The Prepared Environment
Casa de Bambini ( Casa) or Children's House
The Casa de Bambini or Children’s House program is directed towards children who are two and a half to six years of age. The Casa classroom's materials are purposefully organized into five main areas. Children are given lessons within each area of the environment in order to establish a foundation for life skills and academics. It is not the end result of each of the exercises that is important, but rather the process itself.
The Practical Life experiences include exercises in the care of the environment, the care of self, lessons in grace, courtesy and movement. Not only do they respond to the child’s need for adaptation and their need to become independent, but also the materials allow for the development of coordination of movement, concentration, logical thought and orderly work habits.
Dr. Montessori designed the sensorial materials to help children form clear classifications and impressions of dimension, texture, colour, taste, smell and sound. The sensorial materials help develop and refine their power of sensory perceptions and help them order and classify the sensorial impressions entering their mind.
Language is developed in many ways. Children are encouraged to express themselves in small and large discussion groups. Reading is taught phonetically. Children in a Montessori classroom begin reading when they are ready and they proceed at their own pace. At Northumberland Montessori School cursive writing is introduced at the Casa level.
The world of mathematics is introduced on a sensorial basis. Number symbols and association of symbol and quantity are the first mathematical concepts introduced through work with the sandpaper numerals, spindles and number rods. There are concrete materials (hands-on materials) for understanding the operations of addition, multiplication, subtraction and division. Later, other exercises with additional material progressively lead child to work in the abstract.
The cultural area introduces Botany, Zoology, Geography, Science, History, Music and Art.
Physical activity is a daily experience
Elementary Classroom (Ages 6 - 14 Years)
The Elementary environment builds on the pre-primary experience from the Casa classroom. The philosophies of Montessori continue to apply to the older student taking into consideration the new stage of the child’s social, academic, intellectual and physical development.
The Elementary curriculum includes Arts, Sciences, Geography, History, Language and Arithmetic. The lessons are presented in a manner which entices the imagination of the Elementary child and encourages the child to continue learning independently. The use of materials visually assists the student until they are ready to comprehend the academic component abstractly.
Trained Montessori teachers integrate the teaching of all subjects. The units are not isolated, as every aspect in our world is somehow connected to each academic area. Within the Elementary classroom there is an emphasis on open ended research, encouraging the child to utilize the sources that are readily available in the classroom, through the use of books and other materials.
The lessons in the Elementary classroom are narrative and incorporate the use of time lines, picture cards and other visual aids which assist in understanding the principles of Zoology, Botany, Anthropology, Geography, Geology and History. These lessons disclose information about the origins of the Earth, of life, of human communities in both past and modern history. These lessons are presented with the context of the interrelatedness of life. The correct use of terminology exposes the child to accurate organized information which reflects the child’s intelligence and interests.
The Arithmetic curriculum is presented with hands on materials. Each piece of material focuses on a particular mathematical concept which assists the student in comprehending the Arithmetic, Geometric and Algebraic concepts.
The term "Going Out" is used at the Elementary level. Going out refers to the students leaving the classroom environment and going on field trips. These outings coincide with the students' academic interests, as well as encourage the children to use the resources that are available within their community.
Students who continue their education at the Elementary level are self-confident and have a positive attitude toward school. When a child leaves the Montessori environment they adapt well to their new educational setting. They love learning, enjoy challenges and like school. If a child leaves the Montessori environment with these foundations, then the goals of the Montessori school have been successful.
"Montessori is an educational experience that lasts a lifetime."