Young children need not only love, emotional nurturing, and a healthy physical environment, but they also need an environment which promotes their very real need to learn. The Montessori teaching method provides a basis for individualized learning activities, appropriate for even the earliest stages of a child's development.
The purpose of the program at Montessori Beginnings is to encourage, assist, respect and protect the development of each child. The program helps develop the critical thinkers of tomorrow. The materials and environment Maria Montessori designed and implemented over one hundred years ago support every aspect of the current STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum. Children in the program will flourish in prepared environments which respect, support, and respond to their basic needs for independence, exploration, and the building of trust and self-esteem; thereby creating resiliency.
During the early years of life, Dr. Maria Montessori felt that "the first thing the child's education demands is the provision of an environment in which he or she can develop the powers given by nature." Quite literally, the school environment is the curriculum. Dr. Maria Montessori emphasized the need for a rich environment and noted the speed at which children can develop: "if our own adult ability were to be compared with the child's, we should need sixty years of hard work to do what he or she does in three." While providing a structured and thus a familiar environment, the needs of individual children are met. These different areas of interest introduce them to a whole reality. Children move from the concrete to the abstract in a stimulating, enriching, supportive, caring and fun environment.
Activities in this area provide an opportunity to practice everyday life skills such as dish washing, polishing, and care of the environment including the care of plants and animals. Food preparation may consist of cutting fruit for snacks or measuring and following the sequence of a recipe. Basic exercises like pouring and spooning provide an opportunity to develop eye-hand coordination as well as control of balance.
Basics of technology are implemented each day by the use of scissors, crayons, pencils, magnifying glasses and so on. Lessons and modeling of grace and courtesy are an integral part of the daily routine.Children practice table manners and social conversation over snacks. Whether tying, buttoning or by actually wiping up spills or cleaning an easel, the child expands his/her independence and self-esteem.The tasks of hand and body produce a strong sense of self for the child.
Activities in this area provide the means for the young child to explore the world through their senses. The world as a whole is compromised of patterns, symmetry and order. The child may learn to discriminate and match sounds, smells, textures, or colors.
The pre-primary (2.9 to 6 years) child may grade a series of ten cubes into a pink tower or discover that two triangles combine to form a square. Such exercises introduce the child to the greater order of the world and provide a necessary base for further study in math and science.
The young child sees numbers all around him/her and is introduced to rote counting through songs and finger plays during group line activities. Participating in such activities as setting a table for lunch or placing one snack by each chair introduces the child to the relationship of number and quantity.
The Pre-primary child is introduced to beginning math concept, basic geometry and concrete math concepts using a variety of materials including the Number Rods and Golden Beads. Daily activities present opportunities for simple problem solving.
The very young child is developing language and vocabulary skills at a rate faster than any other time of his/her life. Names are given for all the objects in the classroom as well as vocabulary for the characteristics they are learning through their senses. Verbal mapping is used even with our youngest students. Story reading and group songs develop listening skills and self-confidence with verbal expressions.
The Pre-primary child is offered the opportunity to use his/her ever-expanding vocabulary and language in small group discussions, large group sharing, and interaction with peers. Children follow the sequence of reading by learning individual sounds associated with the alphabet, learning each sound's relationship to others in words, and finally reading short labels. Isolating the difficulty between phonetic spelling and the ability to print allows a young child to construct sentences and even stories with the use of the moveable alphabet.
Geography and Social Studies
The goal is to introduce the child to the idea that they are uniquely connected to every other human being--both by differences and similarities; they live in a special time that is but a part of the whole history of mankind. The idea that all life and all things are interconnected and part of a cosmic plan is brought to the child through cosmic education. From the beginning, children are introduced to the riches of culture through pictures, artwork, and food. The world is brought to them through such objects as an African drum, chopsticks, or a Mexican hat or maraca. Later, they will analyze continents and their own country through puzzle maps, land forms dances, songs, and teacher inspired research.
Classroom environments are natural and home-like. The use of both professional and children's art hang at their eye level and stimulates interest. Various forms of painting, drawing, and collage materials are available for free expression that allow the process to be highlighted over product. Children are introduced to various artists, authors and composers throughout the year. Holiday projects or activities such as weaving, collage work, finger knitting, or needlework may be introduced.
The goal of the school is to develop the physical as well as the emotional and academic child. With the addition of our Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom and play space we give children many opportunities to explore, play and grow! Gross motor movement for children is critical to their development. Purposeful activities such as walking up and down stairs, walking on a balance beam or simply climbing a small hill encourages coordination, grace, balance and self-confidence. Coordination and balance is further refined through line activities such as walking heel-to-toe or slowly carrying objects.
Large motor activities such as skipping, climbing, ball catching, and throwing is practiced indoors and outdoors in the play space. Simple group games with rules are also introduced.