How many times have we heard a young child exclaim, “Let me do it!” The practical life activities are geared to helping the child do just that. The child learns how to take care of himself as a person – for example –learning how to button, zip a coat, or tie shoelaces. He learns how to take care of the environment, dusting, sweeping and caring for plants. He also learns grace and courtesy – how to respect himself and others.
It is in working with the practical life materials that the child learns to concentrate, to work independently and to accomplish a task from beginning to end (such as putting the material back on the shelf neatly for the next person). Not only is he acquiring fine motor skills, the ability to concentrate and work independently, but because the materials are organized from left to right he is learning order and organization and indirectly is already being prepared for reading.
The world is made known to the child through his senses. The child is constantly responding to and actively seeking out stimuli from the environment, and it is through interacting with the environment that cognitive development takes place.
Of the sensorial materials, Maria Montessori says, “The aim is an inner one, namely, that the child train himself to observe, that he be led to make comparisons between objects, to form judgments, to reason and to decide, and it is in the indefinite repetition of this exercise of attention and of intelligence that a real development ensues”.
Maria Montessori’s brilliance is so evident with the materials. She developed a means for the child to acquire a clear visual and tactile representation of the mathematical concepts being presented.
One of the most impressive aspects of early childhood is the acquisition of language. Children love words and they are not afraid of difficult words. While working with many of the materials, the child acquires a rich vocabulary such as rough, smooth, loud, soft, thick, thin, thorax, abdomen, cylinder, cube, stamen, pistil and so on.
We teach phonics. Children have the opportunity to learn how to spell, how to read, and how to write. It is not unusual to find young readers in a Montessori primary class.
Map making is a highlight. The children learn about continents and oceans, countries and the flags which represent them. They learn about many cultures of the various continents and they learn about land and water forms.
Our program introduces the child to what is living and non-living leading to a study of botany, and zoology – vertebrates and invertebrates.
We offer Spanish incorporating music and the Total Physical Response Method which keep the child actively engaged.
Arts and Crafts
Arts and crafts are incorporated in all the unit studies. Painting at an easel is a free choice activity. The children will be introduced to many notable artists and their compositions/creations
Each child will have an individual garden plot to plant and care for when the weather permits.
We will listen to many of the great composers’ compositions throughout the year. We will also be incorporating Musikgarten’s program Cycle of Seasons. As their brochure states “Celebrate your child’s love of nature and growing independence through activities which focus on the seasons of the year. Classes are designed to build attention and self-expression and include singing, chanting moving, focused listening, musical games, exploring musical instruments, creative movement and storytelling.”
Who a child is – his character – is more important than what he is able to do. We will highlight various character qualities throughout the year giving the child the opportunity to put these into practice not only at school but also at home.
The children will have the opportunity to work independently with the materials to discover the geography of where Jesus was born and lived. They will learn about the Liturgical Year and the colors that represent different parts of the year. They will be able to work independently with materials depicting the life of Christ such as the birth of Jesus and the Adoration of the Shepherds as well as many of the parables, including the Parable of the Good Shepherd. They will have the opportunity to learn Bible verses, make simple prayer cards, and illustrate the stories they have heard or are working with.
As with other areas of the Montessori classroom, once presented the activity is placed on the shelf for the child to choose freely after completing the steps leading up to that particular activity.