(3 – 6 year olds)
Students of preschool or kindergarten age may attend morning and/or afternoon session 5 days per week. Limited 4-day per week afternoon spaces also are available for preschool students. Children learn at the pace most comfortable for them without the pressure of competition. The advantage of a mixed age-group is that children can work with those younger or older than themselves, according to their skills, yet still mix socially with children of their own age. This works particularly well for children who function academically at one age-level and socially at another.
The Three-Year Cycle
Ideally preschool and kindergarten students attend Montessori school for a three-year cycle, staying with the same Montessori teacher(s) and many of the same peers for all three years in the same classroom. Teachers track and observe each student daily and get to know each student’s strengths and interests so when a student returns the next school year, no time is lost getting to know each other. Students also feel socially confident and secure, ready to start new academic challenges right away and eagerly help new students quickly acclimate to the classroom and school. Kindergarteners benefit from the opportunity to be leaders in the classroom, helping younger students and thereby consolidating their knowledge while they are given more responsibilities and more challenging academic work. More is expected from our kindergarteners and they happily assume their leadership roles and enjoy their work.
New students also benefit from joining an established classroom where returning students help teach classroom rules and model classroom expectations. New students tend to assimilate and gain social and academic skills more quickly when they are given opportunities to integrate with older children. (Please read 25 Reasons to Keep your Child in Montessori through the Kindergarten Year.)
Activities are devised to refine small-motor development and help a child learn to focus, concentrate, follow a sequence, foster independence and develop good work habits.
The hands-on materials isolate one concept at a time and guide a child to discriminate sound, color, size, weight, texture, shape, taste and smell and are direct preparation for math and language development and all academic learning and critical thinking.
Montessori language materials in the 3 – 6 year old class takes children step-by-step through a series of pre-reading and phonics activities that lead to reading, writing, spelling, grammar and dictionary skills.
Activities are presented sequentially using the self-correcting manipulative materials. Beginning with simple counting and quantifying, students expand through addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, and memorization of key facts to working with decimals.
Geography, botany, biology, foreign language, and music instruction are essential and intertwined components of the curriculum.
Primary students work with puzzle maps to learn the countries of the world and the US states. They familiarize themselves with land and water forms using models. Our large multinational student base offers many opportunities to learn about different celebrations and cultures.
Botany and Biology
Children work with wooden puzzles and matching picture/word cards to learn the parts of flowers, trees, animals and insects. They learn about growth cycles and plant seeds and observe the growing process. They might watch butterflies
hatch from chrysalises or see a specially prepared slice of the inside of a beehive.
Spanish is the main foreign language taught but opportunities for more learning arise depending upon whether the teachers in each classroom are fluent in any other languages. Our native-speaking Spanish teacher visits each classroom once in the morning and once in the afternoon each week to provide group lessons. Using songs, stories, puppetry and a variety of other materials, students are exposed to Spanish language and culture.
Singing, rhythm, movement and music appreciation are taught by a specialized Montessori teacher who visits each classroom once in the morning and once in the afternoon each week. The music curriculum begins with a look at the origins and history of music. Students learn about the sections of the orchestra (strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion) and the instruments that make up each section, sometimes with visits from parent-musicians. They learn about and listen to works by a variety of composers from all over the world. Students learn about the four sections that make up a choir (soprano, alto, tenor, bass), parts of the song (e.g. melody, rhythm), and begin to use vocabulary associated with music (e.g. “forte” means loud, “piano” means soft, “fortissimo” means very loud, “pianissimo” means very quiet.) Students are shown the basics of musical notation and learn to recognize the different notes on a staff. Of course students also learn to sing a variety of songs throughout the year. Private piano lessons are also available on-site as an extra-curricular option.
Socialization and citizenship
Children learn to respect themselves and one another and how to be a positive member of a community. Cooperation, friendship, exercises in grace and courtesy and independent problem solving are integral to the learning process.
Skill-level appropriate instruction is given individually to each child in a separate computer lab. Preschool and kindergarten students attend 20-minute computer lessons at least once per week (twice if they attend both morning and afternoon). Students learn mouse and keyboarding skills, navigation, and work on a variety of programs that encourage critical thinking, practice cause and effect, sequencing and other skills. We intentionally separate computers for our students in a separate computer lab to limit screen time, allow students in the Montessori classroom to focus on tangible, hands-on learning without the lure and distraction a classroom computer may result in.
Every classroom has one or more pets, such as rabbits, stick insects, hermit crabs, guinea pigs, gerbils, fish, hamsters, etc. The children learn responsibility by taking turns caring for the classroom pet.
Students love to bring a healthy snack to share with classmates. Our voluntary school snack program allows families to participate by bringing a healthy snack to share about once a month. The school provides a snack calendar to parents. Snacks served are always nut free and meat free.
Lunchtime allows students to each lunch and enjoy a lunchtime recess between morning and afternoon classes. Any student enrolled in both morning and afternoon classes may stay during the lunch period for no additional charge. Students bring a lunch from home (use a thermos for hot items and pack a cold pack for any items that require refrigeration) or you may opt to sign up for lunch delivery through our partner Too Tasty Catering http://tootasty.orderlunches.com.
A student who attends only morning or only afternoon class may attend during the lunch period on a space available basis.
Fresh air and exercise are essential to the healthy development of a child’s mind and body. Students go outside for recess to run, play, climb, socialize, dig in the sandbox, ride scooters, ride tricycles, ride the scooter cars, and play outdoor games. We have several fully-fenced play areas to provide a wide range of outdoor play experiences: 1) a playground with a large climbing toy; 2) a large playfield with a huge covered sandbox, turf play area, little houses, a fort, climbing and balancing bars and tunnels; and 3) a blacktop area for scooters, trikes, scooter cars, jumping rope, basketball, four square and other games.
This unstructured outdoor playtime is an essential part of a preschool or kindergarten child’s physical and cognitive development so we go out in all but the worst weather. Students should therefore always have a weatherproof coat and sensible non-slip shoes. Send a hat and mittens/gloves during cold weather and be sure to label everything that may be removed by your child with permanent marker so that we may quickly return it should it get lost.
Kindergarten Graduation and Special Trip
A graduation ceremony is held for all children who have completed their kindergarten year and the students are also treated to a special kindergartener-only field trip in late winter/spring.