What a January the Woods has had! Between the snow and the rain, we haven't had much time to play outside in extended care. But that hasn't stopped us from moving our bodies!
Our mixed-age classroom provides a family-like grouping where learning can take place naturally.
More experienced children share what they have learned while reinforcing their own learning. Each class operates on the principle of freedom within limits based on core Montessori beliefs: respect for each other, the work, and for the environment. Children are free to work at their own pace with materials they have chosen, either alone or with others. The teacher relies on his or her observations of the children to determine which new activities and materials s/he may introduce to an individual child or to a small or large group. The aim is to encourage active, self-directed learning and small group collaboration within the classroom.
Art education for Kindergarten includes learning about, talking about, and producing works of art. The elements of design—line, shape, and color--and the awareness of the power of artistic expression to communicate thoughts, feelings, and experiences through art are introduced. Using two-dimensional processes allows students to use many kinds of tools and media—paint, pens, pencils, markers, cray pas--and a variety of paper to explore ideas, texture, and space. They can also experiment with color and color mixing. Using three-dimensional processes allows students to experiment with construction and to use clay to experiment with additive and subtractive concepts. Students also learn about famous artists, their style, and their work. Practice with fine motor control, body awareness, gross motor coordination, and art vocabulary are integrated into the program.
In the guidance program, Montessori children have lessons in a variety of areas including identifying feelings, maintaining friendships, solving problems, and dealing with tattling, teasing, bullying, and bossiness. Media literacy and nutrition are also discussed. Social skills are strengthened in these small weekly playgroups where sharing, fairness, and communication are emphasized.
Literature appreciation and life-long love of reading are the main emphases on library time for Montessori students. Weekly story time helps develop listening skills and a love of both fiction and non-fiction books. Kindergarteners learn library etiquette, the proper care and handling of books, and the works of many authors and illustrators. Students are encouraged to borrow books each week.
Students learn a variety of songs in their classrooms - fun and seasonal songs, movement, and dance songs as well as songs relating to classroom themes. Each class also has a set of rhythm sticks and instruments. Both half and full-day students perform on stage at the Montessori Program at the end of the year.
First and second level students begin their music studies by developing a large repertoire of simple songs and song-games that reinforce classroom themes. In music class students sing, move, dance, and play rhythm instruments and xylophones as they learn traditional children’s songs from the United States and other parts of the world. Classes focus on joyful celebration of music, vocal expression, tuneful singing, and steady beat.
In addition, Kindergarteners learn to identify and demonstrate the following musical concepts: fast/slow, loud/soft, high/low, short/long, same/different, and smooth/jerky. They also learn to improvise texts and motions to known songs. The Kindergarteners join the Lower School to perform at the Annual Christmas Concert.
The Montessori physical education curriculum is a balance of movement concepts, motor skills, and character development designed to enhance the cognitive, affective, and physical development of each child. Emphasis is placed on having the children feel comfortable and competent in any physical environment or activity (scooters, hula hoops, parachutes, and all types and sizes of balls). In addition to the introduction of motor skills, safety, and cooperation skills are integrated into each lesson. Children develop sportsmanship and teamwork as well as a sense of healthy competition and fair play.
Students are introduced to earth science, the animal kingdom, and the human body. They also explore seasonal changes, magnetism, and properties of water, air, and light through observation as well as hands-on activities and experiments.
The Montessori philosophy stresses the awareness and appreciation for the many cultures present in our world. Songs, customs, and artifacts from other countries increase children’s understanding of other cultures. World geography is introduced through puzzle maps, which encourages children to see the world as larger than the Washington, D.C. area. As each continent is studied, the child explores new people and places as well as the accompanying vocabulary words, images, foods, clothing, art, and land forms.
After introductory experiences in both French and Spanish, Kindergarteners begin to develop oral proficiency in basic French or Spanish vocabulary. Using songs, games, and coloring to reinforce their world language skills, students are provided with opportunities to follow directions and connect pictures with words. These activities teach and reinforce pronunciation, structures, and vocabulary – colors, numbers, clothing, parts of the body, family, weather, holidays, seasons, and animals.