Central Montessori Academy’s course of study encompasses the full substance of the traditional curriculum and beyond to teach students how to think clearly, do their own research, express themselves well in writing and speech, and to put their knowledge to practical application.
Rather than a traditional model in which the curriculum is compartmentalized into separate subjects, with given topics considered only once at a given grade level, at Central Montessori Academy, lessons are introduced simply and concretely in the early years and are reintroduced several times during the following years at increasing degrees of abstraction and complexity.
Literature, the arts, history, social issues, government, economics, architecture, medicine, science, and the study of technology all complement one another in our curriculum.
This integrated approach is one of Central Montessori Academy’s great strengths. For example, when our students study the ancient Greeks in world history, they also read Homer and Bullfinch’s Mythology.
Central Montessori Academy offers an education that prepares children for the higher levels of education ahead of them. This preparation is combined with a rigorous, yet innovative, academic program. While we offer a warm, supportive academic atmosphere, we also set a high level of expectation for the quality of thought, work, and mastery of content and skills.
We believe the foundation of a good education is to learn how to learn.
The following is a brief overview of Central Montessori Academy ‘s core curriculum in the areas of language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, sensory training, and practical life for our students from preschool through the upper elementary level. For the sake of brevity, we have not included descriptions of our curriculum in the arts, music, physical education, and foreign language.
Please keep in mind that this represents a general overview of the course of study, and is not meant to be complete. Since our students progress at their own pace, it is not possible to divide up the curriculum by grade levels.
Reading and Language Arts
In our multi‑age classroom design, our youngest students are constantly exposed to the older children in the class who are already reading. The total environment of the Pre‑primary classes (3 to 6 years old) creates and reinforces in our young children a spontaneous interest in learning how to read. We begin to teach reading as soon as that interest emerges.
Using a total immersion approach, we help the youngest children to develop a highly sophisticated vocabulary and command of the language. As the child’s reading vocabulary increases, verbal commands involve full sentences and multiple steps: “Place the mat on the table and bring back a red pencil.”
Children enhance their reading and language skills by using CMA’s Leveled Library and reference books on a daily basis for both research and pleasure.
At an early age, before handwriting has been mastered, the children compose sentences, stories, and poetry by oral dictation to adults and with the use of the “Moveable Alphabet” tool. Once handwriting is fairly accomplished, the children begin to develop their composition skills. They continue to develop over the years at increasing levels of sophistication.
The sequence of spelling, as with all language skills, begins much earlier than is traditional in this country, during a time when children are spontaneously interested in language. It continues throughout their education. Children at CMA begin to spell using the Moveable Alphabet to sound out and spell words as they are first learning to read. They take dictation – spelling words called for by the teacher – as a daily exercise.
The study of grammar begins almost immediately after the child begins to read, during the sensitive period when he is spontaneously interested in language. It continues over several years until mastered. The idea is to introduce grammar to the young child as she is first learning how to put thoughts down on paper, when the process is natural and interesting, rather than waiting until the student is much older and finds the work tedious.
Our children learn the function of the parts of speech one at a time through many games and exercises that isolate the one element under study. Montessori has assigned a geometric symbol to represent each element of grammar. (For example, a large red circle represents verbs.) The children analyze sentences by placing the symbols for the appropriate part of speech over each word.
By age 9, research skills and the preparation of reports are major components of the educational program at Central Montessori Academy . Students research areas of interest or topics that have been assigned in depth, and prepare formal and informal, written and oral reports.
Creative and expository composition skills continue to develop as children advance to each level. Students are typically asked to write on a daily basis, composing short stories, poems, plays, reports, and news articles.
Our students are typically introduced to numbers at age 3, with introduction to the decimal system by age 3 or 4. Following this, development of the concept of the four basic mathematical operations: addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division through work with the Montessori “Golden Bead” materials. The child builds numbers with the bead material and performs mathematical operations concretely. (This process normally begins by age 4 and extends over the next two or three years.) Work with this material over a long period is critical to the full understanding of abstract mathematics for all but a few exceptional children. This process tends to develop in the child a much deeper understanding of mathematics.
Beginning the “passage to abstraction,” the child begins to solve problems with paper and pencil while working with the concrete materials. Eventually, the materials are no longer needed. Practical application problems, which are used from the beginning, become far more important around age 7‑8 and afterward. Solving word problems, and determining arithmetic procedures in real situations (such as working with money and calculating interest) becomes a major focus.
Sensorial exploration of plane and solid figures begins at the Pre-pimary level (Ages 3 to 6) with the study of the basic properties and definitions of the geometric shapes. This is essentially as much a reading exercise as mathematics since the definitions are part of the early language materials.
More advanced study of the nomenclature, characteristics, measurement and drawing of the geometric shapes and concepts such as points, line, angle, surface, solid, properties of triangles, circles, etc. continues through age 12 in repeated cycles.
Concepts of physical geography (including globes, land and water formations and maps) are taught beginning at age 3. Over the next several years, more complex geographical concepts are incorporated into the instruction, including introduction to written names and various forms of maps; and beginning study of flora, fauna, landscapes, and people of the continents.
In addition, children are introduced to humankind’s search to understand how the Earth was formed, from creation stories to the evidence of contemporary scientific research: origins, geologic forces, formations of the oceans and atmosphere, continental drift and tectonic plates, volcanoes, earth quakes, the ice ages and the formation of mountain ranges.
Also explored are the study of coasts and land reliefs and the hydrosphere (oceans, rivers, lakes and the water cycle).
Countries are studied in many ways at all levels of Central Montessori Academy , beginning at about age 3‑4. A number of celebrations are held every year to focus on specific cultures and to celebrate life together: an example being Chinese New Year, when the entire school might study China , prepare Chinese food, learn Chinese dances, and participate in a special dragon dance parade.
Anything that the children find interesting is used to help them become familiar with the countries of the world: flags, boundaries, food, climate, traditional dress, houses, major cities, children’s toys and games, stamps, coins, traditional foods, art, music, and history. This interweaves through the entire curriculum.
Study of the regions, culture, and natural resources of the United States, including geography, climate, flora and fauna, major rivers and lakes, capitals, important cities, mountains, people, regional foods, traditions, etc. This begins at age 5 and continues at increasing depth at each level.
The detailed study of one nation at a time. Focus moves over the years from one continent to another, as the children’s interest leads them. All aspects of the nation are considered: geography, climate, flora and fauna, major rivers and lakes, cities, mountains, people, food, religions, etc.
The Economic Geography curriculum at CMA includes how humankind uses natural resources, the interdependence of nations (such as imports and exports) and basic human needs (food, shelter, clothing, defense, transportation, culture, law, religion or spiritual enlightenment, love and adornment).
The concept of time and historical time is developed through many activities and repeated at deeper complexity beginning from age 5. Each year the child continues to study and analyze the needs, culture, technology, and social history of various historical periods‑ the trends of human achievement are charted, such as the development of transportation, architecture, great inventions, and great leaders.
When the child reaches Upper Elementary (grades 4-6, ages 9‑12) the history program follows a three‑year cycle of thematic study. Students study whichever themes are being presented that year regardless of their age. This three-yer cycle begins with early human civilizations, continues through ancient cultures such as Greece, Rome, China and Byzantium, and into the Middle ages. By the third year, the class will focus on American studies, including an introduction to the history of the United States, American folk culture, technology, children’s literature, government, and geography. The class will also consider Pre-Columbian Central and South American cultures, the Native American peoples of North America , the age of exploration, and the immigrant cultural groups who came to America from Europe , Africa , Asia , and Latin America .
At this level, students will go into considerably greater depth and prepare increasingly sophisticated projects and research reports.
Starting at age 3, students begin to differentiate between living and non-living things, plants and animals, and begin observing animals in nature. During the Pre-primary years, children are introduced to scientific nomenclature, learning the names associated with parts of plants, trees and flowers (Botany); parts of human beings, insects, fish, birds and other animals (Zoology); habitat, food chain, adaptation, climate and predator-prey relationships (Ecology).
Continuing into the Lower Elementary years (Grades 1-3, Age 6-9), children learn advanced elementary biology, chemistry, geology and mineralogy, meteorology, astronomy and elementary physics.
By the time children have completed Upper Elementary studies, they will have also explored detailed animal behavior (through observation), health and nutrition, advanced ecology and the use of common scientific apparatus (such as microscopes and telescopes), graphical analysis and inventions. During this three-year period, they will use increasingly sophisticated observation and measurement techniques, and will create detailed research projects.
Practical Life Skills
One of the first goals of Central Montessori Academy is to develop in the very young child a strong and realistic sense of independence and self‑reliance. Along with love and a stable environment, this is the child’s greatest need. This area of the curriculum focuses on developing skills that allow the child to effectively control and deal with the social and physical environment in which he lives. There is a growing pride in being able to “do it for myself.”
Practical life begins as soon as the young child enters the school and continues throughout the curriculum to more and more advanced tasks appropriate to the oldest students.
This process continues logically so that older students will learn such practical tasks as: Caring for animals, sewing, cooking simple and complex meals, getting around on their own (bike, bus, etc), self-defense, budgeting and making purchasing decisions, mastering test taking strategies, running a small business enterprise and gardening.
These are exercises in perception, observation, fine discrimination. and classification that play a major role in helping our children to develop their sense of logic and concentration. They begin at age 3 and are a major area of concentration typically through age 5.
With the older students, this training leads to such exercises as: Precise observation of the natural world, culinary discrimination, artistic appreciation, architectural appreciation and musical appreciation.