The Early Childhood Montessori learning environment is divided into four basic areas: practical life (everyday living); sensorial (materials focusing on one or more of the senses); language; and mathematics. Additionally, music, Spanish, art, technology and religion are integrated into the curriculum and further enrich each child’s experience.
Practical Life focuses on activities that will support focused learning in all areas. Practical Life develops the skills of order, coordination, concentration and independence. The child engages with familiar, home-based exercises such as pouring, spooning, washing, and sweeping. The students begin to focus on a single activity and learn to follow a sequence from beginning to end. Through these activities, the child attains independence and a sense of competence that will carry into all other areas of learning.
Around the age of 3, children begin to classify impressions through the exploration of specially designed materials. The aim of the Sensorial curriculum is to refine the child’s sensory awareness and provide a framework that will help the child make sense of the world. Children explore temperature, size, weight, color, sound and taste. They take pleasure in learning a wealth of vocabulary and in connecting it to a particular sensory experience. The sensorial curriculum helps the child be in-tune with their surroundings. It sets the foundation for literacy development and observation skills.
The precision, order, and attention to detail fostered within the Practical Life and Sensorial Areas of the classroom lay the foundation for what Dr. Montessori referred to as the “mathematical mind”. The math curriculum begins with activities that lead children to understanding sequence, recognition and quantity of numbers. Children learn that math is a practical need that permeates our whole lives. Dr. Montessori believed that we must let children experiment with concrete material so they can begin to understand mathematics. When the child works with the material, the experiences are assimilated at a deeper level, arriving at an understanding of concepts through the work.
Montessori uses a phonetic approach to language, starting with the sounds that make up words. Eventually, children start to “build” words, moving through three levels of material while developing phonetic awareness.
Language skills are also closely tied to social and emotional development. Children use language skills to express feelings, make friends, play, and develop ties to important people in their lives. The multi-age grouping of the Montessori classroom lends itself to a richer and more authentic interaction between peers that are at different developmental levels. The collaboration that happens between younger and older students supports the social and emotional development of the child.
Cultural Studies is an introduction to the functionality of the world using globes, maps, land and water forms, nomenclature cards and cultural activities. The children express themselves through songs, dance and art.
Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is an integral part of the curriculum. The teachers are trained in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and lessons are given on campus by trained teachers.