Lower School (pre-school and kindergarten, ages 3 to 6)
Our approach to educating the preschool child through kindergarten is built upon Maria Montessori's principles to cultivate a level of independence, responsibility, respect and love of learning in the child. The curriculum at Brooksfield is unique in its approach to education because it blends various teaching techniques to enrich each child's school experience. Children in the Lower School can expect to have adventures in the following areas:
- Practical Life
- Language Arts
- Creative/Imaginative Play
Lower School Hours
9:00 a.m. - Noon
9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Overview of the Day
In the formative years, up to 6 years old, the foundation of each child's future is shaped. During the period from age 3 to 6, we strive to provide opportunities and experiences for the child to develop self-confidence, independent thinking skills, a love for learning and respect for oneself and others.
Each school day is carefully arranged by teachers to provide the children the freedom to explore and discover truths about themselves and the world. Lessons are given with enthusiasm to encourage and foster a sense of wonder and curiosity among students.
In an atmosphere of caring and sharing, each child is welcome to work independently or to choose companions to uncover some new element of knowledge. With this approach, one can observe children fully absorbed in individual and group activities in a single classroom. Often one will also observe an older student gently guiding a younger one to learn a new lesson or answering questions on related topics.
The practical life area of the classroom offers a bridge between the home and school environment. Through lessons in practical life, the child learns to care for himself, for others and for his environment. Activities include spooning, pouring, polishing and tweezing, as well as using the dressing frames, and help the child to master everyday skills which in turn allow the child to become independent. These activities also increase the child's level of concentration and coordination, and give the child a sense of order and a feeling of confidence. The inviting, child-sized activities help the child master both fine and gross motor skills as well as hand-eye coordination skills, which will help set the foundation for other areas of the classroom.
The sensorial area of the classroom provides the child with the opportunity to explore and order the environment. Sensorial activities help to refine the child's discrimination skills, including color, size, shape, sound and smell. Activities such as building the pink tower, using the geometric solids, grading sandpaper textures and matching the sound cylinders enable the child to strengthen his visual, tactile, olfactory, gustatory and auditory senses. The logical sequence of the materials is reinforced as the child has the experience of putting objects in order from thick to thin, large to small or dark to light. While using the self-correcting materials, the child develops skills in prediction, observation and classification. Sensorial activities prepare the child for all other academic areas of the Montessori classroom.
In the math area of the Montessori classroom, the child is presented with activities in a sequential manner moving from concrete to abstract and from simple to complex. The hands-on materials such as red and blue rods, spindles, beads, cubes, cards and counters help the child to see and feel quantities and numbers. Through the manipulation and experimentation of these materials, the child learns the principles of numbers and their complexity. Through the introduction of concrete concepts, the child is allowed the time to use a sensorial approach to fully understand abstract mathematical concepts including addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, as well as problem-solving skills. Children are also introduced to fractions, geometry, time, measurement and money.
The prepared environment in a Montessori classroom is filled with spoken as well as written language activities. Throughout the entire classroom the child hears, uses and expands his or her vocabulary, whether it is learning about the animals of the world or through singing, movement, story telling, sound games and creative writing, to name a few. The Montessori classroom is a fluid environment where changing visual images and activities promote conversation. Children are taught to work in a left-to-right progression to develop the necessary skills needed for reading and writing. Children learn through visual, auditory, stereognostic and experiences. Using the sandpaper letters, the child learns to associate the individual phoneme (sound) with its alphabetical symbol. With a multisensory approach, the child sees (visual) the form of the letters, hears (auditory) its sound, feels (tactile) its shape on his/her fingers and forms the shape with his/her hand and arm (muscle control). Using the movable alphabet as a creative writing tool, the child is able to construct words and sentences and express thoughts and feelings. The metal insets allow the child to develop a sense of hand-eye coordination, and also teach the correct pencil grip and lightness of touch that will ease the child into writing. The language area opens up the world, allowing children to explore and read and write about the world they live in.
The goal of the geography/history area of the classroom is to bring the world and its culture to the child. Through cultural activities, the child is able to learn about the world in which he or she lives. When children study geography and history in the Montessori classroom, they learn to make observations about the world through their senses as they go outside and collect samples of land, water and air. With the use of sandpaper globes, puzzle maps, land and water forms, and introductions to different cultures, children gain an understanding of the world in which they live and a sense of their place in it. Exposing a child to various cultures through music, art, books, clothing, textiles and so forth helps foster a strong appreciation and respect for all cultures.
The science curriculum in a Montessori classroom allows children to explore the world around them. The science curriculum explores a wide range of topics, including biology, zoology, botany, geology, physical science and astronomy. The child is very curious at this age. This is an ideal time to develop observation, theorizing and exploring skills. By building on these skills, the child learns problem-solving skills. With a hands-on approach, a child who studies the parts of a flower is also studying a real flower. Activities such as the parts of animals and plants puzzles, along with experiments with things that are magnetic or nonmagnetic, sink or float, living or nonliving, and the like enable children to classify the world around them. In doing so, the individual child gains an understanding of his or her surroundings as well as a sense of his or her place in the world.
Another approach, more traditional in style, is also offered to explore and enhance the child's imagination, creativity and sense of fantasy. Activities such as building blocks, painting, clay, puppets, a kitchen and house area, art activities, music and baking projects are integrated into each child's week. These activities help the child balance the developmental stages of social behavior, free thinking, sharing, following directions and expressing oneself through dramatic play.