Entire books have been written explaining Montessori curriculum and philosophy. Essentially, the Montessori philosophy allows for children to choose materials from the shelves once they’ve had lessons on those materials. As children finish with materials, they replace them on the shelves and choose new materials. This cycle, continuing daily during Montessori work time, allows children to develop concentration, independence, coordination, and order. During a typical work cycle, children use materials from all areas of the classroom.
The cornerstone of a Montessori classroom, Practical Life materials are welcoming and inviting and provide fundamental and necessary skills for children. Children learn to pour, sew, button, hammer, polish, wash, dust, and more. Many materials involve water or tools, and allow children to work independently on fine motor skills.
As children become older, the complexity of Practical Life work increases. Children practice multi-step activities to develop memory, such as flower arranging and table washing. These lessons often involve both large and fine motor skills. Simultaneously fun and purposeful, Practical Life materials lay the groundwork for future academic work.
Developmentally, young children are sensorial learners. Much more than adults, they use their senses to explore and understand the world around them.
Sensorial materials involve movement and allow children to order objects, whether by height, length, width, or shade. These materials provide opportunities for children to observe similarities and differences, and involve many different senses, including sense of touch, sight, smell, hearing, taste, stereognostic, and baric.
Choosing work that refines their senses, children develop visual acuity and the ability to differentiate between similar objects. This helps when children later must distinguish between a 6 and a 9 or between two sounds that sound very similar.
Within the scope of three years, children in our primary Montessori classrooms are able to read fluently. The speed and accuracy with which they develop from pre-readers to fluent readers attests to the materials and the logical progression within the classroom.
Language materials involve spoken language, written language, and reading. Through conversations, stories, games, and rhymes, even our youngest children develop their spoken language skills. Most children learn how to write before reading by tracing shapes and using chalkboards. Children begin the first steps toward reading by learning the phonetic sounds through multi-sensory materials. Older children delve into more abstract language work, eventually learning parts of speech and practicing story-writing.
Maria Montessori coined the phrase “mathematical mind” to describe a child’s aptitude for math. Children are interested in the concept of more, and once taught their numbers, quantities, and what they mean, begin to enjoy arithmetic.
Beginning Montessori math is very concrete. If two children are learning how to add, they physically combine two amounts to create a larger number. When dividing, children start with a large number and then begin equally sharing that number. This very concrete practice of arithmetic allows children to see and understand what addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division mean. All arithmetic begins in a very concrete manner, involves the movement of the children, and eventually becomes more abstract work.
Part of our mission statement is to help young children become dynamic citizens of the world. The cultural shelves in the classroom reinforce the notion that the world is a vast and amazing place, with all types of countries, people, animals, plants, and more. Cultural materials integrate geography, science, botany, zoology, and anatomy.
Children may create art during the work cycle. Painting, molding clay, cutting, and pasting allow children to be creative and develop large and small motor skills. Children learn about artists, musicians, instruments, listen to music, and also create weekly art projects in the afternoons.
Children are the caretakers of our classroom gardens, and take care of the planting, weeding, and watering of the garden beds. Not only does gardening connect children to the food they eat, it encourages patience and responsibility.
The prepared environment of the classroom allows children to move around the classroom, freely choosing materials and their workspaces. Without having to ask, children are free to use the bathroom or eat snacks during the work cycle. This freedom of movement and freedom of choice allows children to develop confidence and independence.
Spanish & Yoga
Each afternoon, our primary children either practice yoga or receive a Spanish lesson. During yoga, children practice on their own mats, learning new poses, developing self-control, and becoming stronger.
Our full-time bilingual Spanish teachers make Spanish fun, with songs, games, and special activities. Toddlers begin learning Spanish and continue through Kindergarten.