive to create forums in which the adolescents can practice these skills, through group meetings, contact with adult role models, assistance with conflict resolution, and the encouragement of honest and open dialogues with any and all members of the community.


Rapidly changing bodies and minds require time to absorb new ways of thinking, new perceptions of self, and new reactions from others.  To accommodate the new selves that they are becoming, adolescents need opportunities to consider how to be an adult of a particular gender, religion, cultural group, etc.  Adolescents need oppmiunities to explore their widening world and to reflect upon the meaning of new experiences, so that they can begin to consider themselves not just as observers, but also as participants in society.


Along with the desire to better understand themselves, adolescents hunger for an understanding of their life’s meaning and purpose.  We each need a personal vision to help define our great tasks to sustain and nourish us throughout our lives.  The development  of a personal vision is the logical next step in Cosmic Education.  Every experience within the Adolescent Program is designed to contribute to this quest.


Opportunities to creatively express their new feelings, interests, abilities and thoughts helps adolescents to understand and accept the transformations that they are undergoing.  Students are encouraged to explore self-expression not only through the traditional  modes of artistic expression (such as art, music and physical education), but also through the variety and freedom of individual interpretation inherent in many of the academic projects that are offered during the year.  Each year, students participate in a variety of creative experiences,  from theatrical productions to contributing artistic pieces to the school facilities.


All individuals hunger for opportunities to prove themselves, especially in tasks they find rewarding.  Adolescents need to know that others respect and value what they do.  Our program meets these needs not only by emphasizing high­ quality academic instruction, but also by providing practical opportunities for mastery, competency and contribution in the real world. Positive expectations of all students, generous (yet meaningful) rewards and praise, and opportunities for increased independence and responsibility are among the hallmarks of the Adolescent Program.  A variety of teaching methods and a balanced integrated curriculum enable each student the opportunity to experience success. Additionally, micro-economic  enterprises and community service provide a forum to put to the test new abilities and budding talents.


Integral to any well-rounded adolescent program are opportunities for the adolescents to engage appropriately in physical activity.   Our program includes a regular physical education program as well as scheduled “free time” during which students can exert themselves physically.  Many of our special projects (such as the Odyssey Trip, Cayuga Trail maintenance,  and various service experiences) challenge students to exert themselves physically in new, varied and exciting ways.


Adolescents need the security provided by clear limits in order to learn how to grow during a time of rapid change.  In order to be responsive to this need for structure, the Adolescent Program incorporates clearly stated rules and expectations that are generally acceptable and understood, and often developed by students and staff members alike. In keeping with our philosophy that adolescents are ready to accept greater responsibility within the context of their community, they are involved whenever appropriate in the establishment of rules, and the manner in which community members should be held accountable for observing them.