Children ages 3 - 6*
St. Francis Montessori offers individualized learning for children 3 through 6 years old in a Montessori-prepared environment. The environment is rich in choices, experiences, and opportunities for self-discovery. Led by an Association Montessori Internationale trained guide, children are free to learn and absorb at their own pace in this stimulating, nurturing environment.
The Primary program is prepared to help children cultivate their intrinsic desire to learn. We encourage learning through exploration on the child’s own terms.
*Children in this program are self-sufficient in their toileting skills.
THE PREPARED ENVIRONMENT:
The Work of the Child in Five Areas
The child begins with the work in the practical life area of the Casa, which provides exercises in care of one’s self and one’s environment, such as buttoning, tying laces, sweeping, preparing snacks, and pouring. These exercises are of infinitely greater value than the simple skill they imbue: most importantly, they invite the child to work with focus and concentration and discipline of movement, which lay the foundations for all future learning.
The sensorial area refines each of the senses with materials such as the color tablets and pink tower, sound boxes and bells, touch boards and sorting trays.
Young children are at a sensitive period to distinguish nuances in the senses, and these materials in the environment allow them to hone their senses accordingly.
In the language area the children explore and learn their letters and sounds, reading and writing. In the Montessori environment, the language materials exist always in the context of communication, i.e. reading and writing is understood as a medium of communication between two people. At this point, the child and the Guide create messages for each other in the exercise of reading and writing. Children then progress to reading books, word-study, and grammar, leading to total reading.
The Montessori math works take abstract math concepts and illustrate them with a concrete material that the young child can experience through the work of the hands. In this way, the very young child in the Primary environment can gain experience with complex math concepts like division, not usually taught until much later. Children are introduced early to the decimal system and place value because it is the foundation of understanding all numbers.
The cultural materials expose the child to music, art, geography, science, and foreign language. There are opportunities for art and music appreciation, hands on experiences with botany and zoology, and globes and map puzzles that are often some of the most popular materials in the environment.
St. Francis has plans for a natural playground that involves flower and fruit and vegetable gardening, rock gardens, and much more.
Children ages 6 - 12
The St. Francis Montessori Elementary Casa provides an integrated curriculum for the 6-12 year old child, organized as a “cosmic education” of the child’s place in the universe: who they are, where they are, what has gone before to shape the present, the connectedness of all things in nature, events in history, and their contributions in the development of the world as they will come to know it. Children ages 6 through 9 are in Lower Elementary, and children ages 9 through 12 are in Upper Elementary.
All content areas interconnect with each other, reinforcing mastery and fluency of language and math skills in the course of presenting the overarching “cosmic education.”
THE COSMIC EDUCATION:
The Work of the Child in Five Areas
The Language curriculum follows a definite order beginning with concrete materials, gradually moving towards the ultimate goal of abstraction.
It is divided into different areas of study: word study, capitalization /punctuation, grammar, dictionary usage, sentence analysis and spelling. In each category, the child is presented lessons in a small group and is then given the opportunity to explore and discover independently.
Reading and Writing
Children are submerged in reading on a daily basis through independent study as well as group settings.
Reading comprehension and writing is nurtured through creative writing, poetry, drama, composition, and research in the cultural subjects.
The Math curriculum follows a sequential order in a number of different areas of study.
The children receive lessons in mathematical operations and basic facts of addition, multiplication, subtraction and division, fractions, time, money, measurement, and geometry.
Each concept is introduced using concrete materials. Children gradually work towards abstraction.
Cultural lessons are presented in the areas of Zoology, Botany, Life Sciences, Earth Science, Astronomy, Geography, Social Studies and History.
Lessons encourage higher-level thinking skills and spark the child’s inner desire to research and discover. Concepts are explored in a tangible, hands-on approach through experiments, activities, and research.
Practical Life assumes a natural rhythm in everyday life in the prepared environment, caring for the space in which they live and learn and plants and animals indoors and outdoors.