Early Childhood (3 years - 6 years)
Our Early Childhood classroom provides an environment that is carefully prepared to meet the needs of three to six year old children. Our classrooms are equipped with engaging materials for the students to work with, in a beautiful and peaceful setting. Dr. Montessori observed that three to six year old children effortlessly absorb information and form impressions and habits that become the basis for all future learning and behavior. They achieve early mastery of concepts and skills in reading, writing and mathematics through their work with the Montessori materials.
Each classroom features carefully selected, esthetically arranged materials where children experience an exciting process of discovery as they engage in activities according to their own developmental needs and interests. Our classrooms feature natural light, contain a full complement of Montessori materials, and have enough space to allow children to work in peace, alone or in small or large groups. Our teachers are trained to observe and respond to the individual needs and interests of the children.
Our Montessori trained teachers guide students in the areas of Practical Life, Sensory Development, Mathematics, Language, Geology, History, and Science. Children receive individual lessons, allowing each child to progress at his or her own pace.
Practical Life activities are designed to develop a sense of order, encourage independence, develop concentration, fine motor control, eye-hand coordination, and care for oneself and the environment. Activities such as sorting, matching, pouring, scooping, buttoning, tying, snapping, and polishing also prepare children for learning in other subject areas such as mathematics and language arts. As these activities become more complex, children learn to complete multi-step tasks in sequence, and their attention span is lengthened.
The Sensorial materials develop and refine the five senses - seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling - and build a foundation for speech, writing, and math. The materials are modeled on scientifically based concepts, such as metric system dimensions or algebraic formulas. Sensory experience with materials such as these is the child’s first step toward understanding the abstract concepts they represent.
The Mathematics materials and lessons help children to develop a concrete understanding of abstract math concepts. Students are introduced to concepts such as the fundamentals of the decimal system, numerical place value, fractions, and the math operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division through the manipulation of concrete materials. This builds a secure foundation of math principles, skills and problem-solving abilities.
As each math concept is internalized, the child weans him or herself naturally from concrete objects and, during the elementary years, progresses to the abstract level that is required for advanced math curriculum. This method of instruction, devised by the genius of Dr. Montessori, has proven to be successful in teaching math skills while enabling the child to enjoy working in this subject. The success that the child meets here inspires confidence and a desire to seek out future learning experiences.
Montessori observed that the three to six year old child is in a “sensitive period” for absorbing language, both spoken and written. There are many stages of development in the Language Arts curriculum, the first being oral/auditory. The Montessori Early Childhood classroom is rich in oral language opportunities- listening to stories or reciting poems, singing and conversing with others.
Language is taught through a variety of multi-sensory activities: visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic. Children work with materials that develop their fine motor skills (providing mechanical preparation for writing) and use sandpaper letters to develop letter-sound recognition.
As the child differentiates and recognizes sounds, the process of word building begins, followed by blending sounds. Then comes word reading, and the majority of language materials will fall under this category. Sentence reading is the next stage, where word recognition leads to reading and comprehension.
Cultural Subjects - Geography, History & Science
The Cultural subjects are presented sensorially with specially designed materials and real-life experiences. In geography, children learn not only about the names of countries but also about the lives of people and their respective cultures. They develop a sense of respect for different cultures, recognizing that we all belong to the family of people.
Young children are natural scientists. Watching and caring for classroom animals and plants creates an interest in science lessons and a reverence for life. Art and music give the children an opportunity for creative and joyful self-expression, as well as experiences with great music and works of art.
Developmentally appropriate field trips are carefully selected to reinforce classroom learning in thematic areas of study. Many are ‘in-house” and include experiences, such as, puppet shows, dance performances, and live animal experiences. Several times a year, the Early Childhood classrooms will go off-campus to field trip sites, such as, Wheeler Farm, Discovery Gateway, or the Hogle Zoo.
Three Year Cycle
Children typically remain in an Early Childhood classroom for three years (including the kindergarten year), before entering our Lower Elementary community (Grades 1-3). The third year of Early Childhood is considered a capstone year because it is a culmination of academic and social self-mastery. Third year students learn leadership skills and prepare for a successful elementary experience.
Assessment and Parent/Teacher Conferences
Our teachers closely observe each child's progress and readiness to move on to new lessons. They may orally question a student about what was learned, assess learning through playing games or observation, or ask the child to teach the lesson to a fellow student. We hold parent/teacher conferences twice a year so that parents may see their child’s work and hear the teacher’s assessment. Teachers provide a written narrative that explains each child's progress. Our Early Childhood program nurtures each child’s intrinsic motivation to learn, create, and engage in satisfying work.
The montessori Curriculum
Trained teachers guide each child to progress at his or her own pace in the areas of:
Respect for Self & Others