Montessori Method & Curriculum

Maria Montessori stressed that the school is really the Children’s House.  It is designed for them, and adults are actually visitors – even the teachers.

We offer a traditional, comprehensive Montessori curriculum including language, mathematics, sensorial, practical life, geography, natural science, and creative subjects (arts & crafts, music, drama). There are significant differences between this curriculum and that of traditional, teacher-focused schools. The foundation of the curriculum is the Prepared Environment. There are six aspects to this prepared classroom environment: Freedom; Structure and Order; Beauty; Nature and Reality; Social Environment; and Intellectual Environment.

For instance, Freedom means the freedom to:

  • Choose activities according to the child’s sense of their needs
  • Explore with the learning materials
  • Communicate
  • Realize their individual potential

The Prepared Environment supports a class made up of multiple age groups. For Palencia Montessori, that is our Toddler Class with children from 18 months to 3 years, and our PrePrimary Montessori Class of 3 – 6 year old students.

The Prepared Environment presents five specific topic areas:

  • Practical Life enhances the development of task organization and cognitive order through care of self, care of the environment, exercises of grace and courtesy, and coordination of physical environment
  • Sensorial enables the child to order, classify, and describe sensory impressions in relation to length, width, temperature, mass, color, pitch, etc
  • Mathematics makes use of manipulative materials to enable the child to internalize concepts of number, symbol, sequence, operations, and memorization of basic facts
  • Language Arts includes oral language development, written expression, reading, the study of grammar, creative dramatics, and children’s literature
  • Cultural Activities expose the child to basics in geography, history, and life sciences. Music, art, and movement education are part of the integrated cultural curriculum

The use of natural materials in the Prepared Environment teaches the child to learn through their senses and to respect Nature. The Montessori materials all enable self-correction, so that the child may learn through trial and error. This also encourages critical thinking and independence; we teach the child how to do learn on their own. The Prepared Environment also focuses on a love of silence and self-discipline.

PrePrimary Curriculum, 3-6 Years

As noted earlier, when your children come to Montessori, they don’t enter an ordinary school building, but rather a Children’s House. It features vertical age grouping, meaning children, as young as three and as old as six, learn side-by-side.  Younger children observe higher lessons and get excited about the next level.  Older students self-confidently guide younger peers.  And, by grouping ages this way, teachers stay with children longer enabling them to guide a child’s continuous progress in the most productive and nurturing manner.   Hands-on activities keep children in touch with learning as they build concentration and an increasing sense of order during this period of rapid social and emotional development.  The Montessori principles and curriculum are designed to foster characteristics that play a critical role in intellectual growth such as self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-control.  When young children exhibit these qualities, they feel good about themselves and interact appropriately with their environment and peers, with little need for disciplinary tactics. There is purpose to everything we do in a Montessori Children’s House.  The lead teacher presents lessons according to a sequential plan and observes the interest and ability of each child.  Children learn at their own pace, self-selecting the lessons that best match their current abilities and desires.  The role of the teacher is to guide each child along his or her own natural path of learning and achievement. Each Children’s House of multisensory learning is arranged into four main subject areas: Practical Life, Sensorial, Education for the Development of Logical/Mathematical Mind, and Education for Language Development.

Practical Life

Provides authentic tasks that allow children to gain the skills needed to become lifelong learners and capable thinkers with independence and cooperative abilities. In the classroom the child has the opportunity to participate in caring for the environment and caring for self.

Sensorial

The purpose of Sensorial work is for the child to acquire clear, understandable information and to be able to then make classifications in his environment. Montessori believed that sensorial experiences begin at birth. Through his senses, the child studies his/her environment. Through this study, the child then begins to understand his environment.

Language

The child is taught language through a specific progression of lessons where he first becomes aware of the different sounds in a word. The child then learns the language phonetically until the point where he is taught the different “rules” in a given language and the exceptions to those rules he will need to know in order to spell and read fluently.

Math

The child first learns to count from 1-10 through the understanding of the concept that those numbers represent a specific amount.  Through each material, the child will learn addition, subtraction, multiplication and division and truly understand what each one means in their deeper sense. Through this method of teaching, Montessori offers the child a strong and solid foundation in the understanding of mathematics.

There are also additional areas of the curriculum, including geography, science, and art.  All subject matter is presented with the same rigor, self-correcting-type materials, and self-paced approach.

Toddler Curriculum, 18 Months to 3 Years

“The first six years of the child are the foundation of all the characteristics, attitudes, and abilities of his adulthood constructed in such a manner that it lasts throughout his whole life.” – Dr. Maria Montessori

Montessori refers to the 18 month to 3 year age group as a “Young Child Community”.  Activities are presented primarily by the teacher, with less emphasis on child selection than we find in the PrePrimary program.  Even so, Toddler materials are designed to engage the child in practical skills as well as development of the senses, math knowledge, language, music, and art.  Particular emphasis for Toddlers is placed on speech and language development, as well as both fine and gross motor skills.  These are the essential tools for a young child to be able to explore their world and their self. Maria Montessori understood that children learn through play.  A child’s natural path to knowledge follows the whims of curiosity and wonder.  At Palencia Montessori Academy, our Toddler Program sets children ages 18 months to three years on a lifelong path of exploration, in a world created especially for the heart and mind of a young child. The Prepared Environment must focus on the needs of Toddlers.  Whether it is the size of the chairs and tables or the lighting or the arrangement of Montessori materials on the shelves, everything is focused on the needs and development of the Toddler.  The Montessori Method must be oriented to the rapid changes in attention span, interests, and capabilities of children at the Toddler age.   The teacher must be able to recognize when the Toddler is developmentally ready for a particular activity, and adjust the Prepared Environment accordingly. Toddlers are constantly in motion – and they are happy that way!  They also become quite focused on their desire to “do it myself”.  Proper guidance develops that attitude on self-reliance and seeks to avoid the frustration that initial failures can cause.   The teacher provides individual attention to help turn those frustrations into positive experiences and a growing sense of self-confidence. Your child will learn at their natural pace.  The Montessori Method emphasizes that learning really is its own reward.  There is no requirement for artificial rewards (or punishments) to motivate the child to learn.  As your child develops their sense of physical coordination, their concentration and independence, and a sense of order in their environment, they will progress naturally and comfortably to the PrePrimary program.


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Palencia Montessori Academy

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