Our ten Early Childhood/Kindergarten classrooms are specially designed environments that are filled with beautiful, developmentally appropriate, hands on materials for your child to explore. As the children enter these light filled, orderly environments, they have the freedom to make their own choices of activities guided by the Montessori trained staff. Freedom of choice and the hands-on learning materials allow the children to progress at their own pace building confidence in their own abilities.
All the classrooms have a 3+ age years span beginning at 2 years 9 months through 6 years of age. The three year old child is in the age of language and motor development. They explore the classroom using all their senses. The four year old child eagerly begins to socialize and expands their activities into all areas of the classroom gaining important basic skills and expanding their ability to focus on large, multiple step activities. As the four year old absorbs the concepts, the five year old expresses knowledge through reading, writing and more abstract math concepts. They are excited to become leaders and role models to their younger friends in the classroom. A community is created through respect of oneself, others and the environment.
Our ten lead Montessori Early Childhood/Kindergarten teachers all hold college degrees and Montessori credentials from training programs accredited by the Montessori Accreditation Council for teacher Education (MACTE).
The Montessori curriculum is divided into four core areas of study: Practical Life (which includes art), Sensorial, Math and Language. Skills learned in these areas are used to explore our Cultural Studies which include: Geography, Botany, Zoology, and physical science. Supplementing these areas are specialists in music, Spanish and, for the Kindergarten age students, Science and Physical Education.
Practical Life: The Practical Life area of the classroom provides real life experiences as children practice self help skills in caring for themselves and the environment . Children love having the opportunity to spread their own jam, make their own juice and put on there own coat. The child sized materials and environment assist their desire to “do it all by myself”. They engage with these familiar activities and gain confidence in their abilities while becoming more independent. The work in the area of Practical Life also benefits children by helping to increase their ability to concentrate, problem solve, retain information, gain more refined fine and large motor control, and have the ability to follow multiple step processes. Practical life activities increase in difficulty as the child matures in their motor development and ability to focus on a activity form beginning to end. While a three year old may be stringing beads, a four or five year old will undertake a sewing project.
Visitors often notice the peacefulness and self-control seen in our students when touring our Montessori classrooms . The practical life area of Grace and Courtesy is where children learn social norms through modeling at lessons at lessons and by older students in the classrooms. Children practice theses new skills in their daily interactions in the classroom community. For instance, children will learn how to greet their teacher, ask for help or a friend to play. Grace and Courtesy also includes movement activities for increased coordination and self-regulation.
“All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason.” Immanuel Kant
A scientist herself, Dr. Montessori envisioned her students to be young scientists exploring, discovering and learning through their own efforts. In order to assist the children, she created a curriculum for the senses so that children could become more accurate observers of their world. Activities in matching and naming shapes and sizes, sounds, tastes, smells, weights and temperatures of objects help to sharpen a child’s discrimination of differences using all of their senses. The child then goes on to sequencing and making classifications in their environment: which is bigger, which is loudest, which is roughest? The sensorial materials prepare the child for all areas of the curriculum including language (builds descriptive vocabulary), math (identification of geometric shapes and identifying larger sizes), science (greater ability to observe) and the ability to explore and problem solve without the fear of making a mistake.
Math: Once the child has learned to complete a work cycle (choosing, completing, and cleaning up an activity) and developed their ability to concentrate from their work in the Practical Life area also learned to discriminate and sequence the visual Sensorial materials, they will begin their work in the Math area. The math materials are carefully designed, developmentally appropriate and sequenced so that the child can move successfully to the next lesson once they have mastered a concept. The younger child begins by practicing oral counting, and then identifies and quantifies numbers 1 – 10. Concepts of zero and even and odd are also introduced at this stage. As children progress they continue to count, quantify and identify numbers first to 19, then 100, and all the way to 1000.
Addition to ten is introduced and then the concept of the decimal system and place value. Using the golden bead materials and numeral cards, the child engages in a sensorial experience of the four operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division building deep understanding of these processes. Our older, kindergarten aged students may be introduced to more advanced lessons that cross over into our Lower Elementary curriculum such as learning their math facts, fractions, and decimal system operations using more abstract materials.
Language: The Language area not only includes the teaching of reading and writing, but also supports the child’s oral language and understanding of English through vocabulary building and grammar lessons. As young children are in a sensitive period for language acquisition where in their early years they can effortlessly go from knowing a few words to thousands of words including the correct usage of grammar, the Montessori curriculum supports this process by introducing the child to a large variety of vocabulary through the child’s work in the Practical Life, Sensorial, and cultural areas. In addition, the Language area has specific vocabulary building activities that help a child learn and classify new words (transportation, insects, clothing). Children engage in other pre-language exercises such as sequencing and activities to develop phonemic awareness. Once a child can identify the beginning sounds of words, they are introduced to the phonetic sounds of the letters of the alphabet through their work with the sandpaper letters. The child uses the moveable alphabet material to continue practicing their phonemic awareness through building words using the sounds of the letters.
Three levels of reading known as the pink, blue and green levels (pink – short phonetic words and beginning sight words, blue – blends and more sight words, and green – phonograms with more advanced sight words) prepare the child to read at the non-phonetic level. Grammar studies are offered to advanced students.
Cosmic Studies: Cosmic means comprehensive, holistic and all inclusive. When children are given an awareness of all life on earth and their interconnection to all life on earth, they may then understand the importance of being grateful for all that exists and those that came before us. Children are given lessons in the forces of nature; botany, zoology, geography, physical science, meteorology, and geology. At this age, the lessons are hands-on and presented in a way that the child can understand; the young child is a very concrete thinker. An example would be having children learn about a common food item such as corn by seeing, touching, and dissecting a corn stalk with roots and corn cobs. Along with their experiences in growing plants and understanding that plants need water and soil to grow, the children understand that the plant is dependent on other forces for life. The class may then make corn bread or muffins to share and enjoy as a community acknowledging that this plant which grew from a seed and was watered from the rain and nurtured by the farmer gave them their delicious snack.
The experiences in preschool provide the foundational knowledge for when students begin to think more abstractly and move into our Lower Elementary program. They will then be presented with the first Lower Elementary Great Lessons which consist of the creation of the Universe (big bang), our solar system, earth, and the evolution of life on earth including man. The inter-connectedness of all life is a theme throughout the curriculum.
Children are given lessons in the forces of nature; botany, zoology, geography and geology. The lessons in preschool provide the foundation to give students an understanding of the universe and how life became. These lessons develop in the lower elementary level of Montessori classrooms.
It is the head teacher’s responsibility to ensure that children receive lessons from all areas of the curriculum: Practical Life, Sensorial, Math, Language and the Cosmic Curriculum. Children progress through a curriculum area at their own pace. Those who master a skill quickly may progress quickly and those requiring more time are allowed repetition of an activity.
Music and Spanish are two subject areas taught by outside specialists who visit each classroom. A weekly Science lesson and Spring Physical Education are additionally taught to kindergarten students. A community service project is undertaken by all students each year.
After School Programs
After school programs are offered quarterly and currently soccer, woodworking, Mandarin, chess, karate, and dance are available each week.