elementary-montessori-school

Language

The Language area develops reading skills and reading comprehension strategies. Children at the Elementary level are reading every day. This includes being read to, reading out loud, and reading to oneself. The books chosen should be a little above what one believes to be the comprehension level of the child. Children are encouraged to explore myth, fantasy and fairy tales. Allegory, legend, adventure, and heroic tales are all genres that appeal to the child of this age group. The curriculum includes literature discussion groups (”˜book club’), vocabulary development and the study of grammar and spelling. Grammar and syntax are explored, function of words and parts of speech are explored in great detail, emphasizing each grammar rule and part of speech in isolation so that its function stands out to the child. Writing skills are developed through the teaching and use of the writing process. All areas of writing are addressed and developed, including: expository, narrative, persuasive and creative writing, letter writing, research, scientific reporting, fantasy, and poetry. Spoken language is also a huge focus in the classroom as we aim to help the children enrich their vocabulary, articulate themselves, and verbally express their ideas with confidence and enthusiasm. Public Speaking and presentations of their projects to their peer group are excellent ways to gain experience and confidence in expressing oneself. The History of Language is explored in one of our Great Lessons entitled “The Story of Communication in Signs” and extends the children’s exploration into other alphabets and forms of other communication throughout time and across the world. It also includes the study of etymology, as it is one of the major tools of looking back in time to how language has developed.

Mathematics

The History of Mathematics is explored as one of our Great Lessons entitled “The Story of Numbers” and the evolution of numerals through different civilizations. Appealing to the child’s reasoning mind, the history of mathematics is the starting point from which all further work stems. Children continue to enjoy exploring math and geometry using hands-on materials in the Elementary class. Each new process is presented with materials so that the children proceed from sensorial experience to abstraction in a series of steps carefully constructed so that they are able to make their own discoveries.

The study of Math focuses on furthering their strong foundation of concepts, properties and numeration and extends into work on the four operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Children study fractions, decimals, squaring, cubing, the order of operations, the powers of numbers, positive and negative integers and other base systems. Word problems are an integral part of the Math program. Didactic materials continue to be used in the teaching of mathematical concepts. These promote a deep understanding of each idea so that students are well prepared to think and reason. Geometry is also explored in great detail in the math studies. Children learn all about points, lines, planes, shapes and solid figures. Work in geometry makes use of the guided discovery approach so that the children can discover the relationships, theorems and formulae themselves. Research shows that information gained in this manner seems to be more readily retained in the long-term memory than information that is given to children that they then memorize.

When children are given this solid foundation in Math and are able to see the relationship of arithmetic, geometry and algebra and in the real world, it makes it easier for them in later years to spend long periods of time working abstractly on paper.

Culture

Cultural studies includes the disciplines of Science, Geography and History. Science topics present the study of our earth, air, water, the development of life and an introduction to botany, biology, chemistry, physics and zoology. The geography curriculum includes an in-depth study of each continent, its countries, regions, physical geography, language, culture, economy, government and history. The area of history includes a broad study of the history of man on earth with a concentration on each major human civilization.

Work Habits

Time management, organization, and setting reasonable, responsible goals are a priority at this level. It is a time when children cross the bridge between using hands-on, manipulative materials and the abstract understanding of concepts. Work on group projects, use of community resources (such as libraries and museums) and an expansion in field studies become important new elements in our Elementary curriculum. Our students move through the major curricular themes from concrete presentations towards greater depth, detail, and abstract understanding. With mixed age groupings, our children engage in individualized and small group instruction and cooperative learning opportunities. As well, these groupings provide the opportunity for the older students to act as role models for the younger students and the younger ones function as a form of review for the older students.

Technology

Areas of special work include computer instruction in keyboarding, word processing, and the responsible use of the Internet as a research tool, mode of communication and for the expression and sharing of ideas. Children may use the computer to create things such as a class blog or multi-media based projects and art, to research and organize outings and excursions, to reach out to children in other communities for the purpose of connecting and learning about one another or to raise awareness of a social cause that may be important or meaningful to them.

The Arts

The Arts are integrated into the student’s classroom work as well as offered by teachers as separate lessons. Instruction includes exposure to the principles of drawing, painting, sculpture, clay work, as well as the study of particular artists and art history. Our students participate in various workshops, which expose them to a variety of interests in areas such as fashion design, sewing, pottery, mime and architecture. Music, Drama, Visual Arts, Theatre and Dance are all explored as part of our rich arts curriculum. Children take part in visiting gallery exhibits, film festivals, plays and musical performances. Our city of Toronto has a vibrant arts community, which offers an endless array of opportunities for our students to explore, pursue and develop an appreciation for the arts.

Physical Education

Physical activity is an extremely important part of each child’s daily experience at Forest Hill Montessori School. Our physical education curriculum is planned in 5 to 6 week segments and includes on and off-site programming such as yoga, track and field, skating, skiing, swimming, karate, rock climbing, snow shoeing, soccer and tennis. Our students make use of the beautiful parks, pools, rinks and community centres within walking distance of our school to supplement and enrich their daily physical education experience.  FHMS students also enjoy participating in meets, tournaments and games with other private schools in the city of Toronto.

Going Out

The environment of the Elementary class is not confined to the school building. One of the important activities of the Elementary age is to research a variety of topics. The resources available for their research in the classroom are deliberately restricted so that the students will have to ”˜go out’ of their classroom and the school in order to find more.

This ”˜Going Out’ is the Montessori term for off-campus excursions taken by small groups of children to visit museums, galleries, stores and other businesses, libraries, non-profit organizations, places of worship, zoos, historical sites and other places where subject-matter experts can be found or hands-on experiences can be had.

A ”˜Going Out’ is initiated, planned, organized and carried out by the students themselves as a spontaneous extension of studies or projects they are pursuing in the classroom. Dr. Montessori was adamant about the importance of developing the children’s intellectual knowledge, their real world social skills and self-reliance all at the same time by means of these excursions into the larger world outside the school.

Chaperones for ”˜Going Out’ are chosen and contacted by the children from a list of parents who are specially trained to closely monitor and guard the children’s physical and emotional safety without usurping responsibilities and roles that are properly the children’s to learn and practice.

Grades and Assessment

Grades, like other external rewards, have little lasting effect on a child’s efforts or achievements. The Montessori approach nurtures the motivation that comes from within, kindling the child’s natural desire to learn.

A self-motivated learner also learns to be self-sufficient, without needing reinforcement from outside. In the classroom, of course, the teacher is always available to provide students with guidance and support.  Montessori teachers closely observe each student’s progress and readiness to advance to new lessons. Teachers hold family conferences twice a year as well as informal conferences several times throughout the year, so parents may see their child’s work and hear the teacher’s assessment – and perhaps even their child’s self-assessment. Progress Reports are sent home twice per year, which will give parents a written record of their child’s assessment. Our teachers pay close attention to where their student’s academic skills range in comparison to the grade level expectations of the Provincial curriculum, so that any concerns, weaknesses and areas of struggle can be identified and addressed.

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