History is introduced indirectly through books and by learning the daily schedule.
Children are very much in the present moment at this age and flourish with predictable schedules and routines.
For the young child, the focus is on developing awareness and understanding of the concept of the “passing of time.”
• Introduction to calendar • Awareness of seasonal changes
• Beginning of clock study: o’clock, half-past, quarter till, quarter past
• Introduction to the three fundamental tenses: past/present/future
• Experience of personal history via birthday celebrations/ personal timelines
While technology was not a part of Dr. Montessori’s curriculum when it was developed over 100 years ago, today it has become an important tool in the lives of our students today. Our goal is to educate children so that they reach their inherent potential and prepare our students for life; therefore, it is incumbent upon us to review technology as a tool in the Montessori classroom.
Students at the 0-3 and 3-6 levels are developing skills critical to healthy brain function, such as eye-hand coordination, motor planning, memory, and understanding the nuances of non-verbal cues. All of these skills are best mastered through real and concrete learning experiences. In addition, the young child learns best when all senses are engaged in learning and experiences are both real and reciprocal in nature. For these reasons, use of technology is limited in the classroom.
Science is introduced indirectly at this level through activities such as cooking, books, picture cards, exploring living/non-living, magnetic works, and weather.
The goals of the science curriculum are to offer concrete exploration of the physical and life sciences to further classify the child’s understanding of his world.
PHYSICAL SCIENCE LESSONS INCLUDE
LIFE SCIENCE LESSONS/ZOOLOGY
• Scientific classification:
Living/non-living, plant/animal, vertebrate/invertebrate
Introduction to invertebrates and the animal kingdom: mammal, reptile, amphibian, fish, bird
Observation and care of classroom pets
Naming and experiences with leaf shapes, plants, trees, and flowers.
Observations and care of classroom plants.
The solar system.
Geography is introduced indirectly at this level through activities such as exploring a globe ball, singing cultural songs, reading books, and making cultural snacks or celebrating cultural traditions of classmates.
The goal of the geography curriculum at this level is to bring an awareness to children of the physical features of the earth, through presentations of land/water formations and concrete exploration of maps. Also, the curriculum brings an awareness of other cultures around the world through pictures, objects, and stories.
• Study of land and water forms, such as lakes, islands, peninsulas, gulfs, isthmus’, and straits
EXPLORATION OF GLOBES, MAPS, AND FLAGS
• Naming and distinguishing shapes and placement of continents, countries, states, and oceans
• Making of maps and books of flags to encourage repetition and familiarization with the geography materials
• Children/families of the classroom are encouraged to share their own cultural stories and/or experiences with their classmates
Connections between physical and cultural geography are made through pictures, objects, and stories of other people, places, products, plants, animals, homes, clothing, transportation, arts, and crafts
Science, Art and Music are introduced at this level in stimulating and creative ways, both in small groups with music and individual lessons with art. The goals of the art and music curriculum foster self expression, concentration, development of gross/fine motor skills, and refinement of the senses.
Music activities include:
• Singing songs
• Listening to music
• Exploration with musical instruments
Art exercises include:
• Painting: watercolor (fine motor) and easel (large motor) • Drawing
. Clay work
Art and Music appreciation continues at the 3-6 level through both creative opportunities and through formal lessons. Music is offered through singing songs, listening to a variety of music, and more formal lessons are introduced through the bells and other rhythm instruments. The art materials offered allow students to explore and work at their own pace, using a variety of media to stimulate choice and innovation.
Music activities include:
• Bells: use of the Montessori bells in the classroom environment for tone matching and composition.
• Rhythm: introduction to beat of music through instruments and/or composed music; children work with rhythm sticks or simple instruments.
Art exercises include:
EXPLORING AND CREATING
• Exploration and creative expression are fostered through various media available in the classroom: coloring, drawing, painting at an easel, watercolor painting, clay/sculpture, collage, sewing, and weaving.
• Children are encouraged to look at their own work and appreciate the art works of known artists as well.
Students are introduced to sustainable practices through their daily routines in the classroom environment, instilling early stewardship to the care of our earth.
• Students recycle materials such as paper and plastic.
• Students see the cycle of organic material from consumption to seeds to plants and back again to food.
• Through snack time, students learn about compostable materials and compost foods.
Consistent observing and tending to plants’ needs for watering are part of the children’s daily experiences.
Photographs of combustible materials and of recyclables are new materials for the toddler program.
Laminated picture cards and vocabulary cards are inserted in fabric sleeves, and directors can use them to connect with the actual use of recyclables in the classroom and what the students can put into their compost buckets after snack and lunches.
Teachers plant seeds with the students and utilize the school’s compost for those plantings.
Students adhere to sustainable practices in the everyday life of the classroom, broadening their awareness and sense of responsibility and relationship to the earth. The ultimate goal is for students to become active stewards of the earth and to gain a greater understanding and appreciation for our relationship to the larger ecological environment.
• Maintaining a vermi culture box /worm bin
• Contributing snack and lunch refuse to compost bins
• Conservation of water and raw materials
• Bird feeders
. Consistent observing and tending to plants needs for watering are part of the students’ daily experiences.
. Sustainable landscaping
. No-Waste Lunch Program
. Green Architecture and Facility Management
• Vegetable seeds are planted and grown for use during the school year.
• Bulbs planted by the children at school are used for enjoyment and education when harvested.
Children at this age need many opportunities to learn how to move their bodies and work towards refinement of large muscle control and small muscle control, with the goal of attaining more coordinated movements, independence, and confidence.
LARGE MOVEMENT EXERCISES
. Walking across a balance beam
. Carrying heavy objects
• Walking carefully around the classroom and work spaces
FINE MOTOR MOVEMENTS
• Various activities exercising pincer grasp
• Squeezing works exercising whole hand
• Daily, toddler children may visit this program for large motor, and circuit exercises at our tree house.
At the 3-6 level, children continue to be given numerous opportunities for movement throughout the day. They are given the experiences to develop and refine their movements in the classroom and also through our Developmental Gym program on a daily basis.
Weekly, third year children attend a Brain Dance class to foster mind-body exercises. Through these various experiences, children’s self-image, personal, and social development are fostered. Also, children are building an awareness of their body in space through parallel play and group play, building self-control to regulate their behavior appropriately for success in community life: taking turns, following directions, sharing, listening, and safety of self and others.
CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES TO REFINE CONTROL OF MOVEMENT
• “The line” in the classroom allows children to practice control of various movements such as: hopping, balancing, galloping, marching/walking in different directions, starting/stopping on command.
• In small or large group gatherings, children may explore rhythm in relation to physical education through clapping and moving to a specific beat.
• Children develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills through various curricular areas in the classroom.
DEVELOPMENTAL GYM ACTIVITIES TO REFINE CONTROL OF MOVEMENT
• Through a circuit of activities, children are refining hand-eye coordination and large motor skills. Such exercises include: stretching, ball work (throwing, catching, tossing, kicking), and cross-lateral movement exercises.
• Third year students take part once a week in a 45-minute class of dance and movement, focusing on cross-lateral coordination, motor refinement, and body control.
Diversity, in its most simple form, means difference. At WLMS, diversity includes race, ethnicity, religion, family composition, family traditions, ability, and socioeconomic status.
While we seek to respect all differences that community members find meaningful, we ultimately believe that our diversity at WLMS is possible because of a key similarity: shared values. All students of different religions, race, and ability experience equity in education because of a shared respect for learning and an environment in which ideas are freely exchanged.
At WLMS we seek to understand diversity through the eyes of a child. We offer each child "windows" and "mirrors.” Windows are those moments that allow us to understand and acknowledge the realities of others' experiences.
Working with each age group according to their developmental readiness, topics of diversity and anti-bias curriculum are introduced. Topics also arise spontaneously from the students’ own interactions and independent studies. Teachers build on these opportunities, supporting the children’s development of cross- cultural competence.
What is important about diversity is that it offers a way to affirm the self and a way to understand others. The following goals were developed by Louise Derman- Sparks in her book, Anti-Bias Curriculum. They are a starting point for the toddler and 3-6 classrooms.
GOALS OF ANTI-BIAS CURRICULUM
Each child will demonstrate awareness, confidence, family pride, and positive social identities.
Each child will express comfort and joy with human diversity; accurate language for human differences; and deep, caring human connections.
Each child will increasingly recognize unfairness, have language to describe unfairness, and understand that unfairness hurts.
Each child will demonstrate empowerment and the skills to act as an ally, with others or alone, against prejudice and/or discriminatory actions.
Such work for this age group can be formative in their growing identity as members of the wider society.
Parents often ask about music in the Montessori classroom.
As parents, what would you ideally want your children to be exposed to in music classes in their early years? You would probably want your child to learn some lovely songs and to sing enough that they learn to carry a tune. You might want them to receive a bit of ear training, because you’ve heard that this is the age when children either develop this skill or go through life unable to distinguish pitch. You would probably hope that they would be exposed to a variety of musical expressions and perhaps a bit of music history. You might even hope for an introduction to musical notation. It may surprise you to learn that we provide all of that and more in the Montessori classroom.
The operative term here is “in the classroom.” Rather than being confined to a music class for an hour once per week (about the most you can hope for in most schools, and increasingly hard to find these days), in Montessori these activities are included in the daily life of the class and respected at the same level as any other form of learning.
ONE of the materials used to teach music in the classroom is the Montessori Bells. The Bells consist of two series of bells ranging from middle to high “C.” One series is painted black or white, and correspond to the black and white keys of the piano. The other set, which we will call the “brown bells,” are unpainted with a natural wood finish.
These bells represent the diatonic scale of 8 notes (C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C). The children work with these bells extensively in a specific method which teaches them to match and grade the notes by ear alone. Could there be better “ear” training than this?
In Montessori we always provide experience first, before attaching language, and the Bells are no exception. Only after this rich matching and grading experience, we teach children the names of the notes and their position on the musical staff. The children begin to learn to write and read music, in a similarly natural manner to the way that they learned to write and read words.
But the Bells don’t begin to encompass all of the ways that children experience and learn about music as part of the daily life of the classroom. Singing is part of nearly every day, and increases in challenge and complexity as the children progress.
From their earliest days in a Montessori toddler class, we have also clapped rhythms together. We draw upon this preparation when the time comes for the presentation of the values of notes (whole, half and quarter notes, for example) and the ways in which those note values are written. From the beginning, we also train children in moving their bodies to different moods and rhythms of music in the group work called Walking on the Line. Listening to different types and styles of music is also part of their daily experience, and fits into both their classification work (the names of instruments, and composers, and styles of music) and their exploration of human history (how music has been expressed in different cultures at different times).
What’s most important about all of this, is the fact that it takes place in the classroom, not in a separate music class with a specialist. What does this communicate to the children? That musical expression is not the realm of a few gifted people, but a birthright common to all of us. With the right experiences, all children can sing and carry a tune, all children can train their ears, all children can learn to read and write music. In other words, all children can participate in one of the basic expressions of what it means to be human, in the language of music.
“Educating for Peace – The Essence of Montessori”
What is educating for Peace?
Can small children learn to resolve their conflicts with honesty and with words?
How do we build a community of respect and courtesy in a classroom?
Can we find a way to extend this sense of community and peace to the world outside the classroom?
“Peace, according to Montessori philosophy, does not mean weakness, and it does not mean the simple absence of war. It means inner harmony and strong individuality, a full participation in community life, responsiveness to the world, and stewardship of its resources. It means respect for human dignity and diversity, and due diligence in protecting and supporting the rights of all. It is to this definition of peace that we dedicate our most passionate efforts.” — Statement released by the American Montessori Society shortly after 9/11/2001
“If we are to have real peace, we must begin with the children.” - Mahatma Gandhi
We must lay the foundation for peace ourselves... “ We need to construct the social environment, a new world for the child and adolescent, so that their individual consciences may develop.” - Education and Peace Pages 72-84
These objectives are inherent in the Montessori philosophy of education. Dr. Maria Montessori recognised the spirit of love within all children and emphasised the need to educate children about themselves, their community, other cultures and the environment. This concept can be represented by the “Flower of Peace” model.
THE FRUITS OF THE PEACE CURRICULUM
By studying the relationship of body, mind, emotions and spirit, children develop a greater sense of self- confidence and well-being. Through these activities they develop a sense of peace within themselves. In the first three years of life, self-awareness is just beginning.
Montessori infant and toddler programs help the child to become more self-aware. Mirrors are placed around the classroom assisting the child in exploring who she is. There is an emphasis on beauty. The environment and materials are pleasant to see and touch. Soft music is often in the background providing a sense of security and peace. The environment is child safe. There are no barriers to exploration. During these years, the child takes the first steps towards independence and developing a sense of self.
In order to nurture peace, the early childhood environment provides children with opportunities to experience calmness, peace and joy. A peace shelf is set up that displays activities the children can choose. Each activity promotes a consciousness of calmness, caring and peace.
All children strive for independence. The adults in the Montessori classroom have a deep respect for children and encourage them to learn basic life skills. These elements are essential to developing a sense of self-confidence for a small child.
Within the classroom, children learn courtesy and respect for others. They learn to cooperate, take responsibility for their actions and resolve differences peacefully. Montessori classes are multi-age, usually encompassing three-year age spans – 0-3, 3-6. 6-9, 9-12, 12-15 and 15-18. This approach creates a community of learners where the older members learn to become leaders and nurturers of their younger classmates.
Toddlers are just beginning to become aware of other children. They begin to learn the concept of sharing and responsibility. With guidance, even toddlers can learn to resolve conflicts.
In early childhood classrooms, children learn that when they want an adult’s attention, they should touch the adult on the shoulder without interrupting. The adult acknowledges the touch and the child waits politely until the adult is ready to give this child her attention.
Early childhood students learn to use a peace flower to resolve conflicts.
Courtesy and patience is practiced at all levels in Montessori.
The peace rose - This is something concrete. It gives the child something to do with their hands which is important at this time and so giving a space where they can start talking about how they are feeling and know there is a system of taking turns – that it is not just going to be this kid that talks the whole time, I am going to get a chance to talk too.
We tell each other how we feel. We mostly do the same thing here. Then we give each other a hug. Does that make it better? Uh huh.
As children grow older they develop a sense of responsibility to the community outside the classroom. Community service becomes a significant part of the learning experience.
What are the effects of a civil war? How has the civil war affected Nigeria?
From an early age, the Montessori curriculum focuses on building an understanding of and compassion for other people. A respect for basic human rights is integrated into the study of diverse cultures.
The Montessori curriculum introduces world cultures in many ways. In early childhood classrooms, children create flags from all over the world, learning the names of many countries.
Puzzle maps and tracing of countries and continents give pre- school Montessori students a deep sensorial understanding of world geography.
Songs, projects and celebrations often focus on world cultures. Learning about other cultures gives children appreciation and respect for the unique differences and similarities of people of the world. Special celebrations-- that include guest speakers, shared folklore, and traditional foods provide culminating experiences for the cultural studies.
Through the many activities in a Montessori classroom, students learn how to be stewards of the environment. This is done by encouraging children to take care of the environment both inside and outside the classroom. Environmental science focuses on the connectedness of the earth’s elements and gives the students deep respect for all life.
Caring for the environment begins in the classroom. In the early years, children learn to wash tables, polish silver, sweep the floor, water and care for the plants. Children at this school have a composter that they delight in turning while learning about the chemical process of decomposition. They plant gardens outside and learn the botanical names of plants.
Through conscious implementation of peace education at all levels of development, each child’s spirit can flower and naturally emanate peaceful behaviour.
A calmness, a centeredness and a determination grows within each child allowing him or her to meet the challenges of adulthood, knowing that diverse peoples have much in common. The students develop a belief in, and a commitment to the potential for a peaceful world. For the individual and the community to flourish, activities in self, community, cultural and environmental awareness need to be consciously implemented in each of the major levels of development- infant/toddler, early childhood, elementary, adolescence and adult.
The foundation of peace education is a strong respect for basic human rights—which is symbolised by the lily pad.
Through conscious implementation of peace education at all levels of development, each child’s spirit can flower and naturally emanate peaceful behaviour. Just as the beautiful lotus flower gets its nutrients from the mud, the child gets its nutrients from a thoughtfully prepared environment.
Why We MUST Teach Peacemaking
Since my primary school days back in the 80s, where kids would gather around to watch a fight and corporal punishment was still a common occurrence, things have at least seemingly improved. Now-a-days there are ‘No Bullying’ signs in hallways, character development is sometimes being taught and corporal punishment, at least in Lagos state is “illegal” and yet stories that make it out of schools about bullying and suicide can be both sobering and a reality check.
There is enough violence from the international to local to personal level to justify the need for teaching peacemaking skills to each and every child. We need to make time for it, as it is vitally important in stopping violence.
However, peacemaking is not just about ending violence, it also speaks to a quality of life. It speaks to one’s core needs being met such as: security, contentment, nurturance, relational, health, nature, learning, self-confidence, exploration and ultimately, self realisation & fulfilment. What Montessori referred to as the the unfolding of the “spiritual embryo”.
Pragmatically, what might the goals of making ‘Peacemaking’ be as part of our school’s curriculum and community life?
For the students:
Students will learn, and practice each day, how to intentionally make good choices in how they care for (love) and respect themselves, others and the natural world so that they might proactively create a more peaceful community and world.
For the parents:
Parents will not only be kept informed of what peacemaking skills and concepts are being taught in the classroom, but will be actively taught this same material and encouraged to make it part of their family’s daily home life.
For the staff:
Staff will critically evaluate how conflicts are both avoided and resolved, how decisions are made in a just and dignified manner and how respecting individual integrity can be maintained while serving the needs of the greater community, with the ultimate goal of maintaining/forming a close and cohesive school community.
For the community:
Our school will stand before the greater community and enlighten it as to the need for peacemaking in education and provide actual peacemaking curriculums and resources.
“Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.” - Maria Montessori