Imagine a room filled with young children, each engaged in an activity either alone or in small groups. While some are composing music to play on tone bells, one is preparing apple slices, and yet others are exploring geometric solids. The teacher wanders through the classroom, gently guiding her students. The classroom is lively, not disruptive. The mood is peaceful, not chaotic. Learning is self-directed, not forced. Welcome to a typical day in our Educara Preschool program.
Our beautiful and bright classrooms are designed to be stimulating and comfortable for children to learn and explore. They offer a diverse array of Montessori activities that teach tasks ranging from simple to complex. With ample space for personal, small group, and whole class learning experiences, our school provides the collaborative environment that is paramount to the Montessori multi-age classroom. Here, older children build leadership skills as they help their younger friends; and conversely, the junior students observe and learn from their older counterparts while gaining exposure to activities they will soon be doing themselves.
The prepared environment and curriculum addresses a full range of social, emotional, physical and cognitive needs of the 3 to 5 year old child. Montessori materials are carefully designed and sequenced for optimal learning. Our curriculum incorporates Mathematics, Language, Practical Life, Sensorial, and Cultural. In addition, students take part in Visual Art, Music, Physical Education, Yoga, and our Intergenerational Program. Our daily schedule always makes time for blocks of uninterrupted learning – a fundamental part of the Montessori educational experience.
The area of Practical Life includes activities concerned with care of self or others and care of the environment. The child develops independence and self-discipline through the use of the practical life materials. As the child learns how to button and tie, how to pour from a pitcher without spilling and how to care for the plants and animals in the environment, he or she grows in confidence and learns to take pride in his or her abilities and work. Practical life includes everyday activities. The child learns to prepare and to serve snacks and lunch, to sew, plant in the garden and clean the environment. In addition to learning a particular skill, the child learns to follow a sequence of steps and develops a sense of order. Many of the Practical Life ”jobs" develop fine motor skills that prepare the child for future academic work.
This second area of the classroom is unique to Montessori. From the moment they are born, children use all of their senses to learn about their environment. As students sort, grade and build with the sensorial materials, they learn to differentiate between objects and refine their senses. The child also becomes aware of subtle differences and learns to appreciate his or her surroundings. Many of the sensorial materials prepare the child for mathematical concepts as they learn about differences in length, weight and shape.
The Montessori environment is rich in language. Expressive language is the entry point for all reading and writing activities. In the Montessori classroom children are involved in conversation with the teacher and with each other. What the child has to say is valued. Children are encouraged to ”write" using the moveable alphabet before they are able to write using a pencil. A love of reading and early exposure is a hallmark of Montessori education. Phonics is introduced using the sandpaper letters. The tactile sandpaper letters are just one example of Montessori’s multi-sensory materials that utilize the different senses to acquire information. Children learn the sound of each letter, while using their sense of touch to feel the textured letter. As the child learns the individual sounds of the letters, he or she begins to read quite naturally by putting the sounds together into words. Since the Montessori Primary classroom spans a three-year age range, the younger children have many opportunities to witness the older children writing and reading. It becomes a natural next step, which they are eager to take.
When ready, students explore math concepts through the use of beautifully designed and sequenced Montessori materials. Through the use of concrete materials, students develop a sense of numeracy, learn to count and make connections between number symbols and quantity. Students continue developing basic concepts including skip counting, computation, place value and fractions with these hands-on experiences. Sensorial materials help develop early concepts in geometry and algebra.
This area of the classroom encompasses topics within the studies of geography (both physical and cultural), the sciences, art and music. Guided by curiosity about the world, the child learns new vocabulary, gains a greater understanding of the needs of living creatures and explores cultures with respect and appreciation. Art and music are an integral part of the Montessori environment. Many of the art and music experiences are closely tied to the cultures being studied.
* please note that Preschoolers are provided with two healthy snacks daily as well as a nutritious lunch prepared by the chef at V!va.
To see a sample schedule of what a day in our preschool program would look like, please click on the link below