Kindergarten (Junior and Senior)
Kindergarten, the culminating year of the Primary cycle, provides an extraordinary opportunity for 3.5 and 5.5 year olds to develop their leadership skills. Kindergarteners act as positive peer models for their younger classmates, assuming positions of responsibility that further strengthen their own capabilities and self-esteem. Everything that children have learned in previous years comes together in Kindergarten, giving children a readiness to meet new challenges.
Kindergarten children visit the school more often for participating in Physical Education, or attending presentations of Elementary students’ work. Some other special activities include Kindergarten field trips and their own springtime musical performance.
There is dynamic interaction between the various curriculum areas of the Montessori classroom. While each area emphasizes specific skills, children’s developing skills and knowledge are relevant in exploring other areas of the curriculum as well. This connection between different areas of curriculum enhances children’s natural interest in and enthusiasm for learning new things.
Practical Life activities are central to the Montessori classroom and prepare the child for all other areas. The emphasis is on practicing skills – the process is more important than the product. Practical Life exercises give children the opportunity to refine their fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, hand strength, balance, concentration and ability to do things for themselves. Through the repetition of Practical Life activities, children develop practical skills that will serve them all their lives. Some of the Primary Practical Life exercises include Pouring, Lacing, Scooping, Flower Arranging, Food Preparation and Serving, and Table Washing.
Language pervades the Montessori classroom and crosses all curriculum areas. The young child is introduced to the names of things, and sounds and letters, while the older child may be beginning to read. Language materials are often tactile, taking advantage of the 3.5 and 5.5 year old’s sensitivity to learning through touch. Writing often comes early to the Montessori child through the use of concrete materials, like the pre-cut letters of the Moveable Alphabet, that allow her to express her knowledge without needing precise control of a pencil. Language Materials include Sandpaper Letters, Language Objects for initial sounds practice, word and picture Matching Cards, a Farm activity to develop vocabulary and Early Reader books.
Sensorial materials are designed to help children learn about qualities like color, size, shape, length, texture, and sound. 3-6 year olds are increasingly able to make finer and finer discriminations of the many stimuli all around them. Sensorial activities assist children in refining this skill and becoming good observers of the world. Sensorial materials in the Primary classroom include Knobbed Cylinders for practice with dimension, Color Tablets, Rough and Smooth Boards, Geometric Solids, the Pink Tower, and the Binomial Cube.
Concrete materials are used to introduce mathematical concepts in the Montessori classroom. Children build their abstract mathematical reasoning skills on these early concrete experiences. They learn how a numeral represents an amount. They manipulate objects to see concretely operations like addition and subtraction. These exercises cater to children’s developing sense of order, sequence, one-to-one correspondence and directionality. Primary Math activities include Sandpaper Numerals, the Spindle Box for counting, Numerals and Counters, the Hundred Board, Bead Chains, and Golden Beads to introduce the decimal system.
Geography is an important part of the Montessori curriculum. The curriculum begins with the two hemispheres of Earth and becomes more and more detailed as children learn about continents, and then countries. The very young child will use the wooden puzzle maps as puzzles, but the older child can use the pieces as a guide as he makes his own maps, labeled with his own handwriting when he is ready.
Science and Nature
Children are introduced to many topics and learn to make predictions in their Science and Nature activities. The land and water work, introducing the concepts of Lake and Island, is closely connected to the Geography curriculum. Children learn about volcanoes, the layers of the Earth and the solar system. They go on nature walks and then research the leaves, seed or flowers they have found. They learn to classify things, predict the results of experiments and test their predictions. The Science and Nature curriculum is designed not only to help children discover facts, but to honor the sense of wonder they have about the world. Activities include Sink or Float, Living or Non-Living, Magnetic or Non-Magnetic, Land and Water Forms, the Structure of the Earth and Botany.
The Primary classroom includes an ever changing selection of art and creative activities for children. Fine motor practice, color work, and imagination all come into play in the Art area. Lessons on great artists, matching activities with fine art prints, collage and glue, cutting with scissors, hole punching, markers, crayons, paint and our own playdough are all part of the Art curriculum.
Peacemaking and conflict resolution are a daily part of the Montessori curriculum. The Peace Table is full of lovely, interesting and calming objects from around the world, like music boxes, smooth stones, or tiny flowers, for children to touch and hold. There may be a mirror, so children can see how they look when they experience different emotions, and books with peaceful messages. At the Peace Table teachers help children to be good listeners and forge mutually agreeable solutions to conflicts. It is also a place where children can choose to go to enjoy a peaceful moment alone.
Grace and Courtesy
In the Montessori classroom, children and adults take care to be gracious toward and courteous of one another. This area of the curriculum encourages respect for oneself, for other members of the community, for the living things in the classroom, and for the environment. Carrying things carefully, returning them to their place so others may use them, moving gracefully and carefully, using polite and respectful language, showing consideration to others, good table manners, properly introducing oneself, and interrupting politely are all part of the lessons in Grace and Courtesy.