Preschool Curriculum (2 years to 6 years)
Through the Practical Life activities, your child learns valuable skills he/she can use in daily life such as setting a table, brushing teeth, and caring for plants. While your child learns these important life skills, he/she is also developing a number of other important abilities, including:
• fine and gross motor skills
• a sense of order
The Sensorial curriculum focuses on the development and refinement of your child’s senses. The activities and materials in the Sensorial curriculum help your child develop recognition of differences in color, brightness, depth, loudness, tone, texture, and all of the other sensory differences that humans experience. The Sensorial curriculum also includes a music component that introduces your child to different musical instruments – and even encourages your child to make his/her own! Also explored in this section are the concepts of rhythm and silence. As your child works on the Sensorial activities, he/she also learns to think, judge, associate, and compare – and this supports the development of his/her abstract thinking, preparing him/her for future work in Mathematics and Language Arts.
The Culture and Science curriculum gives your child the opportunity to learn about the world and his/her place in it, working with activities in geography, history, botany, zoology, and chemistry. These exciting activities appeal to your child’s sense of exploration and will foster a love of learning. Together you will gain an appreciation for the beauty of the world, its inhabitants, and the way it works.
The Language Arts curriculum focuses on the pivotal components of language — oral development, writing, parts of speech, and reading. The easy to implement activities carefully build your child’s understanding of language in a methodical and logical system. As we work with your child on these activities, he/she will quickly develop a love of language and the skills required to read confidently. Some of the proven learning outcomes of the Language Arts curriculum include:
• recognizing the written symbols of letters
• learning the phonetic sounds of letters
• combining phonetic sounds to create words
• practicing the fine motor skills required for holding a pencil and writing
• writing letters, words, and sentences
• reading short phonetic words
• identifying and applying reading concepts (blends, long vowel sounds, digraphs, etc.)
• recognizing sight words
• reading sentences and stories
• understanding the function of the parts of speech
• composing creative stories
Using a range of specifically designed Montessori materials, the activities in the Mathematics curriculum provide your child with a strong understanding of mathematics and develop his/her skills in logic and abstract thought. Some of the proven learning outcomes of the Montessori Mathematics curriculum include:
• understanding the concept of quantities
• recognizing the written symbols of numbers
• comprehending place values from units to 1,000s
• adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing with four-digit numbers
• counting to 100
• memorizing basic math facts in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division
Lower Elementary Curriculum (ages 6 to 9 years)
Montessori Curriculum for children between the ages of 6 and 9 years is based on the following 5 areas of learning:
1. Language 2. Math 3. Science, Social and Cultural Studies 4. The Arts 5. Health and Physical Education
Children are placed in groups that contain more than one grade to work together. The full curriculum is designed to be completed over a 3 year period. In keeping with the Montessori philosophy, subjects are offered in an integrated way and the children come to understand how everything they learn is interrelated. Children work at their own pace. Emphasis is placed on developing strong work habits and responsibility for completing assignments to the best of their ability. In order to accommodate a multi-age range, and to facilitate children of diverse learning styles, the Montessori curriculum is designed to cover a comprehensive range of interests and abilities. Two teachers co-teach in this learning environment for challenges and success at all levels. The teachers use a child’s curiosity, imagination and development of social skills as natural motivators for learning. Younger children are stimulated by the work that their older classmates do, while older children have an opportunity to develop strong leadership skills within the group. The multi-age classroom provides a sense of stability for the children, who ideally will work with the same teachers for three years.
Upper Elementary Curriculum Grades 4 to 8
The Montessori elementary curriculum was developed to serve the developmental needs of children from ages 6 to 12. Dr. Montessori termed this period the second plane of development. The continuity of the curriculum allows individual children to move through the various subject areas at the pace that supports mastering the subject material, building confidence and genuine self-esteem. The division of the elementary into two stages, 6 to 10 year olds and 10 to 15 year olds is based on the students’ developmental needs as they move towards adolescence. The work in the lower elementary is done with extensive Montessori material allowing the children not only to experience the depth and breadth of the curriculum, but also to become comfortable with their own learning styles. The upper elementary students, ages 9 to 15, transition to more abstract thinking relying more heavily on books and other resource material as they strengthen the work begun in the lower elementary. The overall goal of the Montessori Upper Elementary Curriculum is to provide a prepared environment that meets the needs and tendencies of the child at this stage of their development.
Overview of Elementary Language Curriculum
Our alphabet has a fascinating history, and it is with the story of “Communication in Signs” that the elementary language program begins. What part did Phoenician merchants play in the development of written symbols? What did Romans contribute? How is our alphabet different from Chinese characters? These are some of the questions the children may pose for further research. In addition, language is more than a fascinating subject of study in itself. It is the vehicle of human communication, the way in which we exchange ideas, thoughts and feelings. Thus, the language curriculum covers in depth written and spoken language, reading, grammar and research, the keys to both self-expression and the acquisition of knowledge.
For Montessori children, writing typically precedes reading. In the primary classroom, children often develop writing skills, and these, combined with the desire to communicate, lead to many varieties of written composition in the elementary classroom.
In addition to the story of written language, stories about oral language, such as “The Story of Human Speech” and “The History of the English Language,” are presented to the children. The teachers use storytelling across the curriculum to convey information and to model the power of spoken language. Children are encouraged to discuss and share their ideas with one another and with the larger group. Many choose to share their reports orally, recite poems and produce plays.
Most children begin reading in the primary classroom. In the elementary program, they continue learning to read and truly begin reading to learn. Books of all literary types are available in the classroom. Both fiction and non-fiction serve to expand the children’s knowledge and awareness. Adults and children read orally and silently throughout the day, and the children develop a love of literature. They discuss shared readings of stories and books, following a seminar format. This involves preparation of the reading and a willingness to listen and discuss, respectfully, ideas about the text.
The study of grammar in Montessori is unique. Having been introduced to the “function of words” in the primary classroom, elementary children study the parts of speech in more detail. What work does a pronoun do and how is it related to the verb? If its place is changed in the sentence, does the meaning remain the same? Each part of speech has a distinctive, colorful symbol. Children place these symbols above the words of a poem or a prose passage to “see its grammatical structure.” Later, they begin to analyze the style of different writers using the grammar symbols.
Visits to the library off campus with parents give the children opportunities to find out more about language. They learn to use reference materials, and they come to appreciate the library as a source of many kinds of information. Their language research may involve the comparison of works by a particular author, the derivation of idioms, or a multi-cultural study of similar folk tales. Library visits are one of many kinds of language explorations children undertake beyond the classroom.
Overview of Elementary Math Curriculum
The “Story of Numbers” helps children understand the power of mathematics and motivates them to continue exploring numbers. Progression through the Montessori math curriculum is not strictly linear. Instead, Maria Montessori envisioned elementary math as a three-tiered progression. The first tier consists of the numbers to ten, place value and the four operations. The second tier is dedicated to the memorization of math facts. The third tier is where the children study hierarchy, that is, how the numbers in the decimal system are related and grouped. The children explore different concepts of math simulation.
Children frequently ask for the biggest problems possible. They also enjoy writing their own BIG problems. The younger children practice using the materials representing whole numbers, fractions and decimals, and through repeated experiences with them, they “discover” algorithms or concepts by themselves or under the guidance of the teacher.
Montessori places great emphasis on the study of geometry, and all the math materials have a geometric aspect. Children in the lower elementary classrooms study lines, angles and plane figures, as well as linear and cubic measurement. In the upper elementary the children use boxes of cubes and prisms, which they previously manipulated in the primary classroom, to cube a binomial or trinomial. Through their studies, the students are able to discover abstract concepts of algebra, using materials that once were a part of their sensorial experiences.
The upper elementary children also take great delight in further study of different systems of numeration, both those used by ancient civilizations and other possible systems, such as base two or base twelve.
Overview of Elementary Biology Curriculum
Plants and animals are an essential part of the elementary environment. Some reside in the classroom while others visit. As children observe and care for these living things, they acquire the experiential basis for their future understanding and love of biology. They further extend their knowledge by going out to wildlife sanctuaries, arboretums and nature parks to view animals and plants in their natural habitats.
With this foundation, children become interested in studying the wide variety of life forms on our planet. They read, “Who am I” stories about the lives and characteristics of plants and animals. They examine specimens of different invertebrates and vertebrates. They perform plant experiments that demonstrate the basic functions of each part of a plant.
Although the plant and animal kingdoms receive the most attention, all five kingdoms of living organisms are introduced: Monera, Protista, Fungi, Plant and Animal. Children study the anatomy, physiology and classification of living things using classroom resources such as books, card material and charts. They write reports, ranging in complexity from a simple study of one organism, to a more advanced study of several organisms. Similarities and differences are noted.
Out of the comparative study of life forms, the children make connections between present-day organisms and their predecessors on the “Time Line of Life”. As conditions on earth changed, organisms that were more complex evolved. In satisfying its needs, each creature seemed to contribute to, or create a niche for, another. As insects evolved, so did flowering plants. Furthermore, these interdependencies still exist today. A lichen breaks down the rock upon which it lives, creating soil, in which mosses can grow. The interdependence of all things in the universe is stressed, with people being the most powerful living thing, but also the most dependent. An appreciation and sense of wonder unfolds as the harmony of creation is revealed.
Overview of Elementary Geography Curriculum
Geography, the study of our home, the Earth, opens the door to the elementary curriculum. It sets the stage for the unfolding of the Earth’s story, from its inception to its present state. We begin with the story of “The Creation of the Universe” to give a vision of the whole. Then we move to more detailed studies of the Earth and its place in the universe. Geography is thus fully integrated with the physical sciences. In fact, as children learn about the Earth and its place in the universe, they form an intellectual framework for all their studies. From the non-living world to the succession of life forms, to human beings and the development of their unique abilities, children study all the sciences and humanities in relation to one another.
In the study of history and geography, we inspire the children to explore. Maria Montessori called her course of studies for elementary children “Cosmic Education”. There are two principals involved in this concept. First, we always begin with a study of “the whole”, which gives the children a unique vision and a holistic foundation for their education. Second, we emphasize that each part of the cosmos is related and contributes to the whole. As the children study geography and other subjects, they become interested not merely in the world and how it functions, but in their individual roles and what part they might play in the continuing story of humanity.
After geography lessons, the children’s questions are greeted with enthusiasm. They lead to conversation, experiments and reading. Research and reports may follow. In this way the children’s interest and understanding develop. They actively engage in the study of the sciences, using the resources available within the classroom, around the school environment, and in the community. For example, “the age of volcanoes” section of the creation story often leads to a study of extinct volcanoes and the “Ring of Fire”, or it could lead to the study of the rock cycle. Children may initiate further studies beyond the classroom, such as a visit to a natural science museum or an interview with a geology professor. The older children may also plan field studies away from home that support their explorations of study.
Overview of Elementary History Curriculum
Maria Montessori wished for children to recognize the contributions of great and unknown persons to modern civilizations. We thank the inventor of the wheel and the medieval scribes for their contributions to history. According to Dr. Montessori, each child has a significant role to play as contributor to the family and society.
The child’s personal sense of time is the starting point for the history curriculum. By noting the passage of days, months, and birthdays, the children develop this awareness of time. Children create personal and family time lines a precursor to their work with time lines of human history. We also develop a historical sense of time through the “Time Line of Early People”, and then the B.C.E/C.E. Time Line. These visual aids, presented with stories, specimens and artifacts, help the children understand the evolution of life and development of civilizations.
The children study this panoply of history in detail and there is particular emphasis placed on world history. During their research, the children make links between classical and modern civilizations. They also engage in field studies to enhance their understanding and appreciation of history. They often read the literature of a particular civilization or study their language and sometimes they write and perform plays based on historical events or literary figures.
Overview of Elementary Art Curriculum
Students use a wide variety of art techniques for presentations and projects. The students are periodically introduced to media and basic art principles such as the use of lines and light. The children expand on the principles of music with body movements, instrumental accompaniment and song. They also use musical instruments as well as their voices.