During Montessori work time the children are engaged in activities that are divided into five main areas.
Practical Life: Training for Independence
The Practical Life part of our preschool classrooms is aimed explicitly at helping children become independent, so that they neither need nor are constantly soliciting the help of adults. As Dr. Montessori put it: “We must help them to learn how to . . . dress and undress, to wash themselves, to express their needs in a way that is clearly understood, and to attempt to satisfy their desires through their own efforts. All this is part of an education for independence.”
The materials are designed—and our teachers are trained—to help the child learn how to break down the required actions, to perform them step-by-step, and to do them repeatedly. As he systematically acquires skills for self-care (dressing, tying shoes, washing hands) and care of his environment (washing tables, preparing food, watering plants), the child gains independence from adult help. At an age during which he might otherwise throw tantrums over wanting to “do it all by myself,” but not be able to accomplish the desired task, he learns to do it.
Sensorial: Developing Active Minds, Concentration Skills and Powers of Observation
The main purpose of the Sensorial Area is to enable the child to acquire mental skills and habits that enable her to learn readily and joyfully for the rest of her life.
Dr. Montessori recognized that the child’s reasoning mind needs specific training and preparation, and that the first step is to help the child develop the habit of focusing and concentrating for sustained periods of time. Through years of observation, she came to see that the only way to help a child acquire the capacity to sustain concentration is to provide him with fascinating materials, materials which would draw his natural interest. It is in the act of losing himself in the task—manipulating the materials with his hands to achieve a specific cognitive purpose—that a child develops the mental stamina and skill involved in concentrating over time.
The Montessori Sensorial Exercises are designed to build on this insight. They enable the preschool child to develop the capacity to be active-minded, to sustain concentration over long periods of time, and to exercise sharp powers of observation. In a word, the Sensorial Exercises provide him with a firm cognitive foundation for his journey of becoming a careful observer and an independent, conceptual thinker.
Language: Learning Handwriting and Reading
For the preschool child, building her vocabulary and learning to handwrite and to read are arguably the most important academic skills to acquire. The broader her vocabulary, the easier reading comprehension will be for the child down the road – and 3-6 year olds learn even difficult scientific terms with ease. Thus, developing our student’s vocabulary is an important part of our primary classrooms.
Today in America, most educators believe that reading and handwriting are best taught to six or seven year olds, in Kindergarten and first grade – and most preschools therefore work on “reading readiness”, not actual reading and writing. In contrast, our students actually learn to read and write – a typical Seneca Village Kindergarten student will be able to read real books (not just sound out phonetic 3-letter-words), and pen full sentences in cursive handwriting (not just form a few print capital letters or trace his name.)
We teach reading and writing early – because, as Dr. Montessori has shown, 3 ½ to 5 ½ years are the optimal ages to learn these skills. Children at that age are interested in the sensations of language – its sounds, the movement the hand makes when writing a letter, the grip of the hand on the pencil – and they delight in the repetition necessary to perfect these skills. By carefully structuring the language program for our preschool students around their natural interests and abilities, we enable our students to joyfully learn to read and write long before they enter elementary school – and spare them the tedious effort and frustration that too many kids experience when learning these critical skills in a traditional elementary school setting.
Mathematics: Early Numeracy through Manipulation of Concrete Materials
A 3 ½ or 4-year old child is fascinated with manipulating things, with patterns, and with small objects. He enjoys repeating activities, and exploring concrete items with his hands. Our Montessori math program builds upon this developmental phase: we introduce preschool children to the fascinating world of numbers through enjoyable activities, which are carefully designed to impart mathematical knowledge to our students.
By starting early, and drawing on the child’s natural interests, we enable our students to gain a head start in numeracy – and, more importantly, a confidence in their own ability to do math, and to do it well. Instead of the math phobias that many children acquire in elementary school, where arithmetic operations are introduced as abstract, mechanistic operations to be memorized even if not understood, our 6-year-old students master the basics of arithmetic using concrete materials, and they therefore acquire a grounded understanding of the meaning of these operations. When they leave Seneca Village Montessori School, our students have a double advantage: they have learned many mathematical concepts and math facts typically only taught in 2nd or 3rd grade, before they even enter elementary school – and they have learned to enjoy math.
Cultural: Understanding and Enjoying the Wondrous World We Live In
At Seneca Village, we help our students acquire the essential knowledge, thinking skills, and strength of character required to flourish as joyous children today, and as successful adults tomorrow. We want to equip them with a wealth of knowledge that enables them to understand and delight in both the wondrous world around them, and their personal identity within.
The Cultural Subjects in our Montessori preschool classrooms provide our students with a first exposure to the many areas of knowledge they will encounter later on – and enable them to acquire an early interest in learning about the world, its natural wonders, its people, history and culture, its music and art.
**African Centered materials will be used in these five areas.**
Full Day Session
Half Day Sessions
7:30 - 8:00 Morning drop off
8:00- 8:30 Breakfast
8:30 - 8:50 Harambee Circle (songs & affirmations)
8:50 - 9:20 African Heritage Lesson
9:20 - 10:30 Montessori Work Time (snacks served)
10:30 -10:50 Play time (indoor or outdoor)
10:50- 11:00 Morning Half Day Dismissal
11:00- 11:30 Afternoon drop off
11:30 -12:00 Lunch
12:00 - 12:20 Harambee Circle (songs & affirmations)
12:20 -12:50 African Heritage Lesson
12:50 - 2:00 Montessori Work Time (snacks served)
2:00 - 2:20 Play time (indoor or outdoor)
2:20 - 2:30 Afternoon Half Day Dismissal
A Typical Day at Seneca Village
"Where Cultural Knowledge & Academic Excellence Meet"
7:30 - 8:00 Morning drop off
8:00 - 8:30 Breakfast
8:30 - 8:50 Harambee Circle (morning song, affirmations)
8:50 - 9:30 African Heritage Lesson
9:30 - 11:00 Montessori Work Time (snacks served)
11:00 -12:00 Play time (indoor or outdoor)
12:00 -12:15 Wash and prepare for lunch
12:15 - 12:45 Lunch
12:45 -1:00 Clean up & Bathroom breaks
1:00 - 1:45 Rest/Quiet time
1:45 - 2:20 Montessori Work Time
2:20 - 2:30 End of day pick up/ Children departing
2:40 - 6:00 After School