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Santa Clara Montessori's classroom is thoughtfully designed to support self-directed exploration and maximize learning experiences for a small student community. The school provides a carefully prepared, aesthetically pleasing environment characterized by an orderly arrangement of sequential learning materials that are developmentally appropriate and naturally appealing to children. Each subject area has hands-on, experiential, and self-correcting materials that spark the child’s innate curiosity to learn.

The curriculum at Santa Clara Montessori is often translated into classroom activities and cultural celebrations throughout the school year.  To facilitate this unique educational experience, teachers of Santa Clara Montessori prepare and adapt the environment to match children’s readiness and needs, both for each age group and for each individual child. Additionally, they are trained to be keen observers of children in order to time and optimize lessons or activities to make the most of learning moments.  Santa Clara Montessori curriculum incorporates the following unique characteristics.

  • Toddler Class
    The period of toddler is the most important of your child’s cognitive development. During this time, the true foundation in academic, cognitive, social and emotional skills are created and nurtured. Toddlers are actively and constantly seeking out information and learning through non-verbal cues. They eager for independence, knowledge, order, and consistency and ceaselessly explore their environmental surroundings. So we prepared our toddler environment carefully in order for them to explore safely and achieve these developmental concepts. Our toddler program consists of a wide range of artistic, expressive and technological subjects at a very young age, and it allows the child’s love of learning and the potential to grow immensely in a very short period of time. What do students learn? Practical Life Activities Transferring objects (using the whole hand, tweezers, and tongs) Spooning objects (small and large) Pouring objects (wet and dry) Sweeping objects (small) Squeezing objects (small and large) Care of self: folding/rolling napkins, and dressing one’s self (buttoning, zippering, Velcro, tying, lacing, etc.) Care of environment: sweeping ground, plant care Water activities: washing a baby, basting water, scrubbing table, making bubbles with whisk, sponge squeezing etc. Grace and courtesy: cutting slices of banana, peeling a carrot, cutting a string cheese. Serving food to friends with manner and respect. Sensory Recognizing and grading objects based upon size, shape, and color Differentiating between patterned objects and matching accordingly Refining the senses through grading and matching activities such as: Smelling jars (differentiating between smells) Sound cylinders (differentiating and matching sounds) Tasting jars (differentiating between tastes) Touch boards (feeling rough and smooth objects) Sight (grading by size, shape, and color) Language Arts Understanding of opposites (on-off, up-down, etc.) Understanding sequence of objects or stories Understanding timelines Phonetic sounds (knowing at least 13 letter sounds) Symbolic letter recognition and identification Beginning letter tracing Holding a pencil correctly (3-finger grasp) Poking paper to promote fine muscle development in the hands Recognizing name and learning how it is spelled Mathematics Learning basic geometric shapes (circle, triangle, square, etc.) Counting numbers 1-10 Association of quantity with numerals 1-10 (how much quantity is in a number- i.e.- 1 =1, 2=2, etc.) Understanding the concept of 0 means nothing Cultural Subjects Botany: Parts of plants and how plants grow Zoology: Parts of animals, reptiles, amphibians, where animals live, how to take care of animals Geography and Culture: Earth’s Landforms and Continents, native plants and animals of each continent, different cultures of each continent Important Life Skills Building concentration span Building self-confidence, personal discipline & independence Fine & gross motor skills Hand-eye coordination Order within the environment (cleaning up) Listening, comprehension, following directions and classroom rules Ability to share with others Showing empathy towards others Language and verbalization of needs or emotions
  • Infant Class
    During the first two years of life, children are working on acquiring a sense of trustworthiness of themselves and others. This is the sense of safety and security that comes from responsive and predictable care from familiar others to whom the child is attached. In the toddler years, a strong sense of autonomy is building. This comes from being treated as an individual and being allowed opportunities for independence. When children feel the sense of independence, power, and competence, they can step out into the world and be active learners and problem solvers. Young children need a safe environment full of opportunities to explore and have fun. They need to be able to see, touch, feel, and move. The curriculum for infants and older infants involves everything that happens to the child throughout the day. Responsive care giving is the key component to setting up a safe and secure environment and trusting relationships. Everything that a child experiences are learning opportunities. For example, diaper changes are perfect opportunities for learning experiences: language, reading books, singing gently to a child; showing gentle touches; letting the child know that this is not a hurried or rushed experience and that they are valued and precious individuals; gently moving their legs in a bicycle motion stimulating movement or having them reach and grasp for an object. Throughout the day, teachers will take advantage of these care-giving experiences that are so important in the early years of life and turn them into meaningful and positive experiences for a child’s healthy development.
  • Enrichment Programs
    Chinese Language Children learn songs, vocabulary, numbers, phrases, cultural traditions, holiday celebrations, basic conversational skills and identification of simple Chinese characters. Spanish Language Children learn songs, vocabulary, numbers, phrases, cultural traditions, holiday celebrations and basic conversational skills. Korean Language Children learn songs, simple vocabulary, numbers, and cultural traditions through music, movement, and stories. Taekwondo Children learn self-balance, stretching, jumping, hopping, tumbling, body movement, etc. through a variety of controlled and purposeful gross-motor activities. Children also develop self-esteem, self-discipline, patience, concentration, and respect through the spirits of Taekwondo. Yoga Our yoga class provides kids with coordination, flexibility, and focus in a non-competitive environment. It’s about fun and play. Children relax and exercise their imaginations, and build important blocks of self-esteem and identity. Gardening Learn about the beauty of a garden, and the care involved in planning, nurturing and enjoying the benefits of gardening. Help children grow up loving gardening and learning how to grow their own food in an eco-friendly environment. Cooking & Baking The opportunity to create child’s own healthy meals that teach children while they learn important math as they follow recipes and measure ingredients. Learning of measurement and differentiating between smells, tastes, size, shape, color, and sounds is giving children a lot of fun. Children also learn about food safety and meal planning skills they help them learn about nutrition and healthy choices in a very fun, and interactive way. Piano Piano lessons provide a wide range of benefits to young children. Children learn through piano lessons how to preserve and develop their natural creative abilities and natural learning processes. Piano lessons help children develop courage, concentration and achieve goals. Music and Movement Children have an engaging, inhibited experience by singing songs, dancing and using instruments. Children also learn about classical composers and be exposed to a wide range of sounds and rhythm from various instruments, international music and fun movements following all different kinds of music. Art Fun and exciting lessons through a variety of types and mediums of art such as drawing, painting, gluing, cutting, clay work, water color, collage, crayons, coloring, mosaic, famous artists, etc.
  • Preschool Class
    The three to six-year-old child is consciously learning through work with purpose in an attractively well-prepared environment. Dr. Montessori laid down a definition about the three to six-year-old child as “absorbent mind” which translates into a need to process and learn as much new information through their surrounding as possible. Preschoolers need “intense mental activity” for developing and refining cognitive, social and emotional skills. Students want to move around the classroom with their freedom and choose individual work when they are ready for it. Freedom is the key point for the Montessori students to become independent, confident, creative and respectful with the teachers who support them to excel at their own cognitive pace in an attractively well-prepared classroom. What do students learn? Language Arts Able to associate all letters with their sounds Understand initial and ending sounds Use of metal insets to promote hand strength and fine motor skills for writing Use the movable alphabet to build three-letter words Working on phonetic workbooks Begin reading three-letter words Tracing and writing one’s own name Tracing letters using sandpaper letters and motor memory Fine motor development, writing and staying on the line Mathematics Understand and name geometric shapes Counting numbers 1-10 (recognizing numeric symbols and associating numeric symbols with quantity) Understand concepts of teen numbers (11-20) and their quantity Understand concepts of ten’s (10, 20, 30, etc.) and their quantity Understand decimal point concept and quantity Counting and numeration order from 1-100 Beginning basic concept of simple addition Sensory Naming each metal inset shape, using metal insets with activity variations and extensions Differentiating between matching patterned objects Understand how to match, grade, classify and categorize to building on writing and counting skills Refining the senses through grading and matching activities: differentiating and grading size by pink cubes, cylinder blocks and knobless cylinders, differentiating and matching sounds by sound cylinders, differentiating between smells by smelling jars, and feeling rough and smooth objects by touch Cultural Subjects Botany: Parts of plants, how plants grow, taking care of plants. Comparing and tasting fruit and vegetable. Study of roots, stems, leaves, flowers, and seeds. Zoology: Parts of different types of animals, amphibians, reptiles, and dinosaurs. Where animals live and how to take care of animals Science: Simple experiments to develop an understanding of physical science and how it relates to planet Earth. Study of our body composition and individual roles in the body Geography and Culture: Earth’s landforms and continents, recognizing and naming continents, native plants and animals from each continent, different cultures and traditions from each continent. Solar system and weather change Important Life Skills Ability to work and share closely with others, solve small conflicts Ability to listen, comprehend and follow verbal and non-verbal directions Building upon concentration span, follow-through and complete a task in a reasonable time (5 -10 minutes) Development of social maturity, self-control, and empathy for others Development of grace & courtesy, respect for others Able to carry on a conversation with an adult or child Able to distinguish full name, learn how to spell name Able to memorize/repeat songs, events, finger plays, etc. Has understanding of classroom rules and consequences of their actions
  • Independence
    All materials and activities are designed to inspire age-appropriate independence, creating a small society of capable, independent learners working together. During sensitive periods of development, the teacher provides direct instruction. After that, the child begins to work with the materials independently.
  • Teachers as Observers
    Through observation and attention to sensitive periods of development, teachers guide each child through the curriculum by introducing concepts and materials in individual and small-group lessons. Children are then encouraged to practice and refine skills through repetition. Introduction of new challenges occurs when the child is ready to progress to the next phase of learning. As children grow at their own pace, consecutive lessons are presented and additional materials are used to explore ideas more intensely.
  • Core Subjects
    Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Mathematics, Science (Botany, Zoology, Geography & Culture)
  • Materials
    Montessori-designed educational materials and teacher-developed activities encourage sensory exploration of the world. They help children develop concentration, observation, and assessment skills. The use of self-correcting materials promotes independent learning, while the sequential order (advancing in degree of difficulty and abstraction) encourages children to reach higher levels of learning.
  • Three-Year Cycle
    A mixed age-grouping revolves around a three-year cycle, providing children an opportunity to learn from each other, to act as role models for learning, and to respond to their natural drive to work. This stimulating, cooperative atmosphere allows the children to develop at their individual rate over the three-year period, and to take each subject of study to a deeper level of understanding with each year.
  • Sensitive Periods
    Applying her expertise in neuroscience, Dr. Montessori was the first to design an educational system that recognizes that there are certain times that are optimal for a child to develop a particular skill. The Montessori method’s goal is to match the appropriate instruction to the individual child’s sensitive period for skill mastery.
  • Big Picture Focus
    The Montessori curriculum is described as “cosmic,” meaning that it is a comprehensive, integrated design that successively builds on prior educational exposure, creating breadth and depth of knowledge.
  • Prepared Environment
    Designed with the child in mind, the learning environment is beautiful, child-sized, and thoughtfully arranged. This includes a full array of developmentally appropriate activities and uniquely designed materials that intrigue children at each evolving sensitive period. The outdoor environment stimulates interaction with the natural world while planting the seeds for scientific inquiry.
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