Ages 3-6: Preschool / Kindergarten
The Montessori Preschool Teacher
The Montessori teacher is trained to understand and respond to children’s developmental tendencies. A keen observer, the Montessori teacher both follows and guides the child. For a complete description of the Educational Curricular Goals in the Pre-Primary Program, click here.
Montessori education is based on the inner motivation of the child. The Montessori teacher believes in the power of the individual child, who wants to do things by himself and act on his own. The child is able to choose his own work and learn at his own pace.
The trained Montessori teacher knows the developmental needs of children and prepares a classroom environment with an atmosphere of calm and order, warmth and care, awareness and joy.
The Prepared Environment
The prepared environment is Maria Montessori’s concept that the classroom environment can be designed to facilitate independent learning and exploration by the child. The Montessori classroom invites activity and participation appropriate to each child’s age and maturity. It is active yet calm. Here, the child experiences a blend of freedom and discipline in an orderly space designed to meet her needs.
With child-sized tools that really work, the young child is able to perform the same activities he has seen adults do: scrubbing, pouring, sweeping, polishing, gardening. These practical life exercises provide the link between home and school. Through these practical life exercises, the child begins to develop qualities that will extend beyond the classroom to life: independence, concentration, perfection of movement, self-direction, and the integration of movement with the will.
We have three pre-primary classrooms. Each oversized room provides space for 24 students, divided into three equal age groups. The program consists of eight 3-year-olds, eight 4-year-olds, and eight kindergarten students. Classrooms are equipped with in-room boys’ and girls’ restrooms, large sinks for works requiring water, and exterior doors leading directly to playground space.
Preschool children attend a half-day morning session Monday through Friday from 8:15 until 11:30 a.m. (Parents may elect a four-day schedule for their preschooler. However, there is not a special four-day tuition rate.) Kindergarten children stay for lunch/recess, and an afternoon enrichment program which dismisses at 3:00 p.m. (optional 11:30 a.m. dismissal on Fridays). A carefully structured phase-in program and the individualized format of the Montessori program allows each child time to adjust at his/her own pace. Visit our classrooms, and you will see happy children!
In the Montessori classroom, with child-sized tools that really work, the young child is able to perform the same activities he has seen adults do: scrubbing, pouring, sweeping, polishing, gardening. These practical life exercises provide the link between home and school.
There are four distinct groups of practical life exercises: Care of Person (buttoning, zipping, combing, tying, etc.) Care of Environment(cleaning, sweeping, gardening, polishing, ironing, etc.) Grace and Courtesy (greeting, serving, accepting, apologizing, thanking, etc.)Movement (balancing, “walking on the line,” the silence game, etc.)
While care of the house and body are necessary chores for the adult, the young child is attracted to these activities for very different reasons. They are meaningful, creative, filled with intricate movements and achievements that hold the child’s attention. Through these practical life exercises, the child begins to develop qualities that will extend beyond the classroom to life: independence, concentration, perfection of movement, self-direction, and the integration of movement with the will.
The Good Shepherd Catholic Montessori Key Area: Practical Life
Our pre-primary teachers have won grants to enhance the practical life curriculum with special activities in gardening, woodworking, and cooking.
Sensorial: Exploring the World
By age three, children have absorbed a myriad of sensory impressions from their world. Now the child’s developmental task is to give order to these impressions – to classify and describe them. The Montessori sensorial materials enable children to clarify, classify, and comprehend the physical world. Color, size, dimension, shape, form, sound, touch, taste, and smell – these concepts become vivid and clear to the child through repeated use of the sensorial materials.
Mathematics: From Concrete to Abstract
The Montessori math materials are carefully designed tools that lead the child from concrete to abstract understanding of mathematical concepts. Children manipulate a variety of rods, spindles, cards, beads, cubes, and counters, which symbolize mathematical abstractions.
The children do not merely learn to count, they are also able to visualize the whole structure of our numeration system. They perform the operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division with concrete materials. Children are also presented with opportunities for fact memorization at a young age when combinations like “3 + 2 = 5” offer a real fascination and can be absorbed readily. The math materials are sequenced so that mathematical discovery will progress smoothly.
Language: From Spoken to Written
The well-designed Montessori language curriculum enables the child to develop both the receptive (listening and reading) and the expressive (speaking and writing) dimensions of language. Throughout the entire Montessori environment, the child hears and uses precise vocabulary for all the activities, learning the names of textures, geometric shapes, composers, plants, mathematical operations, and so on.
The materials for written language begin by introducing the child to the sounds and symbols of the alphabet. Later, the child uses a moveable alphabet to compose words, sentences and whole stories. From this, the child develops the ability to read. Language work is integrated with explorations in religion, science and social studies.
Children learn cursive handwriting skills as soon as they demonstrate a readiness and interest in handwriting. Click here to read more about our rationale for teaching cursive penmanship first.
The Good Shepherd Catholic Montessori Key Area:
Phonemic and Phonological Awareness
Research points out the critical importance of helping young children develop skills in “phonemic and phonological awareness.” This involves the ability to clearly listen to the sounds of our language, and to begin linking these sounds successfully to the written symbols (letters and words) of language. At The Good Shepherd Catholic Montessori, phonemic and phonological awareness skills are strongly emphasized through a variety of materials and activities. Our teachers work proactively with parents to develop strategies for those children who need extra support in this area, so that the critical early-learning years, when the brain is more “elastic”, can be optimally used to develop a firm foundation in important language skills.
Geography and Science: Bringing the World into the Children’s House
Maps, flags, booklets, models, songs, foods, photographs, cards – a variety of appealing materials answer the many questions the older preschooler has about the world, and stimulates many more. Where do we live? What makes climactic zones hot or cold? Why do people around the world dress and look different? How did people live in the past? How did they meet their daily needs for dress, housing, transportation, and food? What are the names of the continents, the countries, the oceans, the animals, plants, rocks and minerals? The Montessori experience leads the child to knowledge and appreciation of the world and its human family, with all their rich variety.
The Good Shepherd Catholic Montessori Key Area: Cultural Awareness
Cultural studies come alive in our pre-primary environments through festivals, songs, special celebrations, and hands-on activities.
Art and Music: Integrated into the Life of the Classroom
Activities and materials for art and music are part of the child’s day-to-day classroom work. Children express themselves artistically with a variety of media, such as crayons, chalk, pencils, paint, clay, textiles, dyes, and various papers. Musical experiences include singing, dancing, moving to rhythms, and even songwriting.
Music and art are also explored culturally as they connect to historical periods and geographical places. Drawing a flag, dancing a folk dance, or listening to a work by a great composer can be part of an exploration of a country.
The Good Shepherd Catholic Montessori Key Area: Music and Movement
The Good Shepherd Catholic Montessori teachers regularly use movement and music activities from the MusikGarten program. These activities offer the children a rich experience in sound, rhythm, movement, listening, language, and imagination.
Working Outdoors: Expanding the Classroom Boundaries
In the Montessori tradition, there is little separation between the indoors and the outdoors. Sometimes nature is a part of the indoor environment through plant care, flower arranging, and care of one or more classroom animals. Outdoors, the children may plant flowers and tend small gardens as well as go on walks. Children also have time to simply play together outdoors daily (weather permitting).
* Portions of this description of the Montessori curriculum were reprinted with permission from the booklet: “What is Montessori Elementary?” edited by David Kahn (North American Montessori Teachers Association).