The Bridgeview Montessori School Children's House Program, which includes a full-day Kindergarten program, educates children ages 2.9 to 6 years old. There are five, four and three day programs for children younger than Kindergarten age. In each of these programs we have a 1 p.m. or 3 p.m. dismissal time. For Kindergarten students, we offer a five full-day program. The student to teacher ratio is no more than 10 to 1 in our multi-age classrooms. Our part- and full-day Children's House programs emphasize hands-on learning. All classrooms are fully equipped with Montessori learning materials, which our students use in their studies of Practical Life, Sensorial Development, Math, Language, Cultural Studies, and Science. Students also participate in the following enrichment classes: Studio Art, Art History, Music and Drama, and Spanish. In addition, when the weather permits, our students take advantage of our outdoor classroom and playground.
The Children's House/Kindergarten curriculum includes these main areas of learning:
PRACTICAL LIFE: The cornerstone of the Montessori classroom, providing practical experience in everyday living. Practical life activities develop not only fine motor skills and control of the body, but also a child’s concentration, coordination, independence and sense of order. Care of self and the environment and grace and courtesy are also part of practical life.
SENSORIAL: Development of the senses. The Montessori sensorial materials refine skills in observation, discrimination, and reasoning. Students learn to distinguish and differentiate physical properties through visual, auditory, and tactile learning. With the sensorial materials, students begin to learn specialized, more formal language, such as the names of different triangles and geometric solids.
LANGUAGE: The bridge between all areas of learning. The essential elements of the language program include emphasis on clear, accurate speech, listening skills, vocabulary enrichment, sound/symbol identification (phonics), rhyming, storytelling, handwriting, and beginning reading. The Montessori classroom is a language-rich environment with respect given to each child’s voice.
MATH: Builds on skills learned in other areas of the classroom, such as sensorial and language. The aim of the math program is to develop mathematical thinking skills—“the mathematical mind”—and a fundamental understanding of numbers and how we use them in everyday life. All work begins with hands-on materials in an effort to lead the child from a concrete to an abstract understanding of basic math concepts, including quantity, symbol, counting, the teens and tens, the decimal system and place value, operations of addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division, and fractions.
SCIENCE: Lays a foundation for an understanding of our natural world. Students are introduced to the basics of physical science, botany, and zoology. They learn about the plant and animal kingdoms, different kinds of vertebrates, the parts of plants and animals, life cycles, and many other details of our natural environment. The science program further enriches students’ vocabulary with precise and accurate terminology.
GEOGRAPHY/CULTURAL: A popular and integral part of our Montessori program. Beginning with land/air/water and the physical globe, students learn about the continents and oceans, then specific countries and cultures. Puzzle maps, flags, cultural objects, food, and music help students connect with the global community and gain an appreciation for other cultures.
ART STUDIO: Students are invited to work in the Art Studio two to three times each week. They work at their own pace to explore the basic elements of art including line, color, shape, form, and texture. Students create two and three dimensional projects both independently and in groups using a variety of materials, including watercolor and tempera paints, oil pastels, and markers. Collage, print-making, and an entire month of clay instruction round out the curriculum. Throughout the year, we collaborate with the Children's House teachers on a variety of projects, and the work we do in Art Studio is reinforced in the “art corners” in each classroom.
ART HISTORY: Students come to Art History in small groups from their classrooms. While in class, students are introduced to famous artists and their works. We study artists in various ways to gain an impressionistic understanding of that artist’s work. Through a series of hands-on activities, children begin to grasp the unique features of an artist.
MUSIC: Music is an important component of the Children's House Program. Through developmentally appropriate songs, chants, and dances, children become familiar with important aspects of music-making – moving in rhythm, singing in various tonalities, improvising, listening, using language in musical ways, dancing, and instrument exploration. Students have the opportunity to develop their tonality and singing as well as rhythm and movement both individually and in a group. This basic music competence will form a strong foundation for the life-long enjoyment of music and, if desired later, developmentally appropriate musical instruction.
SPANISH: Our Children's House Spanish program builds on our students’ joy of movement and music, their receptivity to new sounds and words, and their general openness to learning and taking risks. In addition to teaching age-appropriate vocabulary and structures, our ultimate goal is to foster a heartfelt love for and continuing interest in the Spanish language.
PEER PROBLEM SOLVING: When children have a disagreement, we use the following procedure to assist them in resolving the problem themselves.
1. The children involved go to a special area.
2. Each child describes what happened.
3. Each child tells the other how he/she felt.
4. The children think about how they can resolve the problem.
5. Discussion continues until the children agree among themselves on the best solutions. The children themselves discuss the best solution.
6. The ultimate goal is for children to become peaceful adults.
FOSTERING INDEPENDENCE: From the moment children begin learning with us, we encourage independence. Our Montessori curriculum includes both self care and care of the environment. We help children learn to put on their own shoes and clothes, zipper their coats, open and close their lunch containers, and set out and pack up their lunches. We also encourage children to become independent in toileting. Care of the environment is equally important in our curriculum. We teach and expect respect for materials and respect for others.
Kindergarten Program Curriculum
Our Kindergarten program extends throughout the day. In the morning, the Kindergarten students work within a mixed age group (2.9 to 6 years) and, as the oldest members of the class, have the opportunity to be leaders and role models for the younger children. In the afternoon, the Kindergarteners are in their own peer group. During this portion of the day, they continue with their Montessori work while also participating in a variety of whole group and project-based activities. They have multiple opportunities for in-depth studies that often integrate the curriculum areas of Language, Math, Science, and Geography/Cultural.
At the heart of our Kindergarten program is the Montessori philosophy of nurturing the whole child. Children receive individualized attention, and teachers support each child's social development as well as academic growth. Emphasis is placed on a peaceful yet stimulating environment in which each child may safely and happily thrive.
As a community of learners, the Kindergarteners explore topics of interest to the group. Some of these areas are: Pilgrims and Native Americans, the human body, and whales. Projects reinforce integrated learning and often involve journal writing, shared writing and class discussion.
The afternoon Kindergarten period also offers regular activities that encourage learning outside the classroom.
- Library: weekly - checking out books, listening to a story read by our librarian, and group discussion.
- Book Buddies: bi-monthly - a mentoring experience with the Elementary II students.
- Field Lessons: periodically - such as to the Post Office or other destinations within the vicinity, nature walks along the Canal.
Finally, our Kindergarten program encompasses the whole day, entails Montessori as well as project-based work, and addresses social and academic development. Most importantly, children learn to work peacefully together as a community and to respect and care for their social and physical environments.