The first three years of a child’s life is a time of rapid development and discovery. It is during this time that the child begins to reveal the man he is to become. The toddler community provides the child with an atmosphere of freedom and respect where his blossoming independence is encouraged. He is given the freedom to make the choices and to explore his own interests. While learning to care for his self, his community and his environment the child will develop and practice skills that prepare him for life.
Each environment has been prepared by a specifically trained and certified Montessori Guide. The Guide chooses materials that meet the needs of each individual child and that facilitate exploration, discovery, practice and independence. The Guide’s role in the community is to follow and observe the child; discovering his needs and interests as they are revealed. The Guide also offers assistance in a way that helps the child to help himself.
It is our hope that every child will leave the toddler community with a foundation of confidence, strength and independence upon which he will construct his future self.
Early Childhood Curriculum
The Early Childhood program is a three year cylce. The third year culminates in a ‘year of fuition’ where all the parts of the classroom are realized as integrated and logical by the child, who has by the end of the cycle acquired leadership, social awareness and emotional intelligence to take with him to the next stage of his formation.
The curriculum is framed in a ‘prepared environment’ which includes these areas:
Practical Life- This area of the curriculum is designed to invite the young learner to act and work on real life tasks that foster independence, coordination, order and concentration. The materials develop a work cycle that flows into all the other areas of the classroom.
Mathematics- The central purpose of the Math meterials in the early years is to lay the foundation for later cognitive development and to prepare for the gradual transition to abstract thinking. Montessori students use hands-on learning with concrete materials that make abstract concepts clear and concrete.
Sensorial- Dr. Montessori saw the senses as the “doorway to the mind.” She considered sensory and manipulation not only an aid to the development of maturing sense organs (eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin) but a starting point for the intellectual growth.
Language- The language area contains a large variety of reading readiness materials, including materials for phonetic analysis, reading, as well as materials for the refinement of motor control for writing. The child begins by exploring the sounds that compose words and by relating them to the letters of the alphabet. He can soon produce words and sentences. Simultaneously, he trains his hand to become precise for the writing movements. Reading is prepared indirectly from writing. Reading skills normally develop so smoothly in Montessori classrooms that sudents tend to exhibit a sudden “reading explosion” which leave the children and their families beaming with pride.
Science, Geography, Culture and Arts- The Science curriculum includes a sound introduction to botany, zoology, chemistry, physics, geology and astronomy. The Montessori approach to science cultivates children’s fascination with the universe. History and Geography are introduced as early as age three. The youngest students work with specifically designed maps and begin to learn the names of the world’s continents and countries. Through cultural experiences within the classroom, they learn to appreciate diversity among friends. Music, Art and Movement offer children ways to express themselves, their feelings, experiences and ideas.
Lower Elementary Curriculum (LE)
At six, there is a great transformation in the child, like a new birth. The child wants to explore society and the world, to learn what is right and wrong, and to explore meaningful roles in society. The child of this age wants to know how everything came to be, the history of the universe, the world, humans and why they behave the way they do. He asks the BIG questions and wants answers.
Maria Montessori referred to her elementary program as “cosmic education”; unifying the disparate subjects into a unified whole. From her book To Educate the Human Potential Chapter 1, “The six-year-old confronted with the Cosmic Plan”:
“Since it has been seen to be necessary to give so much to the child, let us give him a vision of the whole universe. The universe is an imposing reality, and an answer to all questions.” MM
The Five Great Lessons are an important and unique part of the Montessori curriculum. These lessons are bold, exciting, and are designed to awaken a child’s imagination and curiosity. The child should be struck with the wonder of creation, thrilled with new ideas, and awed by the inventiveness and innovation that is part of the human spirit. The Five Great Lessons that are used to paint a broad picture before moving to more specific study. They consist of:
The Beginning- The First Great Lesson weaves a tale of the origins of the universe and our own planet. Using impressionistic charts and experiments directly related to the basic physical properties of matter, a foundation is made for the future study of physics, chemistry, astronomy and geology.
The Time Line of Life- This time line represents the beginnings of life on Earth from the simplest forms through the appearance of human beings. A great variety a magnificence of life is presented with each organism a contributor to a vast, ineffable cosmic scheme.
The Coming of Humans- Continuing the exploration of life on Earth, this time line stresses the development of humans from the earliest beings through the use of tools.
The History of Writing- A theme area rather than a specific time line (although time lines may be developed), this follows the development of writing from its appearance in the primitive cultures to its role in the modern society.
The History of Mathematics- Also a theme area, this lesson involves the use of mathematics as an expression of the refinement of the human mind and as a response to the specific needs as well as the shared needs of human groups.
A defining feature of our school is its outdoor education program. We consider our outdoor spaces as the place where curiosity, excitement and wonder begin. Outside is a place to play, investigate and imagine. We have herb and vegetable gardens that require attention, and our children prepare, plant, water, weed and harvest! We are a registered Wildlife Habitat and as such, it is our obligation and privilege to provide food, shelter and water to the living things that reside here.
Our Montessori School offers a unique cycle of learning designed to take advantage of the child’s sensitive years between birth and 6 years and first years of early elementary, when they can absorb information from an enriched environment.
“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”.