Summary of Curriculum
Dr. Montessori separated the curriculum into five areas, Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Mathematics and Cultural. The didactic materials used in each area increase in difficulty as the learner progresses through the material at their own pace. The story of the universe plays a very important role in Montessori education, because anything that can be learned, began at the beginning and is intricately connected to everything else. All the areas of study overlap with the other areas which allows each learner to experience a more holistic view of every subject and to invites the learner to dive deeper into the areas that spark the greatest interest.
Young children, have a natural urge to partake in the activities of daily living and to be a participating member of family life. Simple chores adults may take for granted fascinate the child and engages them in the meaningful learning of life skills. Practical life activities help children develop and coordinate movement, awareness of the environment, orderly thought patterns, independent work habits, and responsibility.
The lessons in Practical Life include:
Preliminary Exercises- preparing the fine motor skills for more challenging activities (spooning, pouring, stringing, etc.)
Care of the Environment- learning to respect and care for the tools in the space where the child lives and learns (food preparation, sweeping, dusting, washing, polishing, etc)
Care of the Person- learning the basics of self care skills (hand washing, nose blowing, dressing, nutrition, etc.)
Grace and Courtesy- learning social skills (walking carefully, communication, manners, table setting, hosting a guest, etc.)
These materials and activities are iconic Montessori. They allow children to pursue their natural tendency to classify sensorial impressions and sort by size, shape, color, touch, sound, and weight. The sensorial materials isolate specific qualities, have a built in control of error, allow for repetition, and make abstract qualities concrete. Sensorial activities lay a foundation for math, geometry, language, geography, botany, art, and music.
An introduction to mathematics is given through simple counting exercises such as counting the napkins when setting the table, counting the children as they line up, and through counting songs and rhymes. Each learner’s mathematical sense is built on the strong foundation of the sensorial materials where many fundamental concepts, such as length, volume, gradation, sequencing, grouping and so on, have been already experienced via the senses. These activities make the abstract concepts of mathematics concrete for hands on learning. Each activity isolates a particular concept and integrates with other activities to form a strong foundation for further exploration.
Learners are immersed in language the moment they enter the classroom. Spoken language is encouraged as children communicate with each other individually, in small groups, and in large groups. A library of books is available for enjoyment and information. Stories are read and told individually, in small and large groups. Phonemic awareness is taught through hands on activities and games, the alphabet is learned with fun and interesting sorting and matching works. Handwriting is practiced through tracing shapes, sandpaper letters, and using chalkboards. Moveable alphabet letters are used for building words, and labels are used all over for word recognition. Reading for 4 or 5-year olds in a Montessori program usually follows an immersion in writing activities, mostly done using the moveable alphabets. The children spontaneously synthesize all of the phonemes they have learned and the sight words they have been given and often discover that one day they can now read. In addition to a wide range of suitable fiction and non-fiction books in each classroom, there are vocabulary cards in relation to every subject area (nomenclature of everyday objects, geometry, science, world cultures, etc.). Enrichment of vocabulary across the curriculum is a constant focus in the Primary classroom.
This area of the Montessori classroom integrates science, geography, history, art, music and cultural traditions from around the world. The story of the universe plays a very important role in Montessori education, because anything that can be learned, began at the beginning and is intricately connected to everything else. All the areas of study are integrating and overlap each other which allows each learner to experience a more wholistic view of every subject and to dive deeper into the ones that spark the greatest interest. We use the timeline of creation as a kind of overall guide to introducing Cultural area concepts while keeping in mind the interests of the children will dictate specific directions. Each month or so we change the concentration to a different area beginning with astronomy and concepts of time, proceeding through the Earth sciences of geology, geography, botany and zoology and integrating Human cultures from around the world along the way.
Science Children are introduced to some basic concepts of physical science, geology, astronomy, botany, zoology and more. Sensorial exploration and experimentation is key as children learn about the natural world. Works that include measuring, comparing, classifying, and keen observing, are carefully prepared and practiced. For example, mixing colors allows for open-ended work while other activities isolate individual concepts such as sink and float, magnets, etc. Care for plants and animals overlap with practical life activities and teach science as well as responsibility. Children also learn the basic characteristics, nomenclature and classification for plants, animals, planets, minerals and other living and nonliving phenomena in their science work.
Geography These materials help the child learn about the facts of the material world. Working with the sensorial, language and cultural materials related to geography is an important part of the work of a Montessori Primary classroom. The very young children are introduced early to a sandpaper globe where they can have a visual and tactile experience of the Earth. Other sensorial materials and puzzle maps are used by the children to explore the continents of our world, the countries of each continent, and the states of our own country. They also create key land and water forms such as lake, island, and peninsula. Geography vocabulary is given both orally and with prepared nomenclature cards that are used by the children as an integrated part of their language work.
History and World Cultures History begins with the story of creation and the connectedness of all things. Learners are introduced to the basic concepts of time including, seasons, months and the tools we use to track time like clocks and calendars. The children are also introduced to the diversity of international cultures by means of stories, songs, celebrations, pictures, art and artifacts. We invite and welcome all our families to share their own cultural traditions and stories with us if they would like to do so.
Students experience art, gardening, music, languages, yoga, dance and other physical movement as in integrated part of the whole program. Regular singing, movement, and use of musical instruments is offered to all children individually and in groups.