“The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences.”
The Montessori program is designed as a three-year program. The successes in the second and third year can be traced back to the strong foundations built in the first year in our Casa environment.
Prior to any academic learning, in the first year the children learn to adapt to a new environment, different from home. This is the first place they will learn how to interact with people outside of their family. This is the first environment where the children will build their own community and network of friends. Through this network, the children will learn how to respect one another and how to resolve the first of many conflicts amongst their peers. Parents may begin to hear stories of different interactions at home. A healthy adaptation is very important, as it will allow the children to feel secure and safe in the environment. Once the child adapted to the environment, the guide will begin to show the child exercises that will further encourage the development independence, concentration, will, and discipline. Presentations in Grace and Courtesy are also taught, both by the guide and the older children as well. In our safe and supportive environment, the children are free to learn and express themselves. Children in the first year will spend time mostly in the Practical Life and Sensorial Area, as well as the Spoken Language Area. The skills developed in the first year will be further refined in the second year.
In the second year, the children return with confidence as they now understand and know the guidelines of the environment. These children will utilize social and emotional skills they have built in the previous year to help the younger children adapt to the environment. For example, they may explain to the younger children that the school is safe and the teachers are always there to help. The second year children are the best resources to model for adaptation because they have just recently been through the transition in the previous year. Through these gestures, they gradually build confidence. Moreover, because they are also working with the younger children – often helping them with challenging tasks, the second years will learn to be patient. They are also more aware of the activities that the third year children are doing, and hope that one day they can become these third year children, who are the leaders of the class. In the second year, the children have the foundation to handle and work on more complex activities, and they are also more capable of longer presentations. Gradually, they become more interested in the academic areas in Language and Math.
In the final year, this is where the masterpiece emerges. This is the time where the children really blossom. With all the life skills that they have mastered in the previous two years, the third year children are now ready to assist the younger ones in the classroom. They are the leaders of the classroom that all the first and second year children look up to. This contributes greatly to the third year children’s sense of leadership. Through leadership, they learn to behave properly and to self-monitor. They are the role models, and they take pride in being the role models of the classroom. They will continue to excel academically, but also becoming responsible members of the environment.