Our Montessori preschool environment supports the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development of the child. The teacher thoughtfully prepares the classroom environment to invite curiosity and stimulate learning. By making independent choices, the child develops self-motivation, self‐regulation, and problem-solving skills. Learning moves from the concrete to the abstract through manipulating, experimenting, and discovering.
The three‐year cycle is a fundamental element of Montessori education. Within this model, the youngest child looks to and learns from her older peers, who act as role models and classroom leaders. The child remains in the same classroom for three years, beginning as a three-year-old and finishing as a Kindergarten student. The materials are familiar and many routines remain the same. This consistency from year to year provides security and a sense of ownership, and as children develop and change, their use of the materials changes too. For example, for the first-year child, some materials are fascinating but too challenging for the moment. This child will observe older students working, though, and will one day be ready. In his final year in the classroom, the child masters these challenging concepts. Competence, confidence, and pride are the gifts of the three‐year cycle.
The Montessori language curriculum is designed to parallel the child’s natural unfolding of the mysteries of language. Lessons are presented as appropriate, with careful consideration for the child’s absorbent mind, and her sensitive periods for oral/auditory language, writing, and reading. Since spoken language is the first point of access for the typical hearing child, we begin our language education in the classroom with oral and auditory work. We engage the child in active, pleasant conversations as often as possible, listening to what she has to say, demonstrating the give and take of a conversation, and building her self-esteem. We use clear, precise words to provide the richness and diversity of language to build a strong vocabulary. Beyond conversations and vocabulary lessons, we practice poems, fingerplays, and songs. Later, the child receives direct instruction in the formation of letters, writing, and eventually, reading.
The Mathematics curriculum area allows the child to begin the journey from concrete to abstract mathematical explorations. First, the child practices counting numbers 1-10, working with materials that give true impressions of these quantities. As the child moves through the mathematics curriculum, he uses increasingly abstract materials, practices the four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) and memorizes math facts.
Science activities give the child opportunities for prediction and observation. These materials present facts, nomenclature, and classification of botany, zoology, and physical science.
Kindergarten students have additional opportunities in Science and Engineering. They work with the Science teacher once every other week in the Science Lab to reinforce and enrich the concepts introduced to them in the classroom. In addition, they complete a project in our Engineering Workshop that enables students to:
Maria Montessori designed the Cultural Studies curriculum as an interdisciplinary study of the life of man on earth throughout time and in all geographic regions. It includes the study of geography, history, music, art, and science. It encompasses all cultural subjects as part of a meaningful whole. Maria Montessori's primary goal was for education to help the child become a fully developed individual adapted to his time and place; to be a citizen of tomorrow; and a participant in a harmoniously functioning society. The Cultural subjects give the child an understanding of unity and bring the world into the classroom.
GRACE AND COURTESY, COMMUNICATION (CONFLICT RESOLUTION), GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP
In the Preschool Program, the principles of Grace and Courtesy become the scaffolding that serves to support the rest of the curriculum. From the very first day of school, teachers emphasize the importance of self‐care, care of one’s environment, and care of one another. There are many opportunities for the children to practice these principles throughout their day as they interact with classmates and their environment. Children learn to take turns speaking, listening when another person speaks and communicating their own needs and desires in a clear, kind way. Using a Peace Rose or other object that serves as a “talking tool”, even the youngest child learns to take turns speaking and listening for conflict resolution. The Montessori Grace and Courtesy curriculum is complemented by our school-wide social-emotional framework called RULER.
Through the Cultural curriculum, the children hear stories and read non-fiction books about people from other cultures, what their foods look and taste like, what their homes and schools are like, and what kinds of things children do for fun. Kingsley parents come into the classrooms to share family traditions and holidays through songs, stories, food, and art.
A young child meets the world around him through the constant use of all of his senses. Through sight, touch, sound, taste, and smell, the Sensorial Montessori materials enable each child to clarify, classify, and comprehend his world. The Montessori program offers a multi‐sensory approach to learning, encouraging a child to use all senses for learning.
The Sensorial materials enable a child to internalize such concepts as size, shape, color, sound, similarities, and differences. These skills provide a basis for concurrent and future activities in math, music, and language.
CONCENTRATION, COORDINATION, ORDER, INDEPENDENCE
While mastery of physical skills and useful works are important, the direct aims of the Practical Life area are internal and give the child freedom to develop her learning in any area of the curriculum. In Practical Life, she develops concentration, coordination, a sense of order, and independence. A child practices building her attention span by engaging in meticulous work, at an appropriate level of challenge, which she has selected for herself. It is common to see even the youngest child totally engrossed with their pouring or spooning for an extended period of time. The child will develop the ability to control and call upon this concentration as she continues to practice in all areas of the classroom. Moving with extreme care is also essential for success in this area, and allows the child to practice grace and use fragile materials successfully.
Practical Life works encourage independence in two key ways. First, they teach important life skills that the child can use in his life. A child who can dress himself or prepare his own meals will be more independent than a child who cannot. Then, as the child takes responsibility for himself, his sense of independence and competency compounds, building upon itself. The child’s need for order is honed by the precise motions and specific steps necessary to properly complete these activities. As he practices order in the physical world, a kind of mental order develops.