Casa (Preschool)

Program

As an authentic Montessori Preschool, North Star follows the Montessori Method. The curriculum reflects individual skill development, learning styles and interests. The environment is caring and nurturing, fosters independence and calls upon the child’s innate love of learning and thirst for information. Language, Mathematics, Art, Geography, Science, Music, Sensorial, Practical Life and other exercises, which encourage refinement of movement and the senses, make up the program.

The self-promoting Montessori materials in the classroom encourage learning through all five senses and provide a logical progression from concrete to abstract understanding. Children learn at their individual pace and according to their own choice of activities; in essence by taking ownership of their learning. This learning is achieved individually and in groups. The teachers carefully observe the children, record their progress, give further support and direction as necessary and present the next level of material when the child is ready. The children are challenged not only intellectually, but also in all areas of development.

Emphasis on the following skills enhances the child’s ability to be independent and to make educated choices:

  • Building concentration through repetition
  • Learning time management skills
  • Establishing good work habits
  • Finding and enhancing own learning style
  • Learning written and verbal communication skills
  • Encouraging cooperation and community building

The classroom is made up of the following areas:

Practical Life

Practical Life exercises show children how to care for themselves, for others, and for their environment. The purpose of these activities is to assist the child in the adaptation of their environment and to give them useful and meaningful skills so that they can become contributing members of their community. Many of the exercises children see as part of daily life in their home. Pouring, dusting, polishing, washing, doing the dishes and arranging flowers are just a few of these activities. Through these activities, children develop the muscular coordination and small motor skills necessary for writing and manipulating the more advanced materials they will use later on. The logical analysis of movement (specific, sequential steps) required supports the child to work at a task from beginning to end, develop their will, self-discipline and capacity for total concentration.

Grace and Courtesy is an integral part of the Practical Life exercises. These lessons help the child to develop the social behaviour expected in social and communal living. The children learn how to integrate social manners and etiquette that will enhance relations thereby building self-confidence. The exercises of Grace and Courtesy also build a sense of security in one’s own ability to behave by controlling oneself.

Sensorial

Sensorial Materials are tools for development. From birth to three years of age, the child takes in everything as a whole in an undifferentiated manner through imprinting by the Absorbent Mind. The Sensorial materials help the children build cognitive efficacy, and learn to order and classify impressions form this earlier period. They do this by touching, seeing, smelling, tasting, listening, and exploring the physical properties of their environment through the mediation of specially-designed materials. Children explore with these materials finding the similarities, differences, and connections between them.

Language

Language is vital to human existence. The Montessori environment provides rich and precise language from the moment the child enters the environment. Sound games are played from the beginning to help children establish phonological awareness. Lessons from all areas of the Montessori environment are also followed up with language lessons. So even before a child begins to read or write, a strong foundation is being built upon which to build more advanced literacy skills.

The language program is phonetically based. Once a child is familiar with all or most of the sounds, they begin to put sounds together to build words. When a child achieves a strong phonetic base in reading, they are introduced to blends, phonograms and sight-words. Grammar lessons begin early using symbols to represent words with particular functions. These symbols are used throughout the entire process of learning the parts of speech from preschool through to upper elementary.

Sentence structure, punctuation, journal entries, creative writing and poetry as well as fact-finding, report writing, reading, comprehension and penmanship skills are emphasized in the classroom. Kindergarten students may write a few sentences while Grade 2 students expand their writing to stories using punctuation and more advanced spelling and sentence structure. As students progress, they have increasing opportunities to present their work to classmates as well as higher and lower class groupings. This experience allows students to demonstrate presentation skills and leadership while experiencing self-confidence and often sparking interest in younger students.

“When the children come into the classroom at around three years of age, they are given in the simplest way possible the opportunity to enrich the language they have acquired during their small lifetime and to use it intelligently, with precision and beauty, becoming aware of its properties not by being taught, but by being allowed to discover and explore these properties themselves. If not harassed, they will learn to write, and as a natural consequence to read, never remembering the day they could not write or read in the same way that they do not remember that once upon a time they could not walk.”

Cultural Extensions

Geography, History, Biology, Botany, Zoology, Art and Music are presented as extensions of the sensorial and language activities. Children learn about other cultures past and present, and this allows their innate respect and love for their environment to flourish, creating a sense of solidarity with the global human family and its habitat.

Experiences with nature in conjunction with the materials in the environment inspire a reverence for all life. History is presented to the children through art and an intelligent music program.

Mathematics

Mathematics is a language that humans use to express themselves in a very precise and exact manner; it is a precise science of relationships. We are confronted daily with the need to express very exact information – How much? – How many? – How far? All of these questions require answers that must be precise and verifiable.

Mathematics involves the process of calculation which is a combination of observation and classification. Nature does not provide spontaneous means for the child to develop this potential. Therefore, mathematics is a language that children must learn in order to apply it.

The mathematics materials help the child learn and understand mathematical concepts by working with concrete materials. This work provides the child with solid underpinnings for conventional mathematical principles, providing a structured scope for abstract reasoning.

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