Kendalwood Montessori – A Caring Community

Kendalwood is much more than just a school; we strive to be a community that nurtures children and supports families. Our community approach helps students feel confident as they stretch themselves in new ways, knowing that their Kendalwood family is there to provide guidance as intellectual abilities and self-esteem are developed simultaneously.

Everyday Involvement

We have always fostered a transparent classroom environment and parents are welcomed to be a part of our everyday school activities or join in for events as they are able. Parent involvement extends the “village” which supports the development of students and provides an opportunity to develop a connected network amongst Kendalwood families.

Parent Connection

Kendalwood Parent Meet-Ups are offered regularly in an effort to provide parents with Montessori insights, parenting discussion, and other topics of interest. These evening are hosted by our Principal, Janis Koenders and Head of Elementary, Nicole Tal. Recent topics have included Technology in a Montessori environment, Anxiety & the Developing Child, and The Kendalwood Music and AIM French Program.

Community Happenings

Special family events are a wonderful way for the entire Kendalwood community to come together. Our Grandparent Tea, Holiday Social and Ice Skating Party are anticipated by families each year. Kendalwood Alumni families often join in!

Parents, friends and extended family members stop in to the Kendalwood Café for coffee and snacks hosted by Kendalwood Elementary students every few weeks. The Café has been a lovely addition to our calendar of events which we all look forward to – the camaraderie felt in the Café is unmistakable! It is also a great way for our older students to practice important life skills which they greatly enjoy. Their hard work will culminate In April as the funds raised support the Upper Elementary camping expedition to Camp Muskoka. We’ll have several parents joining us for the trip!

Being Part of a Community.

Our expectations of students are not only academic. The whole child approach to education requires focus on all developmental areas, including social and emotional. A Montessori environment is an ideal setting to foster the skills necessary to become an active community member. The Kendalwood community is abundant in mutual respect, shared curiosity and an affinity for mentorship amongst students and teachers. This sense of community remains with students as they grow and make their own way as young adults, creating a strong foundation for personal success.


What is Montessori?

One of the most powerful aspects of Montessori education is witnessing the power of a child’s natural inclination to learn and absorb their environment. When provided with a well thought-out environment, natural inquisitiveness and desire to learn motivates children to explore and soak up information. In this kind of prepared environment, students are enabled to work independently and at their own pace.

shane builds the pink towerOne of the tools Montessori children are given from a very early age is a method to create their own workspace within the classroom. Toddler, Pre-Casa and Casa students define their work area using a small mat, which is unrolled and placed carefully on the floor. Once the workstation is prepared, the child can select materials to work with, which are brought to the workstation. The classroom expectation is very clear that individual workstations are to be respected by others working in the room, which is treated quite earnestly. This is a wonderful example of the “freedom within limits” tenet practiced by authentic Montessori schools.

Education cannot be effective unless it helps a child to open up himself to life.

– Maria Montessori

The above example illustrates the importance of the prepared environment. In order to give students the freedom to make their own choices, they need to be provided with a precise selection of suitable materials in the classroom. When constructed properly, children are able to have more influence into their own activity cycles, starting and stopping or moving on to a new set of work according to their own appetite as they master each subject within the curriculum. Similarly, students also have the alternative of changing subject matter more quickly or moving through materials at a faster pace than another child who is more engrossed or simply taking their time to further explore a topic.

In a more traditional classroom setting, students are managed by a timetable to which they must strictly adhere, even when that means stopping just when enthusiasm for a topic may be reaching its peak, or moving on before students have grasped the subject matter.

The Beauty of Montessori

Freedom within limits” provides the flexibility for each child to have their unique needs met, while ensuring that the entire curriculum is well represented and accessed within an adequate timeline.  This is the beauty of Montessori.

Within the Montessori classroom, curriculum develops along with each child – ahead in one area, behind in another – we work with the child at their level in each area of the curriculum. For students requiring additional time or support in any given area, they have the opportunity to slow down and take the necessary steps to ensure understanding. This could mean slowing down a single lesson or a series of lessons over a period of days or even weeks.  In a traditional classroom, teachers are largely unable to accommodate students who need more time to reach understanding, or those who are quickly ready to move on.

casa_newSelf-regulation skills flourish as students have such a wide variety of opportunities to practice these skills within the structure of the classroom. Confidence builds as students take an active role in their own learning and teachers assume the role of careful observer reserving “Centre Stage” for students.

When learning is planned and implemented according to the time honoured and proven Montessori methodology, children are naturally incented to learn. Education is so much more that the transmission of knowledge and it is within the process of student discovery and action that true knowledge emerges. It is truly our privilege to witness the development of our students each day.


Kendalwood Montessori – Full of Life After the School Day Ends

Kendalwood Montessori & Elementary School offers a rich after school environment for our students. Extracurricular and enrichment programs are a key ingredient in a Kendalwood education, and many opportunities exist for students to develop interests and connect with friends during lunch or after school.

Our after school clubs are open to all students at Kendalwood at no additional cost! We feel that enrichment and community should continue at every opportunity and our commitment to our students extends beyond the instructional day.  Each term, programs are scheduled based on the interests of our students and we always introduce new themes to encourage ongoing growth and discovery.

Clubs are run by Kendalwood staff, often based on their own individual interests and talents. For instance, Mr. Linderman offers Chess and Choir clubs while Mrs. Tal shares her love of science in a variety of STEM inspired clubs. Language based session are offered regularly, including Spanish, German and Sign Language.

Chess clubThe after school programs and activities at Kendalwood are designed to be fun and enjoyable, and to serve our thriving Montessori community. From drama to Lego, and everything in between, there is a club for every child, providing wonderful opportunities for enrichment, socializing with peers and teachers and cultivating a strong sense of belonging.

For any students looking for a more in-depth opportunity to learn a musical instrument, one on one music lessons can be arranged during the after school period with qualified faculty. French tutoring is also available for those focused on developing strong second language. More information and pricing for music and language tutoring can be obtained at the office.

Our after school program is something we are so proud to offer at Kendalwood Montessori. We feel that our inclusive approach is unique, contributing to the Kendalwood Difference. We strive to provide a diverse program to develop the whole child through expanded cultural, artistic and skill set horizons.

Is there a club you would like to see added to our roster? Please let us know!


Individualized Learning in Elementary School – Montessori Works!  

Our lower elementary students begin each day with their individual work plans, where they keep a detailed list of lessons and activities to be completed over the course of the month. Each student’s progress is reflected in their plan as they work through the Montessori curriculum. While work plans are developed in tandem with the Ministry of Education guidelines, students are able to choose their work freely within the structure of their personal work plan and the areas which make up the Kendalwood lower elementary classroom.

Lower Elementary_B_B

Mr.Linderman works with a small group of students.

The Montessori learning environment, where students are able to work independently or join in small groups in various activities, is much different from what one would see in a traditional primary classroom. During work periods, students may be called to learn a new lesson in a small group, others will work independently on a lesson they are mastering while another group might use the computer to gather research for an independent project of his/her interest.  This is also a time for teachers to hold one-on-one conferences with students or offer support and reinforcement to students as required.

 Education is a natural process carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words, but by experiences in the environment.  

– Maria Montessori

Kendalwood provides a program rich with opportunities to explore topics and interests outside of the Ministry of Education’s core curriculum, one of the many reasons parents choose Montessori education for their children. Students gather in groups for French lessons or spend some time learning a musical instrument such as the penny whistle or the ukulele. Music lessons are a time to explore sound and sensations along with learning musical theory and history. Academic lessons are applied to real life situations whenever possible and Kendalwood chooses field trips which help to transfer knowledge in real world context.

Careful attention is paid to social development in tandem with academic development. There is an important balance to be found between the two in order to nurture well-rounded individuals. Character education, public speaking and community outreach are a few of the larger initiatives undertaken at the lower elementary level to support social development, however, our day to day interactions with one another as a school community  are the biggest influence on social development. We operate as a team and respect one another’s contributions to the lower elementary classroom.

A Montessori elementary education means that our students are able to work through the curriculum as individuals. Montessori follows the child – only children who are ready to move forward will do so. Those who need to take more time to master a subject or a skill are able to work at their own pace.  Once a child is observed to be ready to move forward, the Montessori classroom enables timely progression. At Kendalwood, we often see students learning concepts which are traditionally not explored until the junior grades in the public system.

Learning is a distinct process; the way in which we absorb knowledge is unique to each individual. At Kendalwood, our lower elementary program enables students to progress at a rate that coincides with their current developmental stage – which is so critical to creating a love of learning in the primary years.

The Kendalwood lower elementary program is led by Montessori Directress Christine Lauzon. She is a MACTE Accredited Lower and Upper Elementary Montessori teacher, with Ontario Certification in Elementary Education up to grade 8 and Math and History specialities to grade 10.  Christine graduated from Queens University in the Concurrent Education program in 2009 when she also obtained her Special Education qualifications. 

Nicole Tal is Upper Elementary Directress and Head of Kendalwood Elementary. With an extensive education including a Masters of Education, in addition to her Ontario Teachers Certificate, Montessori Certification, and Special Education qualifications, Nicole brings the very best in curriculum design and Montessori methodology to our elementary program. Read more about Nicole.

Kendalwood Montessori and Elementary School is very proud to be the first fully Accredited Montessori School in Durham Region, having achieved CCMA accreditation in 2011. Read more about our commitment to quality education.


Nicole Tal – Upper Elementary Directress & Head of Kendalwood Montessori Elementary

Nicole Tal’s passion and dedication within our elementary classrooms at Kendalwood Montessori is truly infectious. With a remarkable ability to connect with students on their individual level, Nicole’s energetic approach never fails to ignite the love of learning in others.

Our Upper Elementary Directress brings her education credentials and teaching experience rich in Montessori methodology to Kendalwood. When asked how she got her start in Montessori, her enthusiasm shines through as she recounts how her “mind was blown!” during an information session when the connection between the use of concrete materials and learning really clicked for her. New to the methodology, and the possibilities of what this could mean for students, was so exciting.

During Nicole’s Montessori training, she was captivated by Maria Montessori’s faith in her students. Montessori theorized that children could make decisions, show self-control, and learn independently from the teacher.  While somewhat skeptical, she couldn’t wait to see this in action. Once she witnessed this for herself, she was amazed by the control and self-discipline visible in the classroom.

headshot_Nicole“After understanding the use of the materials in the classroom and witnessing the mechanics of a working classroom, I was hooked.  Montessori became a way of teaching, thinking, and working that permeated my entire life, including my parenting.”  – Nicole Tal, Upper Elementary Directress & Head of Kendalwood Elementary

Nicole’s Montessori teaching journey began in a Casa classroom where she spent six years working with students aged three to six. Her next career stop included curriculum development and promotion of Education programs for Reptilia, where students are able to learn more about the world around them and gain concrete understanding of abstract ideas through interaction with living reptiles. What a wonderful compliment to Nicole’s Montessori background!

Her return to teaching included a move to the elementary program and she loved it from the start. In her current role at Kendalwood, Nicole not only teaches, but acts as Head of Kendalwood Elementary. With an extensive education including a Masters of Education, in addition to her Ontario Teachers Certificate, Montessori Certification, and Special Education qualifications, Nicole brings the very best in curriculum design and Montessori methodology to our elementary program.  Nicole’s qualifications combined with her passion for her students and all things Montessori result in an extraordinary elementary experience for students in Whitby and the greater Durham Region.  She is such a wonderful part of what makes Kendalwood unique!

How many of you remember that one teacher who made a difference in your lives? To us Mrs Tal is that teacher. What sets her apart is her passion for teaching and the ability to see each child as an individual. She encourages her students to dig deep and reach beyond what they think their limits are. In turn her students are confident, accomplished and excited about the world around them. The transformation in our son has been incredible.   Mrs Tal’s  patience, kindness  and her gift of making his school life full of interesting challenges has made him so happy he actually loves to learn!!  – Gillian Koch, Kendalwood Parent


It is an absolute pleasure working with Nicole! As an educator she brings a great passion and devotion to her teaching, which is evident in the success of the Upper Elementary Classroom. She has a magical way about her that continually sparks the interest and inner drive in all her students, ensuring they meet their true potential.  As a co-worker, Nicole is always willing to offer her assistance and expansive knowledge to every classroom, staff and student in the school. This approach has been instrumental in the creation of the supportive and tight knit school community we have here at Kendalwood.  – Janis Koenders, Kendalwood Principal 

Learn more about our Elementary Program

The Kendalwood Casa Community

Maria Montessori coined the term “the absorbent mind” to describe the early years of development, where children spontaneously and effortlessly accumulate knowledge through their environment. The years between three and six are a time of opportunity, where early experiences have set foundations yet children continue to unconsciously take in everything around them.

The Casa classroom is specifically set up to support this concept of enthusiastic exploration and independent discovery through the environment. During the Casa years, a child begins to interact with the world more consciously, refining their experiences and acting in a more purposeful way. The prepared environment within a Casa classroom encourages movement and activity, providing well thought out access to materials which have been specifically designed and arranged to entice the child to learn. A balanced mix of freedom and self-discipline develops within each student as they navigate the Casa environment.

Within this distinct classroom setting, Casa students enjoy a diverse peer group of children aged three to six. This three year age span is a hallmark of Montessori education which enables younger students to both observe and interact with older children in a familial setting. The elder students have the opportunity to gain confidence acting as leaders within the classroom. In other cases, students of the same age working at different levels can work together to share knowledge and assist one another. This environment of peer teaching and learning fosters a cooperative learning environment for all.

There are a number of key goals within the Casa community. Children work towards developing their sense of order and expand their concentration skills. Independence and problem solving capabilities are always an area of focus. The Casa classroom nurtures a natural love of learning and gives that “absorbent mind” the very best environment in which to grow.

 “Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.”

– Maria Montessori

Observing a Casa classroom is truly a remarkable experience for anyone who has not witnessed Montessori education in action. A first year Casa child learning letters one through twenty may be sitting beside a second year student working on addition and subtraction, or even a third year student working on multiplication or division. Each child works at their own level using supporting materials. A first year student is often supported and motivated by an older classmate while the elder of the pair thrives in the role of mentor.

Classmates, Friends, Mentors

Kendalwood Casa students are confident and engaged learners! Please contact us if you would like to tour the campus and see the Montessori magic in one of our classrooms.


Kendalwood Elementary Life – A Glimpse Inside

The Kendalwood upper elementary classroom is always full of cheerful activity. Our eldest students are an inquisitive and imaginative bunch and the elementary program strives to provide them with an inspiring learning environment which builds upon the Montessori foundations acquired through the Casa experience. Physical Montessori materials used in the Casa classroom have done the job of illustrating abstract concepts which can now be applied through advanced technology and other more complex applications. The elementary classroom is an accumulation of the Montessori experiences our older students have amassed – it is a remarkable place.

As elementary students begin to explore more abstract concepts and ideas, a great deal of classroom discussion and debate is stimulated. At this stage in the child’s development, we move beyond the classic Montessori tenet of “help me to do it alone” towards “help me to think by myself”. It is so rewarding to see it in action!

Self-exploration and character building are important aspects of helping students to grow into independent thinkers. Every morning, elementary students take part in a character lesson. The Magnificient Me lesson asks children to name one of their key attributes by completing “I am” statements. An explanation of the statement follows.

 Magnificent Me Examples Magnificent Me


Statement: I am loving.

Explanation: I greet each day with an open and giving heart.



Group discussion is an important element of this character lesson. Once students complete their “I am” statements and explanations we talk about our impressions, what these statements mean to us individually and how we can incorporate them into our daily life.  Following group discussion, students write a reflection on their thoughts.

This daily practice provides children with an opportunity for quiet contemplation. They can think about the kind of person they want to be and what they want to strive towards as they grow into young men and women.

Character education extends throughout the campus and our upper elementary students have an important role to play within the Kendalwood Community. They take great pride in their daily responsibilities. Older children can be found raking leaves in the school yard, managing their Café fundraiser or acting as a reading buddy for a Casa student. These children are growing into young leaders through emphasis on acting as role models for younger students and contributing to care of the Kendalwood environment.

The Kendalwood Difference

A sense of purpose. A feeling of belonging. An understanding and compassionate family environment. Older children reaching critical stages in personal development need a supportive community where they can make sense of their expanding world. Kendalwood focuses on meeting the unique needs of these students.  Our elementary program is a place for young minds to discover, creativity to flow and responsibility to take root.

If you would like to learn more about our elementary program, we would be happy to talk with you personally. Contact us or drop in to our Open House on December 8th.

Montessori Education Teaches Valuable Life Skills  

It goes without saying that building strong academic capability ranks high on the priority list for parents and educators.  Research shows there is an additional set of skills with equal, or possibly, greater importance when it comes to fostering individual growth and potential in children – emotional intelligence (EQ). EQ can be described as the ability to be aware of and express emotions, and to manage relationships with empathy. This set of skills impacts much of our everyday behaviour and is a significant factor in our ability to be happy, successful individuals.

The ability to put yourself “in someone else’s shoes” both intellectually and emotionally, is a critical skill that greatly impacts EQ. Kendalwood provides students with opportunities to further develop their emotional intelligence skills in practical ways. One program which supports this important aspect of Montessori education is our community outreach program. Kendalwood elementary students visit Community Care Durham, a Whitby retirement residence not far from the school, once every month during the academic year.

Our community outreach program provides Kendalwood students an opportunity to demonstrate patience, compassion and empathy. Students plan and present a themed activity during each visit to the seniors’ residence which could include a game, sing along or presentation and our music teacher Mr. Linderman brings along his guitar so the kids can sing to the residents. Many of the Community Care residents have vision and hearing challenges and students often show a natural desire to assist. It is heartwarming to see children act as the eyes and ears of those struggling in order that the seniors may participate fully in the planned activities.

Residents look forward to seeing the children each month as they collaborate to plan exciting activities and share their own stories and experiences with the children. Our students are always captivated by the narrative residents share on these visits. Listening to stories from a time not so long ago, yet so very different form our present day, is a wonderful way to learn perspective and to become more sensitive to the needs of others.

To feel for and with others is much more than an admirable quality. Fostering skills to develop emotional intelligence builds compassionate, resilient adults with the capacity to reach their own unique potential in all aspects of their life – something parents and Montessori educators alike want for our children.


Kendalwood Students Play Bingo with Community Care Residents

Kendalwood Montessori Community Service Program


Kendalwood Parent Ambassadors – Cultivating Our Montessori Community

Nurturing a strong sense of community is one of our biggest priorities at Kendalwood Montessori & Elementary. Creating an environment based on individual growth where our students and their parents can establish roots, deepen relationships and feel connected as a whole is something we’re proud of which sets us apart.

Kendalwood encourages partnership with our parent community as we feel that parents are the first and most important teachers for their children. For this reason, we are very excited to announce our Kendalwood Parent Ambassador program.

Parent Ambassadors are a resource to all Kendalwood families, offering a friendly ear for any questions about school matters and/or their personal experience with Montessori education. Families often need advice or even reassurance when it comes to education and parenting in general. We are thrilled to have Parent Ambassadors volunteer to support our Montessori community and extend the “village” which helps nurture the growth and education of Kendalwood students.


“When the environment meets all the needs of children they become, without manipulation by the adult, physically healthy, mentally and psychologically fulfilled, extremely well-educated, and brimming over with joy and kindness towards each other.” ~ Maria Montessori


Introducing Our Parent Ambassadors

We aver very happy to introduce two Parent Ambassadors for the 2014-2015 academic year:

Gillian Koch has been part of our parent community since 2010. She has one child enrolled at Kendalwood. Why Gillian loves Kendalwood:

“We love the warm family type atmosphere that has inspired Liam to grow academically, socially and emotionally. Our whole family feels welcome the minute we walk in the door…in short we love the Happiness within.”

Jennifer Pratt joined Kendalwood in 2013. She also has one child enrolled and a younger child joining us next year. Why Jennifer loves Kendalwood:

“Prior to starting our daughter at Kendalwood, we interviewed every Montessori School in the Durham Region. No other school offered what Kendalwood does! Kendalwood is a feeling. It is more than a school – it is a community, a spirit and a family! “

Gillian and Jennifer are available as a resource for families who are new to our school and/or new to the community. If you are looking to connect with someone experienced in a specific area, or speak with someone who may have been through a similar experience you are dealing with, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Kendalwood families will receive information on how to contact our Parent Ambassadors in the next newsletter. If you are interested in becoming a Kendalwood Parent Ambassador, please see the office. Thank you!