Early Childhood & Kindergarten

The early childhood program is for children from 3 to 6 years (**Kindergarten 5-6 years old). Children spend three years in the same classroom in a mixed-age environment getting to know each other and their teachers very well. This continuity instills a strong sense of community among the children, the teachers and the parents.

The classrooms are designed to meet the needs of each child in a personal and unique way. Everything in the classroom is just their size and the environment is full of beautiful, natural things. The materials are inviting and allow the children to explore the world in a concrete way through their senses. Children learn by doing and discovering through touch, motion, observation, and repetition. As the children grow, the materials grow with them because the child uses the materials in new ways.

The Montessori teacher is a facilitator and an observer. Teachers guide children through the materials and the curriculum, as they are ready for each new challenge. Children are first introduced to a new lesson and then are free to repeat and practice what they have learned as many times as they choose. The curriculum in the Montessori classroom enhances children’s natural interest in learning new things, and there is a dynamic interaction between the various areas. Our Montessori classrooms are divided into eight areas. Each area is detailed below:

Practical Life:

Children gain self-confidence and a sense of independence when they are able to accomplish things by themselves. The Practical Life area of the classroom helps them do exactly that. This area of the classroom allows children to learn and master skills of everyday life, such as cleaning, pouring themselves a drink, and tying their shoes. As children gain independence in this area of the classroom they are unwittingly setting a pattern for a lifetime of good work habits and a positive self-image that will allow them to approach other life challenges with confidence.

Some of the Practical Life activities include: pouring, polishing silver, cutting fruits and vegetables, sweeping, dusting, working with the dressing frames to master buttons, zippers, snaps, and shoelaces.

Grace and Courtesy:

Perhaps the most critical life skill of all for children to master is the ability to work and play with others in a peaceful and caring way.  Treating others with dignity and respect are cornerstones of the Montessori philosophy and are taught through Grace and Courtesy exercises.

In the Montessori classroom, children and adults take care to be gracious toward, and courteous of, one another. This area encourages respect for oneself, for other members of the community, for all living things, and for the environment. Carrying things carefully, returning them to their place so others may use them, moving gracefully and carefully, using polite and respectful language, good table manners, and interrupting politely are all part of the lessons in Grace and Courtesy.

Sensorial:

Sensorial materials in the Montessori classroom aim to develop and refine the child’s senses. Children learn to focus their attention on subtle differences in the properties of many objects. This gives children the ability for a deeper awareness and appreciation of the physical world. Each activity in the Sensorial area allows a child to explore a single quality at one time such as color, smell, sound, weight and size.

Working in the Sensorial area of the classroom builds a strong foundation for the exploration of other areas such as Language, Mathematics, and Practical Life. A sensorial exercise that is especially enjoyed is the Silence Game. The children are simply asked to stop whatever they are doing, close their eyes, and listen to the world around them. This exercise helps children develop a higher level of self-discipline as well as a greater awareness of the world around them.

Language:

The first step for a child learning to read and write is observation. Montessori first teaches the sound a letter makes rather then the name. This allows children to immediately begin sounding out words and gain confidence in reading. The Montessori approach to reading and writing is based on the fact that children learn best through touch and manipulation. Sandpaper letters are used to teach sound and letter formation. Children are encouraged to trace the shape of the letter, pronounce the sound, and use words that begin with that sound. Sand is used for the child to draw the letters long before they ever pick up a pencil. As children become familiar with most of their sounds they begin to build words, and so on.

The Montessori approach to reading and writing is not just found within the Language area, but is integrated throughout the classroom. Each activity is geared toward preparing a child to read and write through coordination, and concentration, reinforces language concepts through rich vocabulary, names and labels for everything, and left to right arrangement for each activity.

Mathematics:

While traditional schools usually teach math skills by rote memorization, Montessori students explore hands-on materials that make abstract concepts clear and concrete. Sensorial exercises are an important part of the math curriculum. They lead into the understanding of the fundamentals of mathematics, such as quantity, identity, and difference. These concrete representations of abstract concepts allow a child to see and understand and then internalize each mathematical concept clearly. This understanding forms a strong foundation for more advanced arithmetic in later years.

Children in a Montessori classroom begin adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing with ease at an early age. As they master one concrete material, there are materials waiting that offer more abstraction. Children become very familiar and comfortable with numbers.

Geography:

Geography in the Montessori classroom is a true celebration of the world’s diversity as well as it’s common threads. Children gain a deeper global perspective as they are introduced to land forms, continents, and study of the earth’s formation. The Geography curriculum begins with the two hemispheres of the Earth and becomes more detailed as children learn about the continents and the countries.

Children begin their study of the Earth at a very young age by using the wooden puzzle maps as puzzles. As they get older, the children use the puzzles to make their own maps and label them with their own handwriting. Not only can children learn the continent’s physical boundaries, but can also immerse themselves in the continent’s cultures, daily life, art, music, dance, food, religion, and literature.

Science and Nature:

As with all other areas of the Montessori classroom, the science curriculum begins with a hands-on approach to the more fundamental aspects of science and moves into more complex learning. Children are introduced to many topics and learn to observe and explore. We learn about the layers of the earth, volcanoes, characteristics of living things, the solar system, botany and many other subjects. Children learn to classify things, make predictions and test their theories. The Science and Nature curriculum instills a sense of discovery and a sense of wonder about the world.

Peace:

Respect, peacemaking, and conflict resolution are a daily part of the Montessori classroom. There is a Peace Table with beautiful, calming, enticing objects from around the world. The children touch and hold the objects and gain insight into their differing emotions. The Peace Table holds a peace object for children to use in resolving conflicts and encourages children to be good listeners and forge a mutually agreeable solution. It is also a place for children to enjoy a peaceful moment alone.

Kindergarten:

This is the culminating year of the Early-Childhood cycle which provides an extraordinary opportunity for the 5 and 6 year-olds to develop their leadership skills. Kindergartners act as positive peer models for their younger classmates. They enjoy their positions of responsibility that further strengthen their own capabilities and self-esteem. Everything that children have learned in the previous years as a Montessori student, come together in the Kindergarten year. These children are ready to meet new challenges with confidence and determination.