Childhood Education for Ages 3-6 in Encinitas
Dr. Maria Montessori believed that human beings learn from participating in activities. They must do the work for themselves and only then, is learning actually taking place with interest and understanding. She felt that children learn best in a prepared classroom environment, which serves to make the child independent of the adult. The teacher, or Directress as they are known in a Montessori classroom, allows a child to work at their own pace, and this allows a child to engage in meaningful activities. Since children are free to work with the materials on their own, they have the opportunity to explore and absorb what they learn.
The Environment (for Ages 3-6)
A Montessori environment is prepared for children age three to six years, together in one class, with materials appropriate for each level. The classroom invites exactness, precision and an aesthetically pleasing environment in which the children learn respect for one another and the materials around them. The materials are purposeful, clean, neat and complete. They must be accessible to the child with generally only one of each exercise. This encourages a child to be patient or the choice to take another activity, thus learning respect for others. The classroom is prepared to help children accomplish their goals and work independently by gaining confidence and practice in a particular skill. Gradually the children reveal qualities for which they are not usually given credit for such as:
- Concentration skills and longer attention spans
- Precision of movement
- A sense of order
- Maximum effort, even by the youngest children
- Self-discipline and a respect for others and the environment
- Peacefulness and kindness towards others
- An obvious joy in “work”
The Preliminary Exercises develop movement and coordination. They form the foundation for other exercises and basic movement within the class. They teach children self-control over their bodies and enhance their awareness of the world around them. Through active Movement in the class, the children learn about listening and concentration:
- Care for The Environment both indoors and out, helps to create a full self-expression of love for the environment.
- Care of The Person through dignity and independence, not just of oneself but of others as well. Grace and Courtesy are much deeper than manners; it is living together with respect. Children thrive on knowing what to do and when to do it, this gives them respect for others and the community.
The Practical Life materials assist the child’s development in:
- Lengthening their attention span
- Fine and gross motor movement
- Coordination – lengthening their attention span
- Coordination – through will and action (a purposeful activity)
- Orderly work habits – to create oneself with order, purpose and values
- Logical thought – to find purpose in all activities (especially sequential exercises later on)
- Responsibility – a direct response of freedom and discipline
- Socialization – the child learns to care for self and others (respect and appreciation)
The sensorial materials in the classroom are a representation of a selection of materials using various colors, shapes, textures and sizes. First, they help the child refine their senses, therefore widening human perception. Secondly, they are the classification of sensorial experiences and impressions. Thirdly, they introduce the material world to the child, in order that they adapt themselves and learn using their own knowledge freely.
Through the sequence of sensorial materials, the child is exposed to the various elements in the environment:
- Discrimination of Size allows the child to find order in a complex number of similar objects. This gives the child the ability to group long to short, large to small, thick to thin etc.
- Discrimination of Color comes through working with the various color boxes and learning that life has an infinite amount of colors to offer. By mixing and matching colors, children learn that colors make our environment an enriching experience.
- Discrimination of Shape invites the children to explore the world around them. By introducing various geometric shapes, the child can look beyond the obvious and continue to explore how the world is made up. They also learn that you can combine shapes to build a particular item.
- Tactile Sense (sense of touch) allows the child to learn to discriminate between soft, coarse, thin, thick etc. This again opens up the possibility for the child to explore other various textures and surfaces used within the environment.
- Baric Sense (sense of weight) shows the child that various objects (even though they may look similar in size) may have different weights, teaching the child to analyze both visually and by touching or lifting them.
- A Sense of Taste, Smell and Hearing exercises allow the child to “experience” a particular area in life that interests them. The child then realizes that all things have a very distinct taste, smell or sound.
Language is an instrument of collective thought. We use words to represent our experiences and express our thoughts, allowing for effective communication. The child absorbs language, and it becomes part of them at a very early stage. Language is a spontaneous creation from the environment. It does not matter how complicated or simple a language is, the child will unconsciously absorb it.
Preliminary Language exercises teach the child to listen carefully to not just the words, but also to the sounds that make up the words. The child learns to listen to the “whole” word.
Writing exercises through the sandpaper letters allow the child to visually see the letters and internalize them through touch. The moveable alphabet gives the child the opportunity to see that sounds have symbols; symbols combined make words, which is a building block for reading. The metal insets and their frames help prepare the hand for writing in a controlled area.
Reading exercises allow the child to connect words with the appropriate objects. Children are encouraged to expand their reading skills and are introduced to phonetic cards, phonogram booklets and puzzle words (or “sight” words). This helps the child expand upon his reading skills and become a “total” reader.
Function of Words show the child that each word, within a sentence, has a specific meaning and if changed, can alter the sentence drastically. Children learn that the use of the noun, verb, adjective, adverb, etc. are all needed in order for the sentence to be complete.
Reading Analysis and Comprehension allows the child to read, understand and retain the story, poem etc., thus enriching their vocabulary and adding to their knowledge and language skills.
The child is prepared for mathematics with the aid of practical life, sensorial and language materials. The child is continually learning about the logical sequence of events, coordination, concentration and the precision with which they are carried out. Through exploration, the child can work freely with the materials and learn from the experience.
Numbers to Ten give the child the opportunity to see the symbols used from 0 – 10 and learn to associate the quantity that corresponds with them. Next the child is introduced to sequencing the numbers.
The Decimal System helps the child to realize the different categories and the quantities that match with them from one to nine thousand and beyond.
Teens and Tens Boards introduce new language to the child and fills in the “gaps” between ten and twenty – ten to one hundred. The child learns that by adding a unit or a zero, the number value changes.
Exploration and Memorization of Tables gives the child, through addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, the freedom and confidence to work with any and all mathematical problems. With the previous materials used, the child has learned to categorize and visualize numbers and can begin working abstractly in the math area.
Fractions enable the child to understand that a whole is divided or broken up into equal parts; therefore a fraction means a part of the whole. This shows the child that in mathematics, a number is given to each size of a part of anything. It does not matter how large or small the quantity is, it is represented by a mathematical term.
The children learn about the world around them through various Montessori materials. The use of puzzle maps, atlas’ and globes (to name a few) allows the children to learn, depending upon their age, many different aspects of a continent or the name of a particular country, its flag, the capital city, population, terrain native to a particular country, import/export, animals (land, air and ocean) etc. They are introduced to land and water formations, space, weather, explorers and many other facts about the world we live in, both past and present. And possibly what the future may hold in the way of technology, science and human potential.
This program follows the concept of “Earth Kinder”, a Montessori philosophy that emphasizes the natural processes and harmonious living on our planet. Children are introduced to plants, water, the sun and learn about the delicate balance of our ecosystem and how it affects their everyday life.
Zoology is studied in-depth and introduces the child to animals and their needs, characteristics and habits. Children are always fascinated with animals, whether they are learning about animals that live in the wild, pets, marine life or dinosaurs.
We believe that through the use of technology, young children develop their resources comprehensively to become educated and productive in an ever changing and complex world.
Spanish is offered two times per week to the children. Beginners start with common verbal skills, learning items such as colors, numbers, songs, vegetables, animal names etc. As a child’s skills develop, they learn specific pronunciation, writing skills, spelling, verbs, nouns, poems and stories.
This is a time for children to develop their listening skills, self-confidence (while sharing at show and tell), and learning about current events. This is a most enjoyable time for children, as they share ideas and express their thoughts through stories, poems, songs and finger plays. Weekly themes are also discussed at circle time, giving children an opportunity to learn more in depth about a particular topic of interest.
Self-expression through art is an important part of the weekly program. The children are encouraged to develop their creativity and self-esteem through arts and crafts.
Music is an important form of self-expression, allowing the children an ongoing exploration of themselves. Through different types of music, a child develops listening skills and an appreciation for different styles of composing. We introduce the children to singing, humming, movement, rhythms, beats and playing various instruments.
Through weekly physical activities, the children are encouraged to increase their physical limits, which in turn, allows them to develop confidence in their ability.
A variety of extra-curricular activities are offered after school by experienced instructors in the school, which may include:
- Eric Mobil Gym
- Amazing Athletes
- Kinder Dance
Field trips offer a “hands on” experience to the children, and we often choose our field trips to compliment the curriculum. Casa children usually go on up to three field trips per school year (one per term) and we have visited many different places such as: Carlsbad flower and strawberry field, Birch aquarium, Science Muslim, Pumpkin Patch and so on. Parent volunteers are always welcome.