Children grow in our program to have an incredible sense of self-confidence, enthusiasm for learning. They feel closely bonded to their teachers and classmates. We want much more than competency in the basic skills; we want to them to be inspired by learning and feel good about themselves as students.
The exercises in Practical Life are the very heart of Montessori Casa education. As young children wash tables, pour liquids, polish silver, sweep and dust, they are developing the inner aptitudes of calmness, order, concentration, coordination, and fine motor skills. At the same time, through the process of learning to meet their own needs, learning to take care of the classroom environment, and through the experience of helping others, children in Montessori programs begin to develop independence, self-confidence, and self-respect.
In working with the sensorial materials, the children take things apart, put them back together, and think about what they do. This gives them practice in the highest thinking skills of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. It leads to mature questioning, research and true creativity. The youngest children in the environment catch the enthusiasm of the older ones as they make their discoveries and reach toward the more sophisticated materials, all the while enjoying their own pursuits.
The Montessori Language Arts curriculum is designed to enhance the students’ skills in reading, comprehension, writing and speaking, and to provide connections with history, literature, science, math, and geography.
The Montessori Mathematics program consists of sequential exercises that start with more concrete lessons, and move forward into the highly abstract. The fundamental goal of Montessori education is to stimulate the child’s reasoning ability by developing the mathematical mind. The math presentations require the use of concrete materials to be manipulated and explored until the child’s mind spontaneously reaches the point of consciousness where the concrete becomes the abstract and the child fully understands.
The area of Culture in Montessori education is broad. It encompasses exercises in the areas of botany, zoology, earth sciences, history and geography and the arts. Through an interrelated, interactive experience with the materials in this area of the classroom, the children gain a deep understanding of the world in which they live.
Practical life ( care of self, others and the environment )
These words reveal the child’s inner needs: “Help me to do it myself.”
Practical Life Exercises are the foundation of the Montessori environment; provide a wholesome range of activities which allow the children to develop control and coordination of movement, awareness of their environment, orderly thought patterns, independent work habits, responsibility, and many other characteristics which can only be attained through spontaneous, purposeful work.
Transferring Exercises in the Practical Life Area provide interesting opportunities for the child to build eye-hand coordination, develop focus and attention, refine motor skills and hone muscular control.
This procedure promotes what Montessori calls “integration of the mind and the body” which is the primary foundation for the child’s “development of will”. The child discovers that he can conduct his bodily movements through the direction of his will. When translated to a life skill, this gives the child confidence in facing challenging activities realizing that he can practically accomplish any task as long as he wills it.
The exercises in Practical Life are the very heart of Montessori education. As young children wash tables, pour liquids, polish silver, sweep and dust, they are developing the inner aptitudes of calmness, order, concentration, coordination, and fine motor skills. At the same time, through the process of learning to meet their own needs, learning to take care of the classroom environment, and through the experience of helping others, children in Montessori programs begin to develop independence, self-confidence, and self-respect.
Children develop coordinated movement through their activities in the world. The Montessori classroom activities allow children opportunities to perfect their movements and become coordinated.
An aspect of movement is “walking on the line”. Initially just walking on the line, children carry objects such as a basket, flag or bell. As a child learns to control their body movements, they become more confident. It is an amazing sight to see a young child carrying a bell walking around the line without the bell ringing.
To assist the child in the development of their whole body with graceful movements, the Directress demonstrates walking heel to toe on the line. Initially, the Directress shows the children how to walk with care and invites children to do the same. As children are walking on the line, watching where they are walking, they are learning how to balance and carry their body. A simple march or rhythm can be added so the children move with the beat.
Practical life work provides practice in eye-hand coordination, the control of large and small muscles, the ability to walk and to carry objects with control, and to behave with knowledge of good manners. These are the activities that bring the child’s attention to his own progress and development, and that open up a world of important work.
Individual Dressing Frames present a variety of activities, which introduce self-help skills – buttoning, lacing, zipping, etc. While doing these exercises, children also hone fine finger motor skills, understand the importance of sequence in tasks, as well as enhance focus and concentration.
Pouring exercises offer the child the means of caring for himself and his environment. As well, they build confidence in the young child and allow his independent nature to flourish. When presented to the children, they are shown how to do pouring without spilling the contents of the vessels. Mind-hand coordination is developed as the children exert their efforts to pour in the same manner presented by the teacher. Thus, all their focus and attention, their entire body concentrates to complete “pouring without spilling”.
This section of the classroom assists the children in refining their sensory experiences of the world. This gives them practice in the highest thinking skills of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. It leads to mature questioning, research and true creativity when they put things back together in new ways. The youngest children in the environment catch the enthusiasm of the older ones as they make their discoveries and reach toward the more sophisticated materials, all the while enjoying their own pursuits. Children from birth to age six are in their “sensitive period” for exploring the world through their senses, providing children with many opportunities to make sensorial connections in the classroom or home. By our careful selection of items of different textures, colors, sizes, and geometric shapes, children will discover relationships and exclaim, “This bolt is hexagonal. This button is rough. The cinnamon box smells sweet. The cymbals are loud.” Sensorial experiences indirectly prepare children for future exploration of languages, mathematics, geometry, art, and music.
The Primary aged child possesses a remarkable ability to experience and absorb the world. We believe that the years from three to six are the most critical period for nurturing a child’s natural curiosity and for laying the foundation for all future development.
This series of cubes develops visual discrimination of size in three dimensions. Exploration with this material prepares the child for mathematical concepts in the decimal system, geometry and volume.
“The special importance of the sense of hearing comes from the fact that it is the sense organ connected with speech, therefore, to train the child’s attention to follow sounds and noises which are produced in the environment, to recognize them and to discriminate between them is to prepare his attention to follow more accurately the sounds of articulate language.” – M. Montessori
Sensorial Materials encourage individual work and repetition, and allow children to classify their sensorial impressions in an organized, orderly, and scientific manner. They have a built in control of error, which builds in the child the habit of working independently, without fear of making mistakes, becoming comfortable in the fact that errors are essential to the process of learning.
Cube of the Trinomial
The Trinomial Cube is a concrete representation of the algebraic formula (a+b+c)3. The factors of the equation are represented by cubes and prisms. The Casa Montessori child explores the Trinomial cube as a sensorial activity of visual discrimination of color and form. This indirect preparation for algebra prepares the child for further Montessori math and geometry work.
The education of the senses has, as its aim, the refinement of the differential perception of stimuli by means of repeated exercises…” -M. Montessori
In addition to the core curriculum, the children are engaged in delightful activities that instill a lifelong love of sciences, history, cultures and the arts. Our school is infused with music of many varieties and peoples. Foreign language curriculum is presented through songs, stories, games and activities that introduce students to other cultures. Each year, geography is studied in depth. Students learn about physical geography, people and flags of distant countries, and the cultural similarities that unite all people. Music, art, architecture, and food are a part of this experience.
…education is a natural process carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words, but by experiences in the environment. -M. Montessori
Music and Movement
The goal of the music curriculum is to give children an opportunity to participate in the joy and expression of making music as a community. They learn to identify basic tones and musical structures. Through singing experiences students develop knowledge of pitch, timing, and melody.
The Continents are studied through exploration of large colorful puzzles. Countries and cultures are studied through collections of objects and photographs and sharing cultural traditions and holiday celebrations around the world. We celebrate the traditions and holidays of people from all the continents throughout the year with art projects, music, studying landmarks of a country, it’s peoples and food preparation. Children come to the realization that different people share universal needs, that we are all an intrinsic part of something bigger than we are!
Children are receptive to language acquisition at an early age, and the program seeks to inspire and excite younger students through active learning, music and body movement. Songs composed for the purposes of language acquisition provide children with vocabulary, proper pronunciation and a comfort level with French that create natural transitions to the spoken language, whether used to narrate or to converse. Memorization in the context of a song is fun, and serves the children well as they progress in the program.
At the Casa level, basic French words and language structures are taught through songs, action games, and activities. Children focus on themes such as food, animals, colors, family, and holiday celebrations.
No one can be free unless he is independent. Little children, from the moment they are weaned, are making their way toward independence.” – M. Montessori
Written language can be acquired more easily by children of four years than by those of six. While children of six usually need at least two years to learn how to write children of four years learn this within a few months. – M. Montessori
When a child first begins to read independently, he is enthralled by it. We encourage children to be motivated by this excitement, to continue to read increasingly complex words, sentences and stories. Our language materials are designed to enhance the child’s experience of reading, through the use of colours, objects and enticing activities.
Sand Paper Letters
Sandpaper Letters are used to practice beginning letter writing and the sounds of the alphabet because reading requires one to know the sound the letter makes, not its name. (The letter names are not difficult to learn once the child is reading.) The teacher traces the letter once or twice and repeats the letters sound. The teacher passes the letter on to the child and gives some examples of the letter sound in a word. The child repeats the process tracing and saying the sound.
When the child first begins to write we do not make corrections. We “teach by teaching, not by correcting.” Instead we teach all the necessary skills through activities, which are completely unrelated to the creative writing effort, as indirect preparation.
A stimulating environment full of spoken language from birth directly prepares children for the world of written language. Writing is a product of children’s desire for self-expression, reading is a natural outgrowth of their interests. With the Montessori materials, children will develop an extensive vocabulary and be able to express themselves with assurance.
Dr. Montessori analyzed the movements, which are connected with writing and developed the Metal Insets for directly preparing the child for handwriting. The metal insets exercises strengthen the three-finger grip and coordinate the necessary wrist movements. The exercises also advances proficiency in lightness of touch and evenness of pressure through drawing activities.
Writing is an expression of one’s thoughts, an extension of one’s inner language. In a Montessori classroom, writing often precedes reading. It is immensely fascinating to a young child to see her own thoughts made visible when composing words with the Movable Alphabet, or dictating a picture story, a poem or a letter to the teacher.
Writing is actually less complicated than Reading, which involves the comprehension of another person’s thoughts. Many children quite naturally assume that they can write – and start to write on their own using a highly creative method called Invented Spelling. – They write as they speak; or better: As they hear. Since English in not completely a phonetic language, misspellings are the result, but these mistakes will be corrected eventually as the child learns more about spelling and grammar rules.
The formal mathematics curriculum begins with activities to teach sequence, recognition and quantity of numbers 1 through 10. Two parallel lessons formats build on this knowledge: operations with numbers (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) and understanding of the decimal system. Eventually used together, these two disciplines form the foundation for working complex math problems. Other lessons introduce math concepts and skills such as: counting-by-multiples, the squares and cubes of numbers 1 through 10, and fractions. All of these activities are available to young children in a Montessori Casa program.
Sandpaper numbers are the sandpaper cutouts of the numbers zero through 9 on individual boards. They teach the numerical symbol of the quantities the child has already learned from the number rods. This is the beginning preparation for number writing. Sandpaper makes the process of tracing out the number both more interesting to the child and more effective in absorbing the mental image of the number.
Montessori is focused on teaching for understanding. In a Casa classroom, three and four-year-olds receive the benefit of sensorial preparation for academic skills by working with the concrete Montessori learning materials. This concrete sensorial experience gradually allows the child to form a mental picture of concepts like how big is a thousand, how many hundreds make up a thousand, and what is really going on when we borrow or carry numbers in mathematical operations.
Teen Board & Beads
With the Teen Boards, the child explores the numbers 11-19. The child puts together ten bars and colored bead bars to create teen quantities, learns the symbols for 11-19 and associates the quantity and symbol.