The Montessori curriculum is well-rounded, encompassing all of the subject areas required by state standards, as well as additional areas of enrichment.
Dr. Montessori believed that if we are to ever be at peace, then we must start with the child. In our curriculum, we encourage the children to follow three rules: take care of yourself, take care of others, and take care of the environment. Through these rules, children develop an understanding of the world around them. To nurture this new knowledge, we encourage them to reach out to the community. Several times throughout the year, the children are involved in activities to show others they care.
In Language, children are working on listening, speaking, reading, writing, and penmanship. Children are immersed in song, books, directions, and games to help them develop in these areas. As the child progresses in reading, he or she is guided into learning letter sounds, learning to read three letter words, and then more complex words. In writing, they begin with the metal insets to develop pencil control. As their fine motor skills develop, the child is introduced to writing cursive and print characters. They progress into reading and spelling the words that they are learning to read. The process of using the eyes to see, the hands to write, and the body to shape letters helps the child internalize the new words that he or she is learning.
In Math, children use their sensorial base of knowledge to expand the ideas of large and small to symbols and quantity. They begin with the number tools for one-to-one correspondence and the sandpaper numbers for symbol. Through the series of works, they develop number sense, meaning that they understand that two and one more is three and three is made of three ones, and that five has a two and a three. As they develop these ideas, the children are guided through the place value system into counting to 100. They then move on to addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division.
In Science, we explore the areas of Zoology and Botany. In Zoology, the child begins with introduction to the vertebrates. We introduce each phylum to the classroom one at a time through classroom pets. The children see the fish, bird, amphibian, mammal, and reptile through direct contact. They learn the parts of the body, the animal’s needs, and how to care for them. We also explore the habitat in which the animal lives. In Botany, we look at the plant, its needs and its functions. We explore each part separately.
Dr. Montessori also believed that gardening was important to the physical development of the child. They develop their large muscles along with an appreciation for nature.
History & Geography Curriculum
History is explored through the use of timelines. First, the child creates a timeline of his or her life and uses this as a comparison to other periods of time throughout history. When we explore Art, Music composers, Geography and Science, we look at timelines. As the child progresses through Montessori levels, more abstract concepts are used.
In Geography, the children are introduced to their own body first. Then they move onto orienting themselves to the world around them. Children explore their own body parts by songs, games, and body mapping work. The terms 'right' and 'left' are presented. After they have a firm grasp on their own body, they begin to explore the terms 'North,' 'South,' 'East,' 'West,' 'land,' 'water,' and 'air,' and the idea of a map. From these basic foundations, the children move into looking at maps and globes. Each continent and country is explored and they begin to recite the names and locations of each of these places. Cultural units are introduced as the child becomes familiar with the countries and their locations.
In Sensorial, children explore the materials through their five senses. They use their ears to listen to the sound cylinders, their noses to smell and compare scents, their tongues to taste the differences between cinnamon and sugar, their eyes to compare colors, and their hands to compare textures. Each of the works in this area is either a grading or a matching work; children are corrected visually and/or by the material.
Practical Life Curriculum
The area of Practical Life prepares the child for life. The child, in this area, learns care of self, control of movement, and social graces. An example of care of self is learning appropriate hand washing, making and cleaning up after their own snack, and taking care of other simple tasks on their own. In the area of control of movement, the children develop more fine motor skills in preparation for reading and writing. Each exercise helps build the muscles in the fingers and wrists. Children work independently to complete the multi-stepped tasks. This creates a sense of pride and accomplishment. The tasks in practical life help to refine the fine motor skills, teach the child to work from left to right as in reading, and help them to develop focus and concentrate in their work.
Art in the Montessori classroom is an integral part of the day. A variety of different mediums are displayed on the shelf throughout the year. The typical lesson consists of information about a medium and a specific artist. The child is instructed on how to use the medium using different techniques. Examples of artists who have used this technique are given, then the child is able to work with the materials to create their own piece of art.
Music is a learning tool in the Montessori classroom. Songs taught contain lyrics which directly relate to subject matters of the classroom. The 7 continents, parts of a flower, and the months of the year are examples of song topics which supplement primary classroom lessons. Music is also a favorite way to introduce foreign languages while simultaneously developing senses of rhythm and rhyme.
Physical Education Curriculum
Health and PE plays a large role in keeping Montessori students active and ready to learn in their classrooms. Students are provided with the opportunity to practice various different skill sets, such as gymnastics or cooperative activities, that allow them to find their own interests in exercising and lead a healthy lifestyle. Studies show that students who are physically active typically perform better in the classroom due to increased brain function. The health portion of the curriculum, which is available to the kindergarten through 6th grade, allows students to better understand their bodies through engaging activities that spark students interest in maintaining optimal health.