Various subject areas offered throughout the school year include the following:
The exercises of practical life are the foundation upon which the Montessori Method is based. Children are drawn to the Practical Life activities because the activities are familiar to them. These are seen as adult “privileges”, something moms and dads get to do. There are four distinct groups of exercises of practical life. These are:
§ Care of the person: This consists of mastering clothes fasteners, instilling personal hygiene habits, provoking artistic creativity, and refining the manipulation of one’s own small muscles.
§ Care of the environment: This consists of dusting, cleaning, washing, taking care of indoor plants, preparing food, pouring wet and dry materials, and other household tasks.
§ Elementary movements: This consists of holding, carrying, putting down, picking up, etc., of all objects in daily environments. It also includes activities such as walking, sitting down, getting up, and so on.
§ Grace and courtesy: This involves greeting, offering, accepting, apologizing, etc.
Practical Life activities stress control of movement as well as hand and eye coordination in conjunction with the development of attention span and concentration. They provide the children with opportunities for repetition leading to the achievement of success. The repetition of this purposeful work helps the children establish control—both mentally and physically—by actively coordinating their muscles through an intelligently developed thought process.
Theses exercises provide immediate and direct feedback to the children. The processes involved in these activities lead the children to develop skills in caring for themselves and their surroundings. They learn to think through an activity and order their movements, which all eventually develop an understanding of a complete cycle of an activity. Soon the children begin to complete an exercise by themselves, experience success in their work, enjoy working for themselves, and acquire a love for learning,
Sensorial materials help the children refine and explore each of their senses. Works are grouped together according to the physical quality, for example, aroma, taste, weight, color, temperament, or sound. Other challenges include objects that vary in degree, such as height, length, or width. The purpose is to enable a child to distinguish and classify among things by isolating one’s senses so that the child gets an intense experience of that sense.
Sensorial materials prepare the children in three ways, including biological, intellectual, and social ways. The biological objective is to assist the natural development of the children. Between the ages of 3-6, the children experience rapid physical growth. Sensorial materials are designed in a way to aid possible discover and correct defects at an early age. The intellectual aim is to assist the cognitive formation in the children. The social objective consists of preparing children for their all around awareness of the world.
Language is experienced in every area of the class from Practical Life to Music to Art. Many language concepts and skills such as part-to-whole, front-to-back, patterns, or fine motor skills, are learned through the use of activities in other areas of the room. They are building blocks for reading and writing.
As the children’s interest and skills develop, they move through a carefully graded series of exercises, learning to use a pencil, then form letters correctly, and finally write words.
To aid the children in writing, it helps to encourage them to learn to use their hands in many ways such as buttoning, zipping, wringing, stirring, etc., in real life situations like dressing, washing, cooking, or helping in cleaning. The biggest motivator to help a child read is to read to him/her everyday. It helps to read a variety of books: fiction, poetry, folktales, science, and so on. This enriches their vocabulary and opens their world to new uses of language.
Science and Geography
Science, whether it is geography, physics, or biology, and even history, leads us to realize that there is an order of the universe. Everything we know is, somehow, interdependent.
First of all, we must name everything. A child can first satisfy her natural curiosity by learning what things are called. This includes everything from parts of the child’s own body to things inside or outside the classroom to objects on the earth or in the sky.
Once the child identifies what is around her, she can begin to categorize. For example, what is living, what is non-living; what is an animal, what is a plant; what is land, what is water; what is a solid, what is a liquid, what is a gas; what has already happened, and what has not happened yet?
The child is now free to wonder deeper and deeper into each subject. She can now ask questions like what kind of an animal is this. Is this metal or non-metal? What kind of a land formation is this? She is also free to wonder “how” or “why”.
Science and history are not lofty studies that can only be understood by adults. One whose senses have been trained to notice begins these concepts very early on. Once this foundation is laid, the possibilities of future learning are endless!
Montessori mathematics is broken into five categories:
§ Understanding of the numerals
§ Understanding of the decimal system
§ Linear counting
§ Four operations
§ Process of abstraction
This breakdown leads the children from the most basic concept to the most difficult concepts. Beginning with numeration, the children become familiar with numbers from simple recognition to forming quantities. Once they understand numerals, they are ready to move on to the decimal system: understanding ones, tens, hundreds, and thousands. The children then move onto linear counting. Here they learn to form numbers and explore all aspects of them. In the four operations, the children learn to remember all the different combinations of adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing. Once the children have mastered these concepts, they are ready to work mathematics in their head and apply the knowledge to problems. Mathematics is very alive and active in the Montessori classroom.
The children will learn about many languages with songs, games, and work in the cultural area. (We also study sign language and body language.)
Daily individual art activities for all levels are important for the development of intellectual, social, and spiritual stimulus and growth. There are many opportunities for group activities on a regular basis.
Group time is a wonderful time for songs, finger-plays, and music and movement games. There are also many items in the environment to promote musical appreciation. Yoga is introduced to the children with music and games; this is a fun and relaxing activity that develops large motor skills.
The children learn about nature and the responsibility of caring for living plants and animals. The children care for the schools' plants and also plant seeds and watch the plants grow.