At Hopscotch Montessori School, children find a wide range of didactic developmental materials. Scientifically tested and empirically verified, our techniques and activities are organized in our classrooms in the following areas:
Practical life activities are the fundamental bedrock of the Montessori system, as they are designed to develop order, coordination, concentration and independence. The focus is control over the nervous and muscular system. Children complete real and purposeful work. The goal of practical life activities for a child is building an independent and self-confident individual. For example, children are taught how to make juice, prepare small snacks, practice spooning, pouring, scrubbing, transferring, sewing and gardening among other practical life activities, all however performed within the explicit context of preserving and managing their immediate and extended environments. The core ethic in this process is the active actualization of grace and courtesy, the central pillars for all other areas in the Montessori classroom.
Sensorial area materials meet children’s tendency to auto-education through the senses, their sensitive period of movement, language and order. Sensorial materials provide the foundation for understanding mathematical concept. Working with these materials children learn the essential architecture of epistemology by engaging in classifying, comparing, ordering, patterning and measuring of real world problems. Absorbing the notions and concepts of numbers, shapes and space through active engagement the child is made aware of the abstract and actual underpinnings of practical reality. Sensorial materials thus hone the child’s elemental five senses (visual, tactile, gustatory, olfactory and auditory) while concomitantly deepening appreciation of nine qualities (size of dimension, shape, color, texture, taste, smell, sound, temperature and weight).
Math curriculum: The “mathematical mind” is a primary precept of the Montessori world-view. Montessori called her math materials “a gym for mental gymnastics”. While working in this area the child learns the importance of logical and rational thought. Montessori math materials are “hands-on”, real, three-dimensional, multi-sensory objects that promote active, yet abstract discovery of the mathematical foundations of modern existence. According to modern researchers Montessori math materials stimulate powerful neuronal and cognitive networking within the human brain. Critics have long lauded its amazing capacity to advance sophisticated learning of high order mathematical concepts as the decimal system, skip counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division in preschool/kindergarten students.
Language: Linguistic Communication, like Mathematics, is a tectonic developmental fault-line in the Montessori classroom. Montessori correctly perceived that the communicative faculty is best developed by open opportunity at dialogue and thus “freedom of conversation” is a fundamental tenet of Montessori learning. Accordingly, children are always encouraged to communicate with each other and with teachers anytime they need. Supplementing the liberal verbal environment are tangible language materials that reinforce the symbiotic relationship between the verbal and written elements of communication. Children deploy sandpaper letters; movable alphabet; objects/sounds matching materials; writing tools; sound boxes and voluminous books for independent and collective reading, together with pedagogical directed “circle-time,” and “daily topics and conversations” activities to further communicative development. This highly specialized linguistic process teaches sounds, letters, words and reading in a very spontaneous and accelerated manner that produce wonderful eureka moments for that child when he/she discovers that he/she can read. Montessori method is truly unique in this area.
Cultural environment: The Montessori system is a comprehensive learning environment whose aim is to develop curios and aware individuals who are cognizant of the World and its relationship to the Self. To achieve this “Worldly” cognition the Montessori classroom exposes children to a cultural studies program consisting of Geography, Botany, Zoology, Science, History, Foreign Languages and Culture, Music, and Art. Children typically encounter cultural materials such as puzzle maps, special Globes, flags, special land and water forms, among others. By studying the Universe, Earth, Continents, countries, cities, their neighborhood, different types of animals and plants and other extant ambient realities of the World, the child becomes a global citizen and is prepared to play a constructive role in the global environment. Importantly, given the need for a positive and protective human relationship with the Global environment, our school takes specific and deliberate steps to include significant outdoor activities in the curriculum where the children study nature so as to provide them with the necessary knowledge they will need to become good citizens of the World even at their young ages.
Art and music: Art and Music exercises and activities are a necessary developmental feature of the Montessori system. They enable an aesthetic reflex to develop in the child even as they undergird a vital holistic elasticity of mind that is essential to the growth of a complete person. Art develops the habits of mind that are critical for the creative process to take root in the being. Children in our classrooms experiment with different materials even as they learn about various artistic techniques and are exposed to famous artists. Art activities are integrated in almost all areas of the classroom. Music complements this “Artistic environment” by furthering an appreciation for harmony and composition in an organized system. Children listen, play and learn music in an integrated and prepared environment, which engages them spontaneously and joyously.
Movement: “If you wish to give the means to the child for his development you must give them in such a way that the child can, and must move” M.Montessori.
The Montessori environment is above all a dynamic and engaged process that encourages the free and unencumbered movement of children through a prepared and pedagogical classroom space. Outside physical activities and yoga classes are deliberate physical adjuncts that complement a veritable menu of play and process that is constant throughout the learning day.