The Montessori Curriculum is based on the philosophy of Dr. Maria Montessori. The children are given free choice within a prepared environment. Each curriculum area is designed with specific direct and indirect aims using didactic materials. The goals of the curriculum are to nurture the child’s mind, body and spirit and to foster a love of learning.
The direct aims of practical life are concentration, coordination, order and independence. All of the exercises that are within this area help the child learn skills important to everyday life. They also allow the child to work on the skills he needs to take care of himself and the environment around him. As a child progresses with the work and achieves new skills, his confidence and independence continually grow. The practical life area connects the child to the environment and to others in the classroom. It is through the purposeful work and confidence attained that these connections can be made.
The Sensorial area contains activities that focus on strategies for observations. Students are led to make comparisons between objects, form judgments, to reason and to decide. The sensorial materials are designed for each of the senses in isolation from the other, and are meant to develop the child’s conceptual ability. Through the work in this area the child gains new knowledge and refinement of the senses, allowing him to easily transition to the other curriculum areas in the classroom.
Montessori believed that if children were taught math in a tangible way, they could develop their math skills as easily as language. She viewed math as a language for understanding measurable relationships in our experiences and as a way of looking at the world. Math materials were designed to develop mathematical concepts using didactic materials that present a clear idea of number. Geometry, algebra and arithmetic are all connected in the Montessori classroom, just as they are in life. Once a child is comfortable with the math information he has obtained and internalized, further work is presented which leads to abstraction.
The language area begins with enrichment of vocabulary. Familiar objects of the environment are introduced to the children and discussed, encouraging conversation amongst the children as well as introducing new vocabulary. They also aid the child in classifying the environment around him. Also included in language is the preparation of the hand for writing. The didactic materials that are introduced to the child in language use the visual, tactile and auditory senses. Using these senses allow us to teach the phonetic alphabet, as well as help the child establish the muscular memory of movements necessary to write letters. These, along with other preparatory exercises within the language curriculum, lead the child to early reading.
The purpose of Science in the Montessori pre-primary classroom is to encourage scientific thought and to condition students toward sound scientific habits. This is accomplished through the use and observation of materials using all five senses, as well as the introduction of the Scientific Method. This encourages enthusiasm for science and exploration.
Geography in the Montessori classroom helps the child become aware of their place in the world. This begins with the individual child in the classroom and ends with the universe. Materials used in geography are globes, maps, flags and land and water forms. Different countries and cultures are also explored to expand the child’s understanding of the world. This begins the process of accepting the similarities and differences of people throughout the world and to peace education.
Through art children are able to explore, express, create and develop self. The art curriculum will include introductions to different artists, as well as an array of different techniques and mediums. The children will be able to enjoy the freedom of their own artistic expression. The value of art for children includes:
- Promotes creativity
- Builds fine motor skills
- Precursor to writing
- Develops problem solving abilities
The sensitive period for language occurs between birth and six years old, and a second language is easier to learn at this time. Montessori described a sensitive period as a time during which the child has an especially strong sensitivity towards a particular piece of knowledge or skill. Spanish such as numbers, colors, nouns and verbs will be taught in a creative and engaging manner and used intermittently in the classroom on a daily basis. Learning a second language offers the following benefits:
- Has a positive effect on intellectual growth
- Enriches and enhances a child’s mental development
- Helps students to have more flexibility in thinking
- Creates a greater sensitivity to language
- Introduces other cultures and develops appreciation of people from parts of the world
American Sign Language
ASL will be taught to the students and used in the classroom on a daily basis. Many studies have been done on the positive effects of young children learning ASL, and a few are listed below:
- Aids in emotional development
- Enables children to communicate effectively
- Helps children remember words because there is muscle memory involved
- Improves attentiveness to social gestures of others as well as of themselves
The many benefits of yoga and mindfulness are becoming more recognized every day, and their introduction to children is extremely important in today’s world. Benefits of yoga include:
- Manage stress through breathing, awareness, meditation and healthy movement
- Build concentration
- Increase self-confidence and positive self-image
- Develop body awareness
- Learn how to use their bodies in a healthy way
Most children respond positively to music, especially combined with movement. During music, the children will experience song, dance and exposure to different musical instruments. It has been found that music has the following effects:
- Helps body and mind work together
- Aids in children learning sounds and meanings of words
- Increases math awareness
- Unites all areas of child development and skills for school readiness