To complement the innate curiosity, creativity and intelligence of children, the Montessori curriculum is highly enriched and challenging to cultivate human potential, nurture spontaneous curiosity, and inspire a sense of wonder.
Early Childhood Curriculum
Practical life exercises foster independence, self-control, self-confidence, and self-esteem. These exercises provide inviting opportunities for movement that assist in the control and refinement of both gross and fine motor skills. They also teach sequencing and logic.
Practical Life exercises foster concentration since the cooperation of the body, hands, eyes and mind are required. The child learns to care for self, for others, and for the environment.
In the Early Childhood classroom, there are broad ranges of activities that fall into the Practical Life curriculum. These activities include exercises as simple of putting one's work away, to sweeping or washing a table, to getting oneself ready for recess, and pour one's own drink for snack.
Sensorial materials enable the child to form clear concepts of dimensions. For example, size discrimination by using cylinder blocks and shape by using the geometric solids. They enable the child through sight, touch, smell and sound the ability to clarify, classify, and comprehend the world around him. Sensorial development is critical in establishing a firm foundation of concrete reference to later build upon more abstract concepts.
In a Montessori classroom, the child receives preparation for language all around him. Through Practical Life activities the child prepares by working with tools that refine gross and fine motor skills. These activities develop strength and coordination of hand so that the child has the control and dexterity to hold and manipulate a writing instrument. Sensorial work gives the child an opportunity to train the eye to discriminate similarities and differences thus preparing for phonemic awareness, and visual discrimination of shapes and forms prepares him for reading.
Development of oral Language begins by giving the young child the opportunity to work with objects of everyday life. Discussions, storytelling and poetry are used to guide comprehension.
Early preparation of the Mathematical Mind is achieved through manipulating concrete materials. Exercises include sequencing, number recognition, number quantity and progress through the function and facts of the math operations. The Sensorial and Practical Life exercises have prepared the child with sense of order co-ordination, concentration and focus.
Children assemble the world puzzle map of oceans and continents. They learn to identify land and water forms through combining water with land formations. The biome puzzle maps define elements of culture and animals of the world.
The children are made aware of time as it is lived throughout the year with changing seasons, their lifetime line and cultural celebrations.
Children explore simple concepts like absorption, sink/float, states of matter, and balance through hands on activities and experiments.
Children care for plants and animals in their environment. Zoology and Botany puzzles, matching card work and examples of the plants and animals give the children the opportunity to learn the parts.
The language arts curriculum enhances the child's skills in reading, writing, listening, comprehension, grammar, and vocabulary. This core area of learning is bridged to other areas of the curriculum. Reading and writing is used for acquiring knowledge in biology, geography, history, and science. Writing plays and studying folklore from different cultures inspires the child's writing process and develops reading strategies.
Math Montessori materials are used to provide the child with understanding of math concepts from concrete to abstract reasoning. Through continual practice, the child masters math facts and operation processes. Linking the history of math of how numbers evolved gives the child a connection to the need and use of numbers.
The child explores the study of lines and its parts. The child uses Montessori materials to form angles and polygons; learning their names, concepts of similarity, congruency, equivalency, and measurement. Art is used to compare and contrast shapes, learn characteristics, and define fractions.
Cosmic education is the centerpiece of the elementary program. Beginning with the creation of the universe through the appearance of humans, discoveries are made in the developments of time, calendar, writing, math, and fundamental needs of humans.
In a three year cycle, the child studies each continent in depth. The biomes (grasslands, forests, ...) are introduced across the earth to show the interconnectedness of life at the kindergarten level. Biomes are studied within each continent at the elementary level. Mapping, building land and water forms, and studying earth, air and water gives insight to the dynamics of the world. Political and economic geography highlights boundaries, capitols, flags, and interdependence of people and materials.
Biology is the study of plant and animal kingdoms, their classification, characteristics, and habitat. The child explores this through working with nomenclature material, research, field trips, observations, and caring for animals and plants in the classroom.
The child explores the energies of the earth by studying the effects of magnetism, electricity, gravity, states of matter, and the solar system. Much of this is presented by questioning and discovering answers through experiments and building models.
Children learn how to cook and bake, use a washing machine, iron a shirt, arrange flowers, tie knots, use hand tools, plan a party, dress appropriately for any occasion, write thank-you letters, pack a suit case or backpack, first-aid, self-defense, and everyday rules of etiquette.
The Montessori classroom is a small community run almost entirely by the students. They keep the room in order, care for classroom animals, tend to the plants, and set up for special events.
Practical life is incorporated throughout the curriculum. Math processes are used for cooking, sewing, weaving and experiments. Cultural studies incorporates many hands on activities that require practical skills from caring for the environment to shopping, planning for needs of the classroom and oneself. Additionally, the outdoor classroom is an important aspect for exploring and caring for plants, animals and formations of the earth.
To meet the growth needs of the Lower Elementary program, SNHMA added an Upper Elementary program, in the fall of 2012. Consistent with the Montessori educational philosophy, the Upper Elementary program consists of students in grades 4-6 (ages 9-12). This program growth includes a facility expansion of 3000 square feet to be complete in June 2013.
Analyzing the components and structure of the English language are the primary focus of the Upper Elementary grammar. Students use a variety of grammar materials to learn structure, sentence analysis and the function of words. Additional lessons may include punctuation, capitalization, spelling and proper usage of words. Students reinforce their understanding of the concept learned through activities and assignments with a focus on editing their own work to apply what they are learning.
Students are introduced to a wide variety of reading material in the Upper Elementary program, this may include different genre’, novels, research and history materials. Students receive reading instruction and practice comprehension skills through group reading. Learning how to become an “active reader” is a key lesson for the Upper Elementary student. They learn to question, summarize, make inferences and predictions as well as draw conclusions from what they have read.
Writing in the Upper elementary is taught through the Six Traits writing process. Focus lessons are given on ideas, organization, word choice, sentence fluency, voice and conventions. These traits help to guide the children to a variety of writing with a focus on writing research papers. Students learn techniques for researching and locating information from various sources. There are lessons on note taking, as well as organizing the information collected and understanding how to put that information into the students own words. They receive instruction in paragraph structure and the structure of reports, as well as learning how to format a bibliography.
Students receive instruction in creative writing and have many opportunities to write stories, poetry and even plays. Students work with brainstorming techniques, figurative language and editing skills. They review their knowledge of language mechanics in their writing and practice editing of others’ work.
The Upper Elementary Math and Geometry programs continue from the Lower Elementary curriculum and progress based on the individual students’ needs. Lessons are held in small groups of students working on the same material at the same pace or one-on-one as needed. While the Upper Elementary classroom includes Math “materials” that are familiar to the child from Lower Elementary, the focus moves to higher math including beginning algebra, square and cube roots, base systems and powers of numbers. Upper Elementary is the time when many students become ready for Abstraction in Math.
Traditionally, the study of Geometry is undertaken in later years as an abstract series of rules, theorems, and propositions. Maria Montessori saw Geometry as firmly rooted in reality, and built a curriculum for lower elementary students that uses concrete, sensorial experimentation, leading students to concepts through their own creative research. Although sophisticated in content, Geometry at the Upper Elementary level continues to be well grounded in concrete experiences with manipulative materials. In this way, etymology is discovered, relationships and concepts are explored and researched, and the child’s conclusions serve as a basis for theorems, proofs, and formulas.
The Upper Elementary curriculum for social and cultural studies includes the disciplines of Geography and History. Our Geography curriculum is designed to show how the physical configurations of the earth contribute to history. It includes a study of physical geography, political geography and economic geography.
Students learn, compare and contrast the themes of geography that impact societies’ growth and development, including location, place, interactions of people and environments, movements and regions. Our students expand on their knowledge of political boundaries, map skills, cultures, communities and basic human needs.
Our Upper Elementary history curriculum carries forth from the Lower Elementary foundation of the Time-line of Life to focus on the Coming of Humans and the ensuing rise of civilizations, including our own. Our history themes are presented in three year cycles, allowing students to build a foundation of knowledge for historic comparison and contrast.
The Upper Elementary Science curriculum is a hands-on approach to science that motivates and stimulates curiosity. Utilizing the Full Optic Science System (FOSS) students learn to think scientifically by investigating, experimenting, gathering data, organizing results, and drawing conclusions based on their actions and observations. Follow-up questions to weekly experiments motivate students to think about new ideas and help them realize connections to other areas of study. Recall questions get them to remember information. Integrating questions get them to process information. Open-ended questions get them to infer, create, solve problems. Thematic questions help them realize connections between scientific ideas and processes. Areas of study include:
- Food and nutrition
- Human body
- Physics of sound
- Magnetism and electricity
- Levers and pulleys
- Mixtures and solutions
- Solar energy
- Land forms
Scientific Reasoning and Technology
- Models and design
The Information Technology Curriculum integrates seamlessly with classroom academics. Students acquire a progression of skills through teacher instruction, self-directed software programs and cooperative and independent learning. Students use age-appropriate learning programs, growing to become competent in the Apple-based software (iWork – Pages, Keynote, Numbers) and/or Microsoft Office Suite (Work, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, FrontPage), as well as safely and effectively utilize the Internet. Higher-order thinking skills and digital citizenship are critical for students to learn effectively for a lifetime and live productively in our emerging global society.
Knowledge of classical languages increases English vocabulary.
About half of all English vocabulary comes from Latin and another 20 percent from Greek. A thorough knowledge of classical languages will increase the students' English vocabulary tremendously.
Classical languages aid in the understanding of English grammar.
Latin teaches English better than English by requiring students to accurately identify each part of speech for every word.
Latin is the key to modern languages.
Knowing Latin makes it much easier to learn the grammar and vocabulary of the modern Romance languages (e.g. Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian),since they take 80% of their vocabulary from Latin.
Latin students perform exceptionally well on standardized tests and are sought after by competitive colleges.
As a result of increased vocabulary and facility with English grammar, students of Latin consistently outperform their peers on the verbal portion of the SATs (including those that have studied modern languages). Between 1997 and 2006, Latin students outscored the average by 157 points.
Health, Wellness and Physical Education
The intention of health and fitness education is to help children understand and appreciate how our bodies work and to care for their healthy human body. The physical education curriculum provides students with an opportunity to explore and enjoy learning fundamental movement skills and concepts. Students will be able to grow physically, socially, emotionally, and cognitively through group activities that will incorporate classroom social skills.
Creative Arts (Visual & Performing)
The arts are integrated throughout the curriculum. They are modes of exploring and expanding lessons that have been introduced in science, history, geography, language arts, and mathematics. Art and music history and appreciation are woven throughout the history and geography curricula. Students participate in singing, and dancing with teachers and music specialists. Students' dramatic productions make other times and cultures come alive.
The primary goal in a foreign language program is to develop conversation skills, vocabulary, the ability to understand basic written information in the second language, and an appreciation for the culture of the countries where the language is spoken. Foreign language is taught through an optimal mix of innovative, and proven teaching methods which include Total Physical Response (TPR), . Oral commands are given and the children respond physically. This is followed by reading and writing of the language. Exploration of the country involves cooking, art activities, and games.
An extension to the practical life curriculum, technology instruction is intended to equip the child with the skills necessary to effectively utilize current technology, specifically computers but will include digital photography and video taping. The computer technology instruction includes basic computer and keyboarding skills, researching a topics, downloading digital pictures, and webcam studies.
Various tools contribute to the assessment of a child's progress in the Montessori classroom:
- Observation: Each child is observed in his or her work environment on a regular basis. The teacher takes notes on the students work habits, peer interactions, and ability to process the task at hand. Observation helps the teach assess whether a child is ready to advance through different aspects of the academic curriculum, how well he or she is able to handle certain social dynamics, and allows teachers and students to have a reference point during student/teacher conferencing. Through this in-depth observation, teachers are able to quickly identify academic challenges the child may be facing and develop an individual plan to assist.
- Written Work: Daily and weekly written work is reviewed by a teacher to evaluate progress and ability. By reviewing the child's everyday work, we are able to see each child's natural strengths, as well as areas that are in need of improvement. With this knowledge, we can help a child find his or he most comfortable and natural way to advance.
- Portfolio: An ongoing portfolio with sample of each child's work is kept to track the success and progress of each student. Both teacher and student choose a variety of work to put in the portfolio.
- Classroom presentations: Each child has several opportunities through the school year to gather information and present a well-planned presentation of his or her work to peers, teachers, and parents. This process of research, writing, refining, and public speaking preparation is a wonderful tool to assess the advances a child makes through the year.
- Check point evaluation tools to assess proficiency: Through teacher-made and pre-purchased benchmark tools, the child can be quizzed without the pressure of a test, to demonstrate his or her knowledge and ability before moving on to new material with the child's' studies.