Children in the early childhood program are independent and social beings, and the early childhood environments are prepared with that in mind. Each environment is divided in to sections featuring different subjects within the curriculum. Within each section the work is arranged with the simplest on the upper left, moving to the most difficult on the lower right. The child is able to do any work on which he’s had a lesson, and can request a lesson on a work that she finds intriguing.
A typical early childhood day begins with the transition from home to school–changing from outdoor to indoor shoes, removing and storing outdoor clothes and washing hands, before heading to circle. In circle the children count their classmates, observe the weather, update the calendar, sing, listen to stories and have lessons. On extra-special days, they’ll celebrate classmate’s birthdays.
At the end of circle the children are dismissed to work. This may be work left out from the last work time, a lesson with a teacher, or a new choice. Work time lasts nearly two hours, allowing each child to complete several work cycles and work in several areas of the environment.
After a full morning of work the children do their jobs, participate in a short circle and prepare to go outdoors. We go outdoors nearly every day, children dress in rain boots and coats with hoods in inclement weather. The children from all four early childhood classrooms play on both playgrounds, providing an opportunity to make and maintain friendships beyond their classroom.
Some children go home at noon, while others stay for lunch and recess, or the remainder of the school day. Lunch takes place in each early childhood classroom, with an emphasis on grace and courtesy, using appropriate table manners and carrying on a polite conversation.
Afternoon class is primarily Montessori work time, augmented with specialists nearly every day. Work time is nearly two hours, then more outdoor time and dismissal. Those children who nap do so on a mat in a quiet area of their classroom. Throughout the day the structure and expectations remain the same, providing a predictable and safe environment.
Early Childhood Environments
The Cottage environment is a full-day classroom, prepared by Ms. Manuela, assisted by Ms. Maria and Ms. Marika.
The Loft environment is a full-day classroom, prepared by Ms. Gail and Ms. Aurelie, assisted by Ms. Kim, Ms. Nicole and Ms. Mamu. After-school care takes place in Loft.
The Nest environment is a full-day classroom, prepared by Ms. Shweta, assisted by Ms. Sandie and Ms. Leena. Nest is also home to before school care and after school care.
The Sprouts environment is a half-day classroom, prepared by Ms. Eufrocina, assisted by Ms. Mariam.
Early Childhood Curriculum
Our beautiful, spacious and carefully thought-through design and layout of each classroom invite natural exploration. Each classroom is divided into several logical areas by low open shelves on which the children discover developmentally appropriate learning activities. Each classroom has the following areas: practical life, sensorial, language, mathematics, art, geography and science.
The practical life activities are the foundation of the child’s development of concentration, motor coordination and self-esteem. Through these works the child learns the work cycle, choose, do, replace and choose again. Once this skill is mastered the child is free to take on anything in the classroom. Practical life is truly the basis for becoming.
The sensorial materials isolate each unique sense. The child is able to define and categorize objects by color, sound, texture, smell, weight and size, which prepares for the abstract concepts of language, math and science.
Language and Literacy
Montessori presents reading through writing. First the child learns to draw shapes, from shapes the child begins to write letters, the letters have sounds and then the sounds blend to become words. The child’s explosion into writing naturally precedes the explosion into reading by several months.
Concrete materials build upon each other to give the child a breadth and depth of mathematical concept including quantity, numerals, the decimal system, and four operations.
Real works of art, hung at a child’s eye level, frequently changed, coupled with a variety of creative mediums with which to explore form the foundation of the Montessori art program. Art projects related to cultural studies are found on the shelves as well.
Materials provide the child the opportunity to classify the earth into continents, countries, states and land formations, both presently and historically. The continents are studied on a three-year rotation, allowing for in-depth study of two continents and several countries each year. They also learn what the earth consists of and what to do to keep it environmentally healthy.
Children learn about both plants and animals as they relate to the biomes in geography and as they occur in real life.
In addition to the traditional study of the five classes of vertebrates the children do further work with specific animals in a biome. When we study deserts of Africa they learn about camels, and when we study the grasslands of Europe they learn about sheep. Once they’re familiar with the parts of each animal they’re about to compare and contrast, and develop an understanding of similarities and differences. Their relationship to humans is also considered.
The study of plants begins with leaves and lunch, then moves in to the biomes. The approach once again is about the parts–leaves, plants, flowers, and the ways that plants are used by humans.
The children explore basic concepts of physical science such as magnetic/nonmagnetic, sink/float, larger/smaller and color mixing.