Our Traditional Montessori curriculum is based on the way children naturally learn new skills. Dr. Maria Montessori observed “sensitive periods” in a child’s life in which the child is sensitive to the development of certain skills. She also observed that children learn each skill best if it is isolated from other skills and if the real-life application is repeated enough and if it is increasingly difficult.
From her observations, Dr. Montessori developed a continuum of lessons (with certain levels of learning difficulty) and specific learning materials that support the basic philosophy and instructions that she encouraged. The teaching method encourages “following the child” i.e. the teachers give the right lesson at the right time and allow the child to make his/her own progress.
The teacher provides age-appropriate activities to guide the learning process. The process is integrated, and diverse concepts are presented across the curriculum. As the children progress through the grades, the concepts are presented in different ways, giving the children repeated opportunities under different contexts to practice the skills being learned. Children learn through creative choices, self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play. They sometimes work in groups and other times individually to discover and explore the world around them. That way they can maximize their potential.
The culture curriculum is based on Maria Montessori’s “Cosmic Curriculum”. It is an integration of the traditional subjects such as history, geography, science, civics and economics. These subjects are taught under the same umbrella because Dr. Maria Montessori believed that children would benefit fully by learning about their environment, its structure, its history and how things work.
The classes share myths from different cultures around the world, and scientific theories about the origin of the universe. Then it introduces the solar system, planet earth, what makes up our physical world, geology and history.
While teaching the same basic skills as traditional schools, the Montessori method presents the subjects through an integrated approach. The geography of a place can be integrated with the history, art and economy of the place, bringing everything to a whole. As a result, the students can understand the interconnectedness of all things and they can immerse themselves into the topic and satisfy their curiosity.
The culture curriculum develops several skills for the children. Geography helps them to develop spacial awareness and orientation skills. History develops in the child’s sense of the passage of time. Science satisfies the children’s curiosity about the physical world, helps them to form theories, and then to observe and test the validity of the theories. As a result, the children learn to differentiate between theory and fact. They also learn to figure out how things work.
During the early years, the students learn control of movement, fine motor skills and eye/hand coordination. In the later years, the art program maintains a balance between skill instruction and free exploration. In the process the children build on their art vocabulary, history of art, art appreciation, artists and their techniques, and various forms of art expression (architecture, painting, sculpture, computer graphics, etc.). As a result, the children are encouraged to pursue their natural desire for self-expression.
The children also learn how artists and their art contribute to society and culture, both in the past and in the future. While they participate in creating art, they also view art from the vantage point of an audience. They become very much aware that art is a silent but very effective method of expressing opinions, feelings, perceptions and history. Last, but not least, the children eventually realize that art is very much part of their lives in mathematics, nature, cooking, sports and music. It is hoped that eventually each student manages to “find and nourish the artist within him/herself.”
Children have a natural tendency to learn how to read and write. In the early days the children listen to stories which raise an awareness that the spoken words have a written representation. They become aware that words are written from left to right and from top to bottom. They learn to read and write progressively, and their learning is presented from concrete to abstract, in a spiral fashion and at each child’s individual pace.
In the early years the children learn the letters of the alphabet by their sound, not by name, this is called Phonological Awareness. They progress to forming words with the “moveable alphabet” and then to forming sentences and reading those sentences. With that skill they begin proper letter formation and to write “stories.” They practice a lot to decode/identify simple words and to read their created sentences. With that skill they immediately jump into phonetic readers and then into books that are specifically chosen for their literacy value. The next stage is to develop comprehension and inference skills. Then the children can read various subject areas.
Grammar development, sentence analysis and spelling skills follow. By the lower elementary grades, the students express themselves clearly, creatively and correctly through writing projects. At the same time, they hone their public speaking skills by sharing what they have learned and by explaining to other children how to complete certain work..
Dr. Maria Montessori realized that our lives are based on mathematical patterns and that mathematics leads to a discovery of natural patterns and natural laws. She noticed that from the ages 3-6 years children develop concepts such as size, quantity, counting and measurement.
Like all other subjects, mathematics learning begins with concrete and develops to the abstract. Concrete materials and carefully constructed “works” are available to help the children’s development of mathematical awareness and mathematical thinking.
The children spend most of their early childhood gaining concrete experiences with mathematics. They apply their knowledge to different real-life tasks such as cooking, daily temperature readings, calculating the height of a tree, and measuring the school building. Slowly they gain an understanding of mathematical concepts through the practical’s. Their ability to think at high levels of abstraction are usually fully developed during the adolescent years.
Our Montessori science curriculum seeks to cultivate children’s natural curiosity and to allow them to discover the answers to their “why” questions. Science study concentrates on the process: hypothesis, procedure, observation, data analysis and conclusion. This helps them to think before deciding, to use a logical method of discovery or testing and to use data to evaluate results and arrive at a conclusion.
Along with process, the science curriculum provides each child with a basic knowledge of zoology, botany, energy, earth science, astronomy, human development and personal health. Hands-on experience with the nature, scientific materials and equipment helps to promote learning.
Pinnacle Montessori curriculum wants children to be excited about the complexity and grandeur of the universe, the simplicity of physical laws and the miracle of life. These endeavors encourage respect for our world and an understanding of our place in the natural order of things. The goal is the development of an ecological view of life and a healthy respect for the responsibility of their earth.
Practical Life exercises are an important part of the development of the young child. They depend on the child’s “sensitive period” for order, movement, purposeful activity and social relations. Practical Life skills allows the child to realize that he/she is part of a community and that his/her actions affect the whole. Using the real-life objects such as glass pitchers and plates for eating, tools, pruning shears, etc, children develop self-esteem, inner discipline, confidence and control of movement. Lessons in Grace and Courtesy are used to serve to establish a social conscience and an understanding of the functioning of a healthy community / classroom.
The Sensorial Curriculum of Pinnacle Montessori builds on the Practical Life curriculum. It capitalizes on the young child’s “sensitive period” for the development and fine-tuning of the senses and increased fine motor skills.
The Sensorial curriculum offers each child the experiences they need through many kinds of “works” to be repeated as often as the child wants, this builds and reinforces sensory data that will later play an important role in what comes next in the child’s development.
As with the Practical Life curriculum, lessons are varied to meet the needs of each child. Mastering these skills is not the important part. The purpose is the for the developmental benefits they suggest.