Preschool and Kindergarten Curriculum Information
Practical Life – A child is naturally attracted to activities that give him or her independence. Children seek autonomy and control of their lives. Practice with pouring, carrying, serving, tying, sweeping and washing are a few examples of exercises that help the young child to coordinate his movement and establish order and good working habits. Practical life exercises also help develop a longer attention span, deeper concentration and precision. Because lessons are presented in a left to right and top to bottom manner, they provide an indirect preparation for reading. Advanced exercises include cooking, weaving, crochet, sewing and woodworking.
Sensorial – The sensorial materials help the child to develop order and clarity in thinking. They include activities to aid the child to classify, discriminate, and to compare and contrast size, weight, shape, texture, color, taste, sound and smell. Most sensorial materials are mathematically based and provide opportunities for movement and intellectual challenges. Additionally, they introduce a rich vocabulary to the children.
Language – The language activities explore the sound/symbol relationship through the use of objects, movable alphabet letters, and reading cards. Skills gained in practical life and sensorial work help prepare the child for reading, writing and grammar. Language is taught phonetically and multi-sensorially – with visual, auditory and kinesthetic activities. Quality children’s literature is presented daily. Our school library helps to promote a love of reading.
Mathematics – Hands on materials include exercises in quantity, symbols, place value and relationships between quantities. Because the work progresses from concrete to abstract using manipulative materials, children easily grasp mathematical concepts in addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, and geometry. The exercises not only teach the child to calculate, but they provide a deep understanding of place value and how numbers function.
Science/Geography – These activities are designed to help the child become aware of and appreciate the diversity of the world. By examining the human, plant and animal world, the child gains exposure to the life that surrounds him or her. The child is taught a respect for taking care of his or her environment. Continent and county studies introduce the child to people, geography, music, food and art.
Extra Curricular – Our curriculum is far reaching and is often triggered by the children’s interest. As the class gets excited about an idea, our teachers bring in materials, music, food, speakers, and lessons. Children also have weekly Spanish instruction. Students may also elect to enroll in special classes after school hours including: music, dance, sports, gymnastics, tennis, ceramics, and chess.
Elementary Curriculum Information
Completion of the Montessori preschool and kindergarten program does not mark the end of the Montessori experience. In fact, it is a new beginning in the child’s learning potential. By age six, the child is ready to build upon the concrete learning pathways of preschool and move to the more abstract concepts in the elementary program. These new concepts include thinking about the big ideas of the universe. Student trace the timeline of all living things through geology, physical science and biology demonstrations and experiments. These lessons provide a framework of our curriculum and carry a common theme that all living things have a cosmic role in life and are all interconnected. As humans, our job is to strive for our potential, carrying out our role, just as the sun does its best job to warm and protect us, or a plant does its job to provide oxygen and food. Stories, activities and lessons continue to provide the important theme to the students. In time, they discover their potential and cosmic place. Helping children to see their importance on earth is a central theme. Once a child realizes his or her significance, everything else we do in class becomes easy and rewarding.
Of course, the program also offers the same benefits of the preschool program: individualized education, cooperative group work, choice of activity and independence. The children also learn how to manage their time and resources, as they are held accountable for completion of daily, weekly and long-term assignments. They quickly learn that privileges are earned and consequences experienced when time is not utilized efficiently. Because we cannot predict what our ever changing world will require our children to know 15 or 20 years from now, our goal is not so much what the children learn, but rather what to do and where to go for new knowledge. Study skills, presentation techniques, and computers, reference books are all part of the program.
Our broad curriculum absolutely exceeds state standards with areas of study including:
- Language: Reading, Spelling, Grammar, Word Study, Creative Writing, Literature, Handwriting, Greek and Latin Roots, Bookmaking, Poetry
- Mathematics: Counting, Place Value, the Four Operations, Decimal System, Fractions, Time, Money, Geometry, Graphing, Logic, Problem Solving, Probability, Squaring, Cubing and Alegebra
- Science: Botany, Zoology, Ecology, Geology, Nutrition, Human Body Study, Chemistry, Physical Science
- History and Social Studies: Physical and Political Geography, Economics, Timeline of Life, Early Humans, Ancient Civilizations, Middle Ages, Renaissance, Age of Exploration, Native Americans, American History, Politics, Idaho History, and Philosophy
- Advanced Practical Life Skills: Cooking, sewing, woodworking, calligraphy, weaving, plant and pet care. We maintain a well-kept classroom thanks to the weekly student jobs such as washing lunch dishes, vacuuming, dusting, sweeping, recycling and taking out the trash.
- Enrichment: Art, Drama, Music, Music History and Appreciation, Computer, Physical Education and Spanish. Optional classes include: chess, orchestra and ceramics.
Community Service: Students are actively engaged in a number of community service activities. We feel strongly about helping the children find creative ways to support others. From volunteering at the Fire Department and the public library, to serving as student teachers in our preschool classrooms, children naturally love to help. Children also love to help the earth. River clean up walks, and water quality testing, and raking yards for the elderly have been part of the program. Additionally, children bake for the women and children’s clinic each week, and in some years, they have loved visiting the senior community a few times a month. Organizations our class has supported include: St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Pennies for Peace, Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots, Hope International, and Heifer International.
Assessment: The Montessori curriculum is carefully sequenced. Teachers record all student progress through careful observation. Each child’s progress is assessed individually and he or she is not compared to performance of other children. Therefore, traditional letter grades are not necessary. Children are simply presented the next lesson as they master the one before. This creates an uncompetitive environment of safety and acceptance. Children thrive when they do not feel rushed and stressed. Teachers have conferences with parents twice a year, in which they discuss the child’s progress and areas of growth. Students are actively involved in preparing for these meetings. Teachers are available year round for additional meetings.
Homework: Children are especially focused and productive during our three-hour stretch of work time each morning. Teachers stay in close touch with their studies and carefully look over all work that is accomplished each day. For this reason, we do not find reason to send home repetitive work. Therefore, homework for our students is very light. Daily reading is expected. Weekly spelling and practice with new math facts are practiced. We also invite active participation in home life – shopping, making dinner, a share of family work, etc. We support the participation in team sports and many of our students play musical instruments. Occasionally, a student may need some reinforcement of a skill, at which point the parents and teachers discuss a home plan. As the students get into upper elementary grades, a light amount of homework is expected to help the children develop the skill of accountability. This homework includes practical daily living skills, journaling, and high level thinking games and logic.
Nutrition: Our schools feel strongly about the whole child – body, mind and spirit. Our wonderful materials address the mind, and our community building addresses the spirit. But neither will be at their best if we do not take care of the body. Therefore, we have a low sugar policy and encourage healthy lunches and snacks free of sugar preservatives and artificial ingredients. Several times a year our classes have community lunches with loads of vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
Long Term Benefits
Many people ask how well a child will later transition to a traditional school. Because our teachers blend the Montessori math, language, science, and geography materials with the use of some traditional materials, the children are well equipped at any age to transition out of Montessori. In fact, they leave our school with skills that will aid them the rest of their lives: flexibility, problem solving, questioning strategies, research experience, and high academic skills. We expose the children to a vast variety of learning materials and also emphasize life-long learning, respect and cooperation. A typical Montessori elementary child is not only intellectually very competent, but also possesses leadership, collaboration skills, and a love of learning that far surpasses most others. The expense of a Montessori education pays for itself by the child’s later successes often seen in the form of high school leadership positions, scholarships and acceptance to respected universities.