Primary Curriculum & the Montessori Classroom
In the Montessori classrooms, children are grouped according to different planes of development as identified by Dr. Maria Montessori (ages 3-6, 6-9, and 9-12). This approach allows children to work at different paces in different areas. A child can move as far ahead as s/he is ready to in one discipline, but can also spend as much time as needed to master a concept s/he finds challenging.
At Island Montessori School, our 3-6 year-old groups are a mix of students from our private Preschool with students from our Charter School Kindergarten (both are non-profits). Please note that enrollment in our private Preschool does not guarantee enrollment in our Charter Kindergarten (see Charter Admission FAQs).
The Primary Classroom Curriculum (3 years through Kindergarten)
Island Montessori School guides the growth and development of the whole child. Montessori classrooms are designed to be uncluttered, self-contained environments that encourage investigation and creativity. The prepared Montessori environment, filled with beautiful hands-on learning materials, encourages students to grow in knowledge from the concrete to the abstract.
Island Montessori School is proud to provide your child(ren) an opportunity for outstanding Montessori education in a safe, nurturing environment. Children at Island Montessori will interact within the prepared classroom environment working at their own developmental learning pace, while adhering to principles of grace, courtesy, and respect for each other and learning materials. Both individual and group learning experiences are emphasized within the classroom using Montessori materials. Content learning includes social interaction, practical life, sensorial, language, math, Spanish, botany, zoology, history, geography, music and art. These rich layered strands of curriculum build progressively as a student advances through the Montessori educational levels.
Maria Montessori said, "Play is a child's work." This Montessori principle believes that children learn by doing "purposeful work” which promotes focus on Respect for Self, Respect for Each Other, and Respect for the Classroom Environment. Therefore, classrooms become small communities. Each classroom has Montessori materials designed to fit individual children's needs to create meaningful learning experiences that maximize each child's ability.
Teachers follow a daily routine of active learning so that students can cover important curriculum vital to overall child development. The prepared environment invites interaction between children, materials and the guiding teacher.
Children are allowed to experience the excitement of learning through freedom of choice with oversight by a trained teacher. Likewise, each child is helped to perfect his or her natural tools for learning, so that the child’s abilities will be maximized for future learning situations.
Practical Life Exercises
For young children, there is something special about the tasks that an adult considers ordinary, such as washing dishes, paring vegetables, polishing shoes, etc. These activities are exciting to children because they allow them to imitate adults. Imitation is one of the strongest urges during the children’s early years and it is through this urge to imitate that children begin their first focus work.
The practical life area is designed to allow training in daily living skills, not only with attention to small hand muscles, coordination and lengthening concentrated work time, but also for promoting patience, orderliness and the love of focus work. This work gives the child instant success and prepares the child internally for the academic tasks that follow.
The work in this area focuses on expanding the child's awareness of learning using the five senses. The Sensorial Materials in the Montessori classroom help children distinguish, categorize, and relate new information to what they already know. Dr. Montessori believed that this process is the beginning of conscious knowledge. It is brought about by the intelligence working in a concentrated way with the impressions given by the senses. The Sensorial exercises, by their very nature, are preparation for all academic learning.
Dr. Montessori demonstrated that if children have access to mathematical equipment in their early years, they can easily and joyfully assimilate many facts and skills of arithmetic. On the other hand, these same facts and skills may require long hours of drudgery and drill if they are introduced to them at a later age in an abstract form.
Dr. Montessori designed concrete mathematical materials after she observed that combining this equipment, separating it, sharing it, counting it, and comparing it, children can demonstrate the basic operations of mathematics. Operations can be performed with a variety of materials. This variety supports the children’s interest and provides opportunity for necessary repetition.
With these materials children gain a concrete understanding of mathematical concepts while they commit facts and tables to memory. This approach prepares and leads the children into the future abstract study of mathematics.
Children experience sensorial exploration of plane and solid figures. They begin to recognize the names and basic shapes of plane and solid geometry and their relationships through manipulating by size, shape, and dimension. More advanced plane geometry includes the study of triangles, polygons, rectangles, and irregular forms.
Before they enter the early childhood classroom, children have an understanding of language and its usage. Work in the Practical Life and Sensorial areas of the classroom refine the children’s auditory, oral, visual, and sensory motor skills, which are integral to the reading and writing process. In order to simplify the children’s first experience with
Once children begin to have success with decoding and encoding phonetic words, they are introduced to books and writing materials that further develop their skills and support an insatiable interest in reading and writing.
Individual presentation of language materials allows the teacher to take advantage of the children's greatest periods of interest, individual readiness, and natural sensitivity for language development.
The early childhood classroom offers children many opportunities to expand their knowledge of the world during the years when they are motivated by spontaneous interest. The large, colorful wooden puzzle maps introduce the children to the maps of continents, countries, and states.
At first, the children use the maps simply as a visual-motor exercise, and then later they learn the names of the pieces and places. As the children become more familiar with maps they are introduced to the concepts of land and water formations and weather and climate. A variety of hands-on activities help to reinforce these concepts.
Montessori offers the children a concrete presentation of history by letting them work with time lines. Time lines are very long strips of paper that can be unrolled and stretched along the floor of the classroom. The line is marked off in segments that represent constructive periods of history.
As an introduction to the idea of history, the children begin by making a time line of their own lives. A variety of materials and lessons are available for the children in the history area. Often these activities reflect the interest of the children and the historical events relative to the parts of the world they are studying.
Spanish activities are a regular part of the classroom environment. Children practice their Spanish during class time through a number of hands-on activities that enrich their receptive and expressive Spanish vocabulary.
Cooking and Nutrition
Proper nutrition information can create and reinforce lifelong eating habits that contribute to overall well-being and health. Cooking projects emphasize early exposure to a variety of healthy snacks and meals, and foods of various cultures.
Science and Nature
Curiosity is stimulated through natural specimens, discovery projects, and experiments. Children participate in activities that foster their sense of wonder and encourage them to question, experience, experiment, and draw their own conclusions. Beautiful sets of cards and puzzles introduce the plant, animal, and fungi kingdoms. Science and nature activities foster a love and appreciation for all living things.
A multicultural perspective is brought to the classroom on a daily basis through respect for individuality and diversity. Children gain an awareness of the world by exploring countries through customs, food, music, climate, language, stories, and indigenous plants and animals. Children are allowed to explore world customs and religions from an objective, educational (non-practicing) perspective. This helps raise their awareness of people of the world and helps them gain understanding, tolerance, and compassion.
Art projects are natural extensions of the early childhood classroom work. Children are also offered open-ended art activities that foster and encourage the great joy that can be found in creating something of their own. The children have the freedom to explore their imaginations in a variety of media used for expression.
The importance of the process is emphasized during this stage of development. Each preschool environment has an art area with different papers, drawing materials, and mediums including chalk, crayon, marker, watercolors, collage and clay. All of these projects reinforce and expand academic and artistic skills. Creativity is not curtailed by an imposed curriculum but rather complements the children’s sensory explorations with each medium.
Music and Drama
The children actively participate in singing and the use of un-pitched percussion instruments to foster an understanding of pitch, dynamics, and further elements of music study. The children are introduced to elements of drama using poetry and nursery rhymes, games, and role plays.
Children engage in two types of physical activities during the year: gross motor activities and yoga. A non-competitive approach is taken in all of the physical education activities.
Children go outside to play and work daily as weather permits. We believe firmly that a child should be able to move as they feel the need.
Also see the Curriculum for other Montessori Levels (Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary & Middle School) as your child grows.