Typically our first graders are fluent readers when they arrive. This gives us the opportunity to immediately immerse the children in great, age appropriate works of literature and to expose them to more complex content than many other first grade programs.
We use materials from several highly regarded, nationally recognized reading programs to tailor a program that will meet the learning needs of each child and provide just enough challenge to keep a love of reading strong.
Language Arts lessons include grammar, punctuation, spelling, reading comprehension, book reports, and many creative writing exercises. Children read and discuss stories from a variety of genre. They use their skills in research projects, creative writing work, and throughout the curriculum for taking notes and expressing their knowledge through writing.
Public speaking and presentation skills are nurtured. Computers in every classroom are used to publish finished work and to encourage independent research.
There is no classroom on earth as well-endowed with math materials as a Montessori classroom! Golden Beads, Fraction Insets, the Stamp Game, the Dot Game, Cubing Materials, Long and Short Chains, Measurement of Area materials, and the Racks and Tubes for long division are just a few of the many, many materials that facilitate a strong understanding of numerical concepts and operations.
The materials are presented sequentially, when an individual child is ready to understand the concepts, and allow each child to move through the curriculum at his or her own pace.
The math curriculum includes elements of geometry, arithmetic, and algebra. Our goal is to enable children to grow comfortable manipulating numbers and concepts. While accuracy in computation is expected, children are encouraged to use a variety of processes to arrive at their answer.
The Montessori math materials clearly illustrate the otherwise abstract concepts behind math competency. This broad understanding of how and why math formulas and numbers work takes the fear out of math and sets the stage for more advanced calculations.
Our Upper Elementary children easily calculate square roots, “discover” the rules for measuring area, manipulate beads to take the mystery out of decimals and easily see the correlation between fractions and decimals.
We have been told by parents who happen to be math teachers that the materials are incredible tools for developing math mastery!
In the elementary years the curriculum covers Botany, Zoology, History of the Universe, Earth Science, and Chemistry. The basic tenet behind our approach to the sciences is to present the children with real examples before enlarging on concepts and facts.
In zoology, for example, the children study the classification of living organisms and follow an organism’s evolutionary path through history. In Botany, the children may go outdoors to collect real plants which they will examine as they label the parts of the plant.
The children create clay models of the solar system, go outside to draw a HUGE scale model of planetary orbits on the parking lot, and practice rotating and revolving around a friend and are astounded to see the scale model of Jupiter next to planet Earth…and beyond belief when they compare both to the twelve foot sun!
The study of energy and work forces takes place with the help of models of simple machines. The structure of an atom is explored with the periodic table and the “build a molecule” models. Every aspect of science is illustrated with real world activities and experiences.
This study is supported by continuing research and current events activities that give the children a broad understanding of our continuing quest for an understanding of where did we come from? How did we get here? Is there other life in the universe?
History and Geography
Traditional education looks at history as a timeline of warfare: its causes and effects on civilization. Montessori instead strives to empower children through the story of human accomplishments: in the arts, culture, government, invention, medicine, and general progress, while maintaining a deep respect for all life and the balances in nature that will support life for generations to come.
In geography, children work with hands-on materials to learn about land forms and physical features of topography. They create their own maps using the puzzle maps as guides.
Biennially, the children use cardboard boxes and much creativity to create a large model of a typical community, then discuss local and national governments, transportation and communication, trade and taxes, as well as discover why people have historically settled near rivers and in places with fertile soil.
In the upper grades, children study New Jersey, American, and World history again, employing hands-on materials, projects, and field trips.