Nursery 2 / Kindergarten 1 / Kindergarten 2
“So, from the age of three till six, being able to now to tackle his environment deliberately and consciously, he begins a period of real constructiveness.” -Dr. Maria Montessori
Dr. Montessori referred to this stage as the period of the Absorbent Mind. She observed that children under the age of six absorb information without effort, through their everyday interactions with those around them and their environment. This important time of development provides the critical foundation of a child’s character, learning, and growth.
As in all stages of child development, Dr. Montessori noted certain sensitive periods during this stage, a time when a child is powerfully motivated, driven, and able to learn certain things. These sensitive periods include aspects of movement, reading, mathematics, order, music, grace and courtesy, and many others. The classroom environment is designed to give the children a place in which they can work and learn freely, following their interests and natural tendencies.
Your child’s early years are a very important and special time. Dr. Maria Montessori observed that the first 6 years of life were a period when a child has an extraordinary capacity to learn.
Experiences in these years lay the foundation for future development and learning. Cheston Montessori aims to make the most of the unique period from 4 to 6 years in your child’s development.
The Children’s House program aids the development of confidence, independence, coordination, order, concentration, self-discipline, motivation, respect for others and the environment and importantly, a love of learning.
Cheston Montessori offers a three year Montessori program for 4 to 6 year olds staffed by qualified directresses.
All children attend Monday to Friday, three hour session daily (8.30am to 11.30pm) with the three to six year olds having an option to join the extended day program till 3pm. Working in a smaller group at this time enables the children to focus on extension activities preparing them for primary school.
Afternoon care for all children (Full Day Program) is also available. This program includes a short nap from 1 to 3 hours allowing the children to take a break from activities to recharge their mind and rest their physical body.
The Children’s House school day is much similar with the Toddler Community however features an uninterrupted work period in the morning. This extended time allows for children to focus and concentrate without distraction. Outdoor and Physical activities are done in the later part of the morning compared to the Toddler Community. Activities such as washing dishes, dusting, and mopping is continued to help children learn to work independently and prepare them for work with reading and mathematics. Children of this age initiate projects and activities, collaborate with classmates and take full advantage of the learning materials.
In keeping with the proven Montessori approach, children are grouped together in mixed ages, much as a natural family would be. This create a community of learning where students become mentors to each other and provides a good range of social interplay and the opportunity to learn from experience, and through observation of others. As in a home environment, the older children help the younger ones, providing role models and enhancing their own self-esteem.
The Children’s House environment is designed specifically for children of this age to facilitate the student’s learning process. Our classrooms are crafted to take advantage of a child’s ability to absorb and learn from their environment.
The Children’s House program includes a one-hour lunch. The children have lunch indoors or outdoors, as weather permits. The children may bring a home-prepared lunch in a container, and we encourage parents to pack nutritious foods.
Independence, confidence, coordination, motivation, order, self-discipline and concentration, respect for others and the environment and importantly, a love of learning are developed in our Children’s House. The Children’s House also comprises an organized approach to problem solving and academic skills. As a child moves throughout the environment, there is freedom to choose from a range of activities and experiences that satisfy his or her unique interests. This freedom of movement to allow for social interactions and creates a small community where an emphasis is placed on care and respect of oneself and of others.
The specially designed Montessori materials and activities are grouped into four key areas. The curriculum is totally integrated with cultural subjects being immersed in all 4 areas.
Practical life enhances the development of task organization and cognitive order through care of self, care of the environment, exercises of grace and courtesy, and coordination of physical movement. These activity aids the child’s adaptation to their environment, refine their movement, and promote concentration.
The sensorial area enables the child to order, classify, and describe sensory impressions in relation to length, width, temperature, mass, colour, pitch, etc.
Language arts includes oral language development, written expression, reading and the study of grammar, creative dramatics, and children’s literature. Basic skills in writing and reading are developed through the use of sandpaper letters, alphabet cut-outs, and various presentations allowing children to link sounds and letter symbols effortlessly and to express their thoughts through writing.
Mathematics makes use of manipulative materials to enable the child to internalize concepts of number, symbol, sequence, operations, and memorization of basic facts. It is the learning of numerical concepts using concrete mathematical materials to introduce numbers symbolisation, the decimal system, the 4 operational processes (adding, multiplying, dividing and subtracting) and memorization. Concrete materials introduce the concept of geometry and the study of 2D and 3D work.
Cultural activities expose the child to basics in geography, history, and life sciences. Kinaesthetic, auditory, and visual methods are integrated into the challenging curriculum, and children understand abstract concepts through the introduction and use of ingenious manipulative learning tools. We focus on nurturing each child’s sense of accomplishment and believe self-motivation is the only valid impulse to learn. Within our walls, children find learning a life-long process, a journey of discovery–not merely a matter of completing assignments.
Desired Outcomes of Children’s House Program:
- Increase of independence from new skills and competencies
- Increase knowledge and vocabulary
- Internalization of symbol systems: language and math
- Patience and the ability to share
- Good work habits
- Ability to choose
- Care and respect for the environment and others
- Logical/Linear thinking
- Sustained interest
- Love for learning
The Montessori preschool classroom is a “living room” for children. Children choose their work from among the self-correcting materials displayed on open shelves, and they work in specific work areas. Over a period of time, the children develop into a “normalized community,” working with high concentration and few interruptions. Normalization is the process whereby a child moves from being undisciplined to self-disciplined, from disordered to ordered, from distracted to focused, through work in the environment. The process occurs through repeated work with materials that captivate the child’s attention. For some children this inner change may take place quite suddenly, leading to deep concentration. In the Montessori preschool, academic competency is a means to an end, and the manipulatives are viewed as “materials for development.”
The preschool environment unifies the psycho-social, physical, and academic functioning of the child. Its important task is to provide students with an early and general foundation that includes a positive attitude toward school, inner security and a sense of order, pride in the physical environment, abiding curiosity, a habit of concentration, habits of initiative and persistence, the ability to make decisions, self-discipline, and a sense of responsibility to other members of the class, school, and community. This foundation will enable them to acquire more specialized knowledge and skills throughout their school career.
Imagine the Children’s House…
Enter a room, pleasant with lovely photographs and framed paintings hang in view for the children, magnificent and scientifically informed Montessori materials fill the room. Each exquisite work, carefully fashioned from superior natural materials. Different plants and flowers decorate the room, while sweet potatoes suspended by toothpicks in glasses of water sprout roots and seedlings stretch out of dozens of miniature flowerpots around the room. The room is busy with children working with assorted materials either sitting at child-sized tables and chairs or on the floor with small rugs. A few children purposefully walk around the room considering different works or activities arranged on the child-sized shelves. Each child, whether working independently or quietly in pairs, is happily absorbed in the task in front of them.
In an area of the classroom, a young boy sits at a small wooden table practicing transferring tiny Mung beans from one bowl to another with a delicate spoon. Carefully spooning each bean individually, the boy is not only perfecting his fine motor skills and practicing for eating with a spoon, but more importantly, he is developing his concentration-without which he will have future trouble learning complex concepts.
A little girl chooses a small rug from a basket of several rugs and puts it on the floor in a space where there aren’t many children working. She then, seemingly aimless, walks around the room, finally settling on a work. She chooses the pink tower, a mathematically inspired Montessori material comprising of ten wooden cubes, graduating in size based on the metric system. She carefully takes the tiniest cube from the top of the tower using two hands and walks across the room to place it on her small rug. She repeats this task with each of the cubes. When she has all the cubes on her rug, she unknowing embarks on a sensorial and mathematically infused experience. She uses her hands and fingers to trace the shape of the blocks and feels the different weights of the different sized blocks. She commences an undertaking of putting the ten cubes into various patterns. With each iteration, she is unconsciously becoming familiar with mathematical thought (the decimal system, fractions, and division).
A young boy sits alone at a table with a small piece of paper, some coloured pencils, and flat piece of metal with a large, perfect circle cut out of centre. He places the metal inset on the paper and begins to trace the outline of the circle precisely. He repeats this action several times until a thick-lined circle is on his paper. After putting the metal inset to the side, he traces the circle again and then colours it with a multi-coloured pattern of his creation. The metal inset is a Montessori material designed for language, as muscular preparation for writing letters. While the boy is simply tracing a circle, he is simultaneously developing muscle memory for the future writing of letters and numbers with circular lines, such as “a” and “0”.
Next to a large multi-tiered shelf containing several large puzzles of the continents, a girl is working quietly tracing the outer edges of a puzzle piece in the shape of Brazil. She is completing a multi-step geography work consisting of a very large traced drawing of South America with all the countries traced in the correct geographical position. She has been working on this for more than a week. As she colours in the traced shape of Brazil, she is lost in thought contemplating the borders of Brazil. She recalls the feeling of tracing the large shape. She thinks about what she knows about South America. She starts quietly humming the Continents Song in her head, knowing that South America is one of seven continents. She remembers various items that her teacher presented from the South America box. There was some fabric, some pictures, and a few books. She thinks fondly of the photographs of the interesting animals that live in South America. She smiles as she remembers the story about the tree frogs on a family vacation to Chile that her friend’s mom told her class about one afternoon. Then, absolutely engrossed in the past couple weeks of learning about South America, she starts loudly singing the Ecuadorian lullaby she learned last week. She surprised herself, looking around to see if anyone noticed. Nobody was looking at her. All her friends were busy with their works. She went back to colouring in Brazil, careful to be as neat as she could.
The five and six year old Montessori children are comfortable and capable of understanding the intricate, complex, complicated work of mathematics, reading and writing, detailed geography, and in-depth, hands-on biology while keeping their classroom clean and orderly, taking care of their own bodies and clothing only because they have been developing the necessary skills since they were in the Nido Environment.
The infant who is cared for in a loving, serene environment develops trust in the world. With that trust, she begins to hone her gross and fine motor skills. When she moves to the Toddler Community, she is ready to perfect her skills. She increases her concentration and determination and fortifies her self-confidence as she masters the assorted works. Finally graduating to the Children’s House, she is ready to put all these skills and characteristics to use, jumping from the foundation that she built throughout the first three years of her life to embark on her academic journey.