Dr. Montessori demonstrated that if children have access to concrete mathematical materials in their early years, they can easily and joyfully assimilate many facts and skills of arithmetic. Montessori designed materials to represent all types of quantities, after she observed that children who become interested in counting like to touch or move the items as they enumerate them. By combining these materials, separating, sharing, counting, and comparing, children can demonstrate to themselves the basic operations of mathematics.
The children's early experiences with these materials form a solid foundation that supports the understanding of abstract mathematical concepts introduced in the elementary years.
The Montessori classroom provides rich opportunities to develop and enhance oral language, vocabulary enrichment and language appreciation. The individual presentation of language materials in a Montessori environment allows the teacher to take advantage of each child's greatest periods of interest.
Children learn the phonetic sounds of letters before they learn the alphabetical names in a sequence. The phonetic sounds are given first because these are the sounds children hear in spoken words and the most easily lead the child to reading. Phoneme awareness is practiced with "I Spy" games and other activities the children enjoy. The children then become aware of the symbols that represent the phonetic sounds when the teacher introduces them with activities such as Sandpaper Letters.
The individual presentation of language materials in a Montessori environment allows the teacher to take advantage of each child's greatest periods of interest. Writing, or the construction of words with the "moveable alphabet," precedes reading because the decoding of words follows phoneme awareness as the first step to reading. The child begins by creating simple 3-letter phonetic words and moves on to reading phonetic words.
Gradually the children learn irregular words ("puzzle words") and words with two and three syllables by performing many reading exercises that offer the child variety rather than monotonous repetition. Proceeding at their own pace, children are encouraged to read about things that interest them. Beginning grammar is then presented through games and activities.
The child's interest in reading is cultivated as the most important key to his/her future learning. Children are encouraged to explore books for answers to their own questions, whether they are about frogs, rockets, stars, or dinosaurs.
Additional materials are available for children to pursue their interests in such topics as geography, geometry, science and nature, art, music, and history. Large motor activities, group discussions, stories, and songs are also part of the Montessori Children's House day.
The Montessori classrooms are taught by Montessori-trained teachers who provide fundamental subject information and guidance to allow students to embark on their own exploration and discovery of subjects of interest. To help in these endeavors, St. John the Baptist also provides additional opportunities in several curriculum areas.
Casa children experience art through exploration of the art shelves in their classroom environments. When children are of kindergarten age they explore art materials like clay, paint and drawing, with lessons that focus on the art elements of color, line, shape, texture and space.
For children, music is an innate joy that offers a unique way for them to experience the world around them. It reaches the perceptual, intellectual, cultural, emotional and spiritual dimensions of their lives. It promotes creativity, thinking and joy. The Music Curriculum at St. John’s provides a complete, balanced and sequential music education. We strive to develop musically literate children who have an appreciation for beauty and the arts through the love and enjoyment of music. We hope to instill a life-long desire to seek out music in our students' lives.
Children's House students continue to explore many skills with increased expectation for students participation, increased skill sets, and a deeper level of musical understanding.