Preschool/Casa

The Preschool Classroom (Ages 3 to 5)

Due to the advanced Montessori materials, both our Preschool/Casa and our Elementary children can make significant academic progress. The point that must be made, however, is that that isn’t the point of the exercise!  We don’t set out to create little geniuses. We set out to help children reach their potential, whatever that potential might be.

Maria Montessori understood that we cannot educate a child. In order for school to be successful, the child must educate himself. A truly educated individual never stops learning. A true education is fluid and ongoing. It is a living thing that continues long after the last year of traditional schooling. As a result, the goal of early childhood education sindependent school mathhouldn’t be to fill a child’s mind with myriad facts, but to create in the child a love of knowledge and learning.

It is for this reason that we allow, as much as possible, independent work and thought. It is for this reason that we encourage, as much as possible, initiative and curiosity. It is for this reason that the classroom is filled with books, maps, and other tools of learning so that your child can discover the pleasure of constructive work.

The Preschool/Casa classroom can be divided into 5 areas:
1.  Practical Life Activities
2.  Sensorial Activities
3.  Language
4.  Mathematics
5.  Art, Music and Culture

 Practical Life Activities

You’d be surprised, and somewhat skeptical I’m sure, if I told you that one of the most important areas in our classroom isn’t the advanced math area, but the practical life area. This is the place where our young arrivals start. This is where we lay that all important foundation. The fact that your child learns to sweep the floor won’t impress you much, but we know the value!
Your child will work with everyday objects that have a visible purpose. A three year old will wash, rinse, and dry his own glass after he’s had snack. He knows that he’s done important work because he’s seen you do the same thing at home. This part of our classroom offers your child a comfortable link between home and school, and it allows him to practice being just like an adult. While moving through this part of the curriculum, your child will learn to pay attention to detail, to persevere, to gain precision, and to develop great concentration. His fine motor skills will improve dramatically, his ability to focus on his work will grow even longer, and his organizational skills will begin to develop.

While you look at these pictures, please notice the intense concentration you see on the faces of these three year olds. They are focused and happy in their important work. Now imagine these children in two years. They will be equally focused and happy while they do four-digit subtraction with borrowing. Why? Because they learned how to learn when they were three years of age.

Pre-schoolSensorial Activities

This area of our classroom is filled with materials that help to refine your child’s senses. There are items that vary in colour, shape, texture, or sound. This will encourage your child to notice small, but important, differences. Here, the children start to distinguish, and to categorize.

The sensorial area has early math and early writing activities. It also provides opportunities to learn about the colours and shapes that surround us. It’s a stepping off point for so many interesting activities!

Language

This area of the classroom ensures that the acquisition of language is a painless and exciting proposition. We have the opportunity to enjoy the look of pride and delight as your children discover that they can actually read! It is a process that develops, step by step, ensuring a strong foundation on which to build. Your child will learn to identify sounds through the use of the ‘sandpaper letters’. This learning material is a typical example of Maria Montessori’s genius. The letters can be ‘seen’ and ‘felt’, and the teacher makes the ‘sound’ of the letter. This allows the child to learn easily, regardless of whether his preferred learning style is visual, tactile or auditory. Once the sounds (phonics) are mastered, he can then string them together to form words. He’ll learn that ‘t’ is the sound at the beginning of ‘ten’. He’ll learn that ‘h’ is the sound at the beginning of ‘hat’. Once this skill is mastered, he’ll learn that when you put ‘t’ and ‘h’ together you get the ‘th’ sound. Step by step, he’ll move through the phonograms to a place where reading is a pleasure and writing is easy. In the meantime, his confidence is growing and his brain is developing at a rapid pace. Learning at this stage of life can be effortless.

Students in the casa program participate in regular French classes 3-5 days per week. Young children pick up a second language with little effort. With our music, drama and game based program children enjoy the process too!

Mathematics

We know how difficult it is for parents to understand how washing dishes can be important. The math area, on the other hand, is something that parents find extremely easy to understand. We allow the children to move from the concrete to the abstract. Concrete materials are so easy to understand on every level. The beads are right there, in front of you. Ten units make a ‘ten’, ten ‘tens’ make a ‘hundred’, ten ‘hundreds’ make a ‘thousand’, and in the elementary classroom, hundred ‘ten thousands’ make a ‘million’. What could be more clear?

When a Montessori trained child hears the number 10,623, he visualizes 10 thousand cubes, 6 hundred squares, 2 tens and 3 units. It makes sense to him. That’s why Montessori children can work so effectively in math. They don’t just learn by rote. They actually understand what they are doing.

At this point, I think it’s important to point out the difference between rote learning and the Montessori approach. Rote learning teaches a child the answer. They memorize that five multiplied by five equals twenty-five. They don’t necessarily understand the ‘why’ or the ‘how’. When given a new question to work out, a child who has learned by memorization probably won’t have the tools to come up with the correct answer. A Montessori child does. He can extrapolate. He can find the answer. It makes sense to him.

As the children work with the various addition materials, they learn time and again that when you put 8 beads together with 6 beads you will always arrive at a total of 14 beads. It doesn’t matter whether you use the individual beads, the bead stairs, the addition strip boards or the stamp game. The answer is always the same. Eventually, it just becomes something they ‘know’. There is less of a requirement for tedious memorization. It just becomes part of the child’s knowledge. How wonderful is that!

Art and Culture

Learning math and language is so very important in today’s fast paced and competitive world. The beauty of a Montessori approach is that, not only does your child have the opportunity to make incredible progress academically, but she also has the chance to learn about the natural world around her, about animals and plants, land forms and other countries. Why don’t polar bears live in Africa? Which countries are on the equator? Where is North America?

In learning about the world, your child begins to understand where she fits in. Her sense of what is important in life will begin to develop. She will start to gain compassion and a deeper understanding of the world around her. We have so much to be thankful for and so much to appreciate.

We encourage our students to draw, colour, do crafts and paint.  They often have the opportunity to be creative and use their imaginations. 

Inquire Now

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