The Montessori Environment and Curriculum present to young children an orderly, organized, integrated web of exercises which move the children from the concrete to the abstract. It is not a compartmentalized curriculum but flows naturally from one area of the classroom to the other, as the children experience success. These exercises, which we call “work” are organized into categories.
This area is arranged ideally by a source of water easily accessible to the smallest child. Exercises contained in practical life help the child gain the mastery necessary to function as independently as possible. Life skills are the main event. Here the children will experience a great deal of success as they develop social skills, eye hand coordination, a sense of accomplishment and self confidence. The exercises of the practical life area will remain a strong component of the child’s reality based curriculum throughout their time at VMS. The complexity of the exercises change as the child progresses. Handwork, out door living exercises such as gardening and animal care are part of the curriculum of the elementary program as well as learning to handle money and budgets.
The beautiful and precise Montessori Sensorial Materials were developed to help children “make sense” of the random pieces of information that come to them through their senses.
See it…Touch it…Smell it…Taste it…Hear it
These 5 senses are the way in which children acquire the necessary information to go on to more abstract forms of learning. Through the sensorial exercises of manipulating, grading, comparing, contrasting, sorting and sequencing of material, a bigger picture begins to take shape. Pathways in the brain are stimulated, connections are made which are later used in the process of scientific reasoning and mathematics.
The math materials begin with the hands on, concrete acquisition of quantity. It moves from the concrete to the symbolic and abstract. Montessori builds upon what was acquired in the earlier sensorial preparation to help young children refine and integrate the world of mathematics. The Materials are sequential starting with quantity and move from the simple concept of oneness to the complex functions of addition, multiplication, subtraction and division of numbers that go into the thousands.
It starts with our senses. Touch the sandpaper letter and make the sound. The approach to writing and reading are phonetic. We do not push. We let the desire to learn to write and read direct the child through the well thought out and concrete approach to the acquisition of the necessary skills.
The cultural area of the classroom is arranged to introduce children to the world in which we live. It includes exercises and lessons from subject matter contained in curriculums of Geography, History, Natural Science, Botany, Zoology, foreign language, music, art, and the Garden. The cultural area is the springboard from which all of the spiraling curriculum of the elementary years emanates.