Casa and Kindergarten
Squamish Montessori School program for preschool (4 or 5 full or half day morning) or Kindergarten (5 full days) offers a mixed age group environment. The full curriculum is designed to be completed in 3 or 4 years depending on when your child starts. There are currently three Casa classrooms – two at our Loggers Lane location and one in Valleycliffe.
Children have an innate desire to become independent and take care of their own personal needs. The Montessori curriculum supports this drive by providing an environment and the necessary materials to support the path to independence. Exercises include taking care of self through proper hygiene, dressing, care of clothing, care of the classroom. These are all part of the early childhood Montessori classroom. Activities to support the many skills young children need to accomplish on the way to independence are all taught as specific lessons, with their own set of materials such as dressing frames and hand washing exercises. Many of these exercises are used as a bridge from home to the classroom as they are familiar to the child.
In order to work independently in a mixed age group, children are taught the rules of the classroom and how to work successfully within them. We present how to carry and use floor mats, how to tidy up one’s work, look after pets and plants, take care of books and prepare snacks. These skills are all taught as separate exercises that are designed to give children the freedom and confidence they need in order to work at their own individual pace in the classroom.
Exercises are scheduled in grace and courtesy. Children learn how to behave in certain situations and acquire the social skills essential for everyday living in society. Children develop a sense of personal dignity, an understanding of their own culture, and awareness and respect for people of all ages and traditions. Having the appropriate social skills enables children to engage positively in the classroom community and beyond.
Each exercise is designed to teach the child how to ask for something, welcome visitors, wait for one’s turn, work cooperatively, offer refreshments, introduce oneself, offer help to others, table manners, make eye contact, behave in public places, shake hands, and excuse oneself. Through social interaction involved in carrying out these exercises, the children develop the ability to work harmoniously in a carefully prepared environment.
Exercises for the development of fine and gross motor skills are carefully developed as part of the practical life curriculum and include: rolling mats, pouring liquids, threading, cutting, spooning, sweeping, carrying chairs, and walking in a line while carrying objects on a tray.
The practical life component of the Montessori early childhood curriculum is the underlying foundation for the success in the other areas of the curriculum. Each task allows children to gain independence, and to develop a sense of order, concentration, responsibility and coordination of movement. Children gain enormous freedom and confidence to work successfully both independently and cooperatively.
The Montessori sensorial curriculum allows children to discriminate and order the impressions that have entered through each of their senses. Scientifically designed materials that isolate each sense facilitate the development of the intellect through hands-on exploration. Children learn to separate and classify forms, colours, textures, tastes and smells. Exercises in this area refine the senses and develop skills in thinking, judging, concentrating, comparing, and sequencing. Materials offer unlimited opportunities for the development of vocabulary and the essential development of dexterity that will lead to writing and reading.
The Sensorial Curriculum is divided into the following areas:
Where children learn to discriminate by size, length, dimension, colour, similarity, difference.
Children learn to discriminate by touch. They match sandpaper and fabric of varying textures according to their similarities. They order material from rough to smooth and learn to contrast and compare
Continuing the process of matching, ordering, compare and contrast – this time using various sounds, musical bells, and instruments.
Exploration of weight, heat, shape, and taste is used by carefully designed materials and exercises which sharpen their senses at a time when they have a particular, developmental interest in this work (sensitive period). The sensorial exercises are designed to prepare children for more complex learning in language, math, and cultural studies.
Language in the Montessori early childhood curriculum focuses on the following areas:
Designed to meet the young child’s innate need to acquire language, significant emphasis is placed on building vocabulary and oral competency. Through the use of the Montessori materials, children acquire a rich vocabulary for labeling, describing, comparing and contrasting their environment and the people in it. Precise terminology is always used. Discussion is encouraged, and the children are given appropriate language to engage in a meaningful exchange as they get on with their work. Small group or circle activities are organized on a daily basis. These are opportunities for the children to enjoy a wide variety of language activities that are carefully designed to enrich their oral expression and strengthen their listening skills. Some of the areas include rhyming words, puzzle words, opposites, animal families, nursery rhymes, story telling, singing games, and poetry role playing. Language enrichment is embedded in the Montessori curriculum and is a central point of focus when the teacher is giving a lesson in any of the other curriculum areas.
Written language is introduced to children at about 4 years of age. Skills are taught separately by careful use of specifically designed materials. The exercises of pencil control, letter formation, sound/letter recognition, phonetic blending, word/object matching, sentence construction when presented in sequence, all lead the child to initial levels of competence in reading and writing skills. Children are encouraged to write their own “books” and so experience the joy of communicating their thoughts to others. Literacy skills develop rapidly as the child’s own inner drive to learn is supported by a carefully prepared program designed to meet this stage of activity.
The Montessori math curriculum is firmly based on learning through experience. Children use a wide variety of carefully constructed materials to lead to an understanding of the value and sequence of the numbers zero to ten. Children are then introduced to larger amounts and learn the concept of making groups of tens, hundreds, thousands, and the decimal system. Number notation and place value are taught as children develop an understanding of number concepts. Four and five-year-olds are introduced to the basic operations of addition, multiplication, subtraction and division at a concrete level so they experience what these activities truly mean. Gradually children move towards an abstract understanding of these concepts. Geometry is introduced in the early childhood program through the use of materials which are classified according to qualities such as, “these shapes have three sides, they are called triangles”, and “the four sides of these shapes are all the same size, they are called squares”. Children learn to discriminate, classify, and name circles, squares, rectangles, and polygons, always using materials as guidance. Fractions are introduced, again in concrete form, and an introduction to the concept of equal parts of a whole lay the foundation for further work with math. Children always build on what they know and systematically progresses from concrete to abstract. Children discover number patterns, sequences, and rules by handling the various materials.
On completion of the early childhood curriculum the child will demonstrate through the use of materials, and an understanding of the following:
- Number value, sequence, and symbol of 1 to 100
- The four basic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division
- Odd and even numbers
- Skip counting (early preparation for memorization of number facts)
- Reading and recording numbers for all of the above activities.
Our Montessori program is based on an integrated study of science, social sciences, and arts. Children are exposed to a rich, stimulating variety of hands-on learning activities.
In keeping with the Montessori philosophy of education, the children first experience the general rules of the world around them such as the division of land and water. These are gradually broken down into smaller parts such as the division of continents and oceans, and provinces and territories of Canada. Cultural differences and similarities are explored through music, dance, costume, and food. Festivals and traditions such as Hanukkah, Chinese New Year, Divali, St. Patrick’s Day are celebrated through art, stories, and geography. Work with cultural materials helps children become aware that they are a part of the large family of humanity. Weather observations and experiments help children appreciate the variety of clothing, homes, food that exist to meet people’s needs in various parts of the world.
Materials are available to help the children label, compare and classify parts of plants and animals. Particular emphasis is placed on having plants and animals in the classroom. The school will have flower and vegetable gardens. Children learn how to take care of these so that they thrive.
Music will be a daily part of our program. We will learn new songs and practice for Holiday and spring concerts. Singing is encouraged and spontaneous outbreak of song is not unusual.
Music instruction will be presented directly through work with bells. The children will learn musical scales. They will be exposed to reading and writing music. They may learn to compose their own music. We will have fun with rhythm and beat games. Classical music, dance, and finger-plays will be incorporated into daily activities.