Ages 3 to 6
8:30 am to 3 pm (including Extended Session)
Monday to Friday
From birth the child is striving for independence and adults, parents and teachers must help him/her on this path by sharing the skills needed to achieve this end. The Exercises of Practical Life are familiar activities the child has seen at home like pouring, sweeping, polishing, spooning and buttoning. These tasks help to develop concentration and coordination, social awareness and a sense of order in the environment. The child learns about the limits and possibilities of the material world – how to adapt to the environment and how to be creative in it.
We build a knowledge and understanding of the world through our senses, not just through listening, watching or reading. The quality of learning is directly related to the quality and quantity of the experience the child receives. Sensorial materials develop the senses of the young child by isolating a defining quality such as colour, weight, size, shape, texture, sound or smell. Each sensorial discovery or experience gets internalised and remains with the child throughout his/her life.
In a Montessori environment children evolve from the study of concrete mathematical concepts to abstract ones. With the help of specific materials, the child begins to recognise the shapes and names of numbers 0 to 9. Quantity is introduced and the child relates the written number with its specific physical quantity. The child gradually becomes familiar with the Decimal System and gains a deeper understanding of how numbers function. Quantities of units, tens, hundreds and thousands are introduced. Having learned concrete math concepts through the use of materials, the child is prepared to work with more abstract concepts such as fractions, key elements of geometry and problem solving on paper.
According to Montessori, the evolution of language begins with the infant’s innate capacity to absorb fragments of speech that form the basis for further language development. The child first discovers that sounds have meaning and then isolates parts of speech. His/her acquisition of oral skills occurs naturally. Parents and teachers must provide opportunities for the development of written language and reading.
Experiences gained from the Practical Life and Sensorial activities serve as a preparation for reading and writing. Children are given a phonetic basis for reading. The child hears the sound, sees the shape and by tracing, develops the muscles needed for writing. He or she is then ready to pursue an interest in words while cultivating writing skills at an individual pace. Through storytelling, conversation and many other exercises, the child’s vocabulary grows. Eventually these preparatory activities culminate in a child beginning to write. Montessori refers to ‘explosions’ into writing and reading and when they occur, they bring tremendous joy to both the learner and the educator.
All knowledge is connected and making connections brings added meaning to the excitement of learning and discovery. History, geography, science, math and language are intricately woven together and knowledge therefore becomes unified. Further young children eagerly absorb difficult concepts if they are presented in a concrete form. The Montessori materials make concepts tangible and serve as touchstones in the child’s memory for years to come.
At Head Start we believe that each child’s creativity is unique unto him/herself. Creativity is not the production of works of art but unity of the entire growing personality. In speaking, reading and writing the child must master the symbols and systems invented by others. In expression and application he/she should be allowed to use his/ her own ideas, devise his/ her own symbols and have the opportunity for expressing imagination and feeling.