YOUNG PEOPLE’S COMMUNITY
(AGES 15 – 36 MONTHS)
Our Young People’s Community is a nurturing environment arranged to cultivate independence, language and motor coordination. Under the guidance of the teacher the children joyfully participate in purposeful activity: food preparation, singing, washing and sorting items, storytelling and learning to care for him or herself, all the while learning to be part of a community.
Dr. Montessori realized that the first six years of life were unlike any other period in human development. Indeed, the first three years of life are the most fundamental in the development for potential.
The richly prepared environment is designed to meet the needs of the developing child. In the Montessori environment children develop skills for life. The specially trained teachers recognize each child as unique and create the space where children can explore and blossom. Spanish is also introduced at this level given the sensitive period for language acquisition.
(Preschool ages 2 ½-6)
The Children’s House at LMS provides a prepared, nurturing environment that enables the child to independently explore and discover. The Children's House Program is philosophically a three year cycle of learning and development although some children need four years to complete. Materials are designed to stimulate the senses and respond to the child’s internal need for order. The three year age range encourages children to self-initiate, the older children modeling and nurturing the younger while developing concentration and self-discipline.
CHILDREN’S HOUSE EXTENDED DAY PROGRAM
(5-6 YEAROLD) Full Day
This program is the sequential continuation of Children’s House. It includes children who show emotional readiness as well as the ability to respond to more advanced language, math and writing activities. Children are expected to pull together the previously learned skills of concentration, order, control of movement and independence that apply to more advanced work and preparation for the next level.
Practical Life: The Skills of Daily Living
Practical Life Skills are those that the child has seen adults doing in his own home. These include personal care (buttoning, zipping, and tying) and care of the environment, (cleaning, polishing, and food preparation). Small and gross motor task development is practiced in pouring, cutting, and balancing. Social development is modeled through interpersonal skills, grace and courtesy, speaking, and group participation. Practical Life Skill development provides a bridge between home and school and lays the foundation for learning and skills for life.
Sensorial: Exploration of the World through the Senses
Young children explore their world through their five senses, building a foundation for information gathering and concept development. Children’s House provides sensorial materials such as the pink tower, geometric solids, sound cylinders and color tablets to aid the child to internalize the concepts of size, shape, color, taste, touch and sound. The senses are first perceived singly in the young child before a grouping of two or more is integrated. The latter step is only achieved with the awakening of the former, single perception awareness.
Math: Exploration of the World of Minute and Magnitude through Senses
Maria Montessori recognized that children have a natural mathematical mind. Manipulation and experimentation of the Montessori math materials give the child the experience to prepare the mind to move from the concrete to the abstract, i.e., from objects held to written numbers. The young child first explores “how many” then moves on to written symbols. Children combine quantities in the operation of addition. Early Montessori math materials have a natural progression which draws the child into exploration and self discovery. Self discovery is the cornerstone of a quality Montessori education. It internalizes the learning process and builds self-esteem.
Language: The Transition from Spoken to Written Word
The goal of the Children’s House language program is to develop listening skills, comprehension and vocabulary, in order for the young child to express himself confidently, and comprehend that which another has spoken. Pictures and movable alphabets introduce the child to letters and their sounds. During their three years in Children’s House, children transition to composing words and sentences. Learning to write and recognize words leads to learning to decode or read. These are the building blocks for writing whole stores and the development of comprehension, later developed in natural order. Children’s House students are also exposed to Spanish lessons blending cultural and spoken aspects of the language.
Geography and Science: Where Are We in this World?
Geography is introduced in Children’s House through land formations and the exploration of the seven continents. Children in the Montessori classrooms work with large puzzle maps of each continent to lean the names of the countries. Children experience the cultures and customs of other nations around the world as part of the curriculum. Awareness of the vastness of their world enables children to place themselves in the center of this order, seeing each of the earth’s children as unique, and yet, similar in significant ways.
Science: Natural Resources and Man’s Place in a Changing World:
An introduction to science is begun through developing awareness of the scientific concepts of experimentation and discovery. Mammals, reptiles, dinosaurs, rocks and minerals, the solar system and simple machines are explored. The young child is filled with the excitement of discovery and differentiation. He begins to handle the tools the earth has to offer and witness what man has done to utilize them in a changing world.
The Arts: The Beginnings of Creative Expression
Children at LMS are directly exposed to a variety of artistic media and to discussion of these works and their artists, near and abroad. The aim of these activities is to awaken the creative self, building confidence through the development of artistic style and personal experimentation.
LOWER ELEMENTARY: Ages 6-9*
UPPER ELEMENTARY: Ages 9-12*
(Please note that ages are approximate as children learn at different rates. A Montessori education allows for different aged children to learn at his or her own pace.)
The elementary-aged child is indefinitely curious and imaginative. Montessori curriculum speaks to this global exploration of the child’s universe, emphasizing the interconnectedness of all peoples.
Balancing the Imagination: Essential in the Montessori curriculum is the availability and sequential and lateral order of concrete materials for the child’s exploration and further studies. These materials provide a balance for the child’s developing imagination and the pathway to pass through concrete to more abstract thinking. Preschool skill development is refined on the elementary level as the child works through structured sequences of concepts in a variety of disciplines.
The elementary environment also provides for essential social development. The multi-age class community develops the child’s tolerance and appreciation for people’s differences, and provides communion with each other’s similarities. The child learns to accept responsibility and feels a sense of ownership in his work and partnership with others.
The Great Lessons: Connected stories spanning time and space are designed to capture the imagination and inspire awe and wonder. This is the core foundation of the Great Lessons curriculum. The Coming of Life introduces the history of life on earth from one-celled animals and plants to human beings. The Coming of Humans relates the significance of human beings and what differentiates us from other life forms. The Story of Communication in Signs and The Story of Numbers provide a look at human invention in the context of the expanding civilization. Also central to the curriculum is the study of the Fundamental Needs of People, materially and spiritually (concrete and abstract). The program helps the child understand that the needs of all people in all places and times are the same. These stories act as catalysts in motivating the child to explore language, mathematics, social studies and the sciences.
Middle School (12-15 YEARS)
Litchfield Montessori Middle School at Millstream Farm
Adolescence is a time of great physical change, inner turmoil and transformation. During this period of increased physical energy, a quest for independence, social consciousness and purpose develops.
Maria Montessori realized that the adolescent should not be hampered by the limitations of the four walls of the classroom and a departmentalized curriculum, therefore she advocated for a land based, experiential form of education that would engage the mind as well as the hands.
The Litchfield Montessori School’s middle school program is located in the Nepaug section of New Hartford, CT on the peaceful, 30-acre Millstream Farm, and a pristine property that includes fields and farmland, gardens, ponds, streams, forest, wetland, pasture and abuts the 2,000-acre Nepaug State Forest. The beautiful property includes an 1812 colonial farmhouse and a large, red barn that was used for cow dairying until the 1950s. The 6,000-square-foot barn now houses dairy goats, horses and chickens. The property’s natural diversity and agricultural underpinnings open up limitless possibilities for the students to work and to study amid the tranquility of a prepared farm environment.
In sync with Dr. Maria Montessori’s vision and proposed syllabus, NAMTA Montessori Orientation to Adolescent Studies as well as the National Associations of Independent School’s trend schools for the 21st century, this program is a model of a “school of the future”. This land based program promotes skills and knowledge needed for the next century: global education, environmental sustainability, technology with purpose and connection and noted essential traits and skills for success in the 21st century: character, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and communication.
The Montessori Middle School Program follows an authentic approach to Montessori education centered on rigorous academic studies and purposeful, land-based work that emphasizes the interconnectedness among all academic subjects. Adolescents gain insight into their own capabilities and how they might apply them some day to life and to livelihood. The basic premise of the curriculum aims to link practical experiences with theoretical knowledge; studies are interdisciplinary and not viewed as separate disciplines. Learning becomes an essential and meaningful part of life, rather than a remote “schooling.”
Language: Students are directed to express themselves verbally, to discuss their thoughts and ideas, and to communicate with both peers and adults. More formally, discussions of novels, plays, short stories and poems take place in seminar format, in order to foster a deeper, collaborative approach to understanding a piece of work, encouraging the students to articulate thoughts about specific themes and to stay on topic. The students write across disciplines and genre, including essays, poems, journals, letters, reviews, personal narratives, lab reports, research reports, histories, biographies, and literary analyses and criticism. They become familiar with literary terms and concepts that they can use in their own writing, speaking and understanding of books, the world, and human nature. Further, the students have formal grammar lessons and memorize weekly vocabulary lists that include exercises in word etymologies, analogies, Latin enhancements and comprehension.
Math: Conventional text books are the mainstay of the curriculum and are used for breadth and continuity which meets contemporary standards. The students are given daily lessons and then proceed to do exercises that reinforce both the new material and review the old. Pre-algebra and high-school-level Algebra I are the focus of the middle school years. Math is also for practical application: to take measurements, analyze data, make comparisons, solve problems and/or organize information, using primarily the metric system. Geometry, algebraic calculations and routine arithmetic are reinforced and put to practical use as the students engage in carpentry, gardening and other purposeful projects.
Foreign Language: The goal in Spanish is to speak fluidly, to read, to understand, to write and to enjoy a second language. Students become appreciative of other languages and cultures, expand their understanding of the world and learn to communicate with people in a language other than their own. They have daily lessons and do exercises that build vocabulary, grammar, and reading comprehension skills. They converse, read aloud, and listen to spoken Spanish. Foreign language learning enhances intellectual growth, hones sensitivity to language and listening, and improves a student’s understanding of his or her own primary language.
Science (Occupations): This area of study includes ecology, geology, geography, biology, botany, chemistry, zoology, physiology, and anatomy. Students do scientific experimentation and conventional textbook work, including tests and quizzes, as well as hands-on projects related to the seasons, the environment and the available natural and cultural resources. Work in the garden, kitchen and barn is intended to provide access to science in a way that is more compelling, urgent and purposeful than abstract study alone. It provides the motivation and opportunity for deeper academic work. Students are expected to connect to the farm work as a community enterprise, strengthening their own character and knowledge while learning what it takes to contribute to a group endeavor.
Social Studies (Humanities Projects): This area of study aims to strike a balance between detail and generality. At times history is examined through a wide-angle lens, with timelines and broad overviews; and, at other times, history is examined through a telephoto lens, investigating in detail a particular event, person, civilization or trend and how it relates to the whole. Topics over the cycle include: scientific discoveries, geographical explorations, migrations, religion, patriotism, and wars and conquests of empires in relation to their ideals and moral standards. Humanities projects are often tied to the cultural and historical resources of the immediate area, strengthening the students’ understanding of place and identity.
Art, Music and Physical Education/Wellness for Life: These key components of the program are presented by topic specialists. Because adolescence is a time of great change, both physical and psychical, adolescents in particular need many opportunities to express themselves creatively and physically, while building skills and knowledge in the areas of performing and visual arts, music and (life time) sports and fitness.
THE DISCIPLINES OF THE CURRICULUM
Language: At the elementary school level, the child begins to see reading as the key to unlocking answers to his many questions about the world around him. As the child masters the mechanics of the reading process his exploring quality literature and is encouraged to express his creative self through his own writing. Activities center on world study, spelling, penmanship and grammar. Weekly book discussions often take place at a tea table to include an element of grace and courtesy.
Mathematics: The Montessori mathematics program is three dimensional and manipulative, revealing arithmetic, geometric and algebraic correlation simultaneously. Each material provides for a method to experience an abstract concept in a concrete way. Through working with these materials the child discovers the operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division and applies this knowledge to the study of word problems, time, money, measurement and graphing. In geometry, students studies links, angels, circles, and quadrilaterals and the concepts of congruency, similarity, equivalence, area and volume.
Social Studies: Geography and history are the core of the social studies curriculum. Geography materials are designed to show how the physical configuration of the earth contributes to history. It includes the study of land and water forms, world maps and the glove. Along with this physical geography, students explore the political geography; a study of countries around the world, in our country and in our State, The interdependence of all people is presented in economic geography thorough study of natural resources, production and populations of the world.
The history segment of social studies unfolds with the development of the solar system, life on earth and the development of humankind, early civilizations and recorded history. The goal is for the enlightenment of the student to witness the long labor of humankind that is needed to accomplish all that is enjoyed today.
Science: Science includes the study of life science, physical science and earth science. Life studies include botany, zoology and anthropology giving the student a means of classification to order his facts. The student is encouraged to see an ecological view of life and a feeling of responsibility to the earth’s environment and its peoples. Physical science focuses on the scientific methodology and the beginning exploration of chemistry and physics. Earth science introduces the studies of ecology, geology, and meteorology.
The Expression of Arts
The approach to foreign language at LMS is through cultural and historical exploration, spoken and written expression. Realizing the sensitive period for language acquisition begins at birth; LMS introduces Spanish into the prepared environments at our youngest level- Young People’s Community. Spanish a growing major language in the world is presented with this reasoning in mind.
Latin is introduced as an enhancement to the language studies in the Upper elementary. Other languages and cultural heritages are shared with our students, especially those of the current population of students. Various seasonal or culturally significant holidays are shared with our children through music, art, food and games.
Creative and Performing Arts: The creative arts are brought to life through art classes highlighting the Great Masters and their styles, and encouraging the child to self-express. Themes of nature, history and world culture are incorporated into the creative arts through multi-media exposure.
Weekly music instruction is designed to cultivate a joy, love and understanding of music, rhythm, and creative movement. Song, dance and an introduction to the performing arts provide the opportunity for students to develop teamwork, collaboration, and self-expression.
Each child is encouraged to develop his/her physical growth. In the classroom and through indoor and outdoor physical education sessions, eye-hand coordination, eye-food coordination, balance, strength, agility, and endurance are developed. Students learn a variety of muscles coordinating basic skills that are fun-filled and geared for overall fitness.
Computer Skills: General computer skills are begun in lower elementary are dedicated to useful work-related keyboarding skills. Students learn the basics of computer programs and data processing for later use in their academic careers. Upper elementary students employ computer use directly related to project research and presentation, evaluating sources, giving credit for borrowed materials as well as being advised of the potential dangers of internet use.
Speech and Language Services
Litchfield Montessori School has a private speech and language pathologist who can independently provide services to students who are diagnosed with speech, language, or learning differences. Observations, screenings, and some evaluative testing can also be provided. These services are administered by a licensed speech pathologist, Debbie Helck who holds an M.Ed. in Speech and Language pathology.
If a teacher has a concern related to your child's speech, language, and learning performance, she may ask the speech and language pathologist to observe and/or administer test screenings with the permission of the parent. A meeting will then be held with the parents. Recommendations will be made based on conclusions derived from this meeting.
There is no charge for the observation and screenings. If a recommendation is made for further testing, it is the responsibility of the parent to obtain further evaluation. Information on where to seek further testing will be provided. If the child warrants remediation, services are offered at LMS. Parents will be billed directly by the private speech and language pathologist.