Mequon Montessori Curriculum

Dr. Maria Montessori's ideas of education were based on her observations of how children learn. She believed that education was an aid to life and she developed a curriculum which supports her philosophy. Montessori's philosophy is based on observing a child in a prepared environment. As a Montessori school, we follow the foundation laid down by Maria Montessori by following her curriculum. There are five distinct areas in the early childhood program: practical life, sensorial, language, mathematics, and cultural subjects (geography, science, botany, music, art, etc.).

Practical Life
The Practical Life area of the Early Childhood curriculum includes activities which assist the child in developing practical living skills. The goal of Montessori Practical Life is to develop the child's order, concentration, coordination and independence. This area also fosters fine motor control and social interaction. The exercises of Practical Life include: care of the person, care of the environment, social behavior and exercises, which develop balance and coordination. Some examples are hanging up one's coat, putting shoes on, blowing your nose, snapping, buttoning, zipping, tying, sweeping, watering plants, serving food to someone else, carrying trays, pouring, and spooning.

Sensorial
The Sensorial activities are aimed at helping the child with his innate sense to order things. The sensorial equipment hones and refines the five senses, which Maria Montessori believed to be the receptors for all learning. The materials identify a single perceptual quality and disclose a range of discrete differences in the quality, and then explore the patterns in the differences. The materials analyze dimensions (size), forms (shape), colors, smoothness or roughness of surfaces, textures, weight (baric), temperature (thermic), flavor (gustatory), sounds (pitch & loudness), smelling (olfactory).

Language
Language is present at all times in the Montessori classroom but is formally introduced through a phonetic approach. The children are introduced to the sounds of the alphabet through the use of the sandpaper letters, which expose the child not only to the visual representations of the letter but also to its sound. The process of making the sounds into words is introduced through the use of the moveable alphabet. This is the Montessori approach to the beginning of formal reading.

Mathematics
We start off with 1-10 quantity/numeral relationships. This is followed by the concrete composition of teens, tens, etc.; the concrete representation of the decimal system; fractions, and the operation of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. These make up the math curriculum in a Montessori environment. Montessori speaks of the "mathematical mind" o f the child. She is speaking of the part of the mind that wants things to be exact, precise, measured, and precise. There is a natural tendency in a young child to want to classify and create order- in math it is already there.

Cultural Subjects
The areas of Geography, History and Science are components of the Montessori Curriculum. They encompass ideas of Cosmic Education and the interrelatedness of all things. This is the area where peace education is introduced. Maria Montessori believed that it was the natural desire of every human being to use their intelligence and endless curiosity to know and to explore the world around them.

Art
We encourage creativity by offering the child a wealth of different art experiences. Art is as important as math and reading because it gives children the chance to express themselves. Just as in math and reading, the basic techniques and mediums must be introduced first before creativity can begin. Therefore we show the child how to glue, cut, paint, etc. The art program generally follows the theme that we are studying with many added open-ended projects as well.

Physical Education
Gross motor movement and control are stressed throughout the day in our classrooms. Children have the freedom to move around as well as other activities specifically designed to allow for gross motor movement. Montessori emphasized that children learn through purposeful movement. In addition, we have a wonderful "Gym" teacher who comes to school once a week to work on physical education. The emphasis of his program concentrates on body awareness, the use of space, and the development of good listening skills.

Music
Music is incorporated into Line Time in the classroom. Children will be exposed to various cultural pieces coming from around the world as well as fun and silly songs. Appropriate songs are chosen to coordinate with the themes, and by the end of the year, the child has built up a wide repertoire.

Review
We have an environment designed specifically to offer a diversity of activities. There is a range of difficulty in the materials. Children use materials on a different level depending on their age. The materials are available all the time (not just at "math time" or "art time" or "reading time") and encourage self-exploration. They are self-correcting and allow a child to problem solve while providing concrete concepts for the child to master. Our teachers are trained differently to understand why a child is doing what he is doing and what learning materials will be most appropriate. The teachers balance freedom with limitation so activities are manageable and comfortable for the child. They provide a balance of self-direction and teacher direction. Also, children have ample time in a three-year period to explore all the materials that aid in their development. It is a relaxed time frame and the child is not pushed ahead if he is not ready. Children can pace themselves and gradually build an in-depth understanding of the principles that the materials represent.

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