Primary: Preschool and Kindergarten (2.9 – 6 years)
The VMS Preschool program provides children with many opportunities for hands-on exploration, experimentation and expressions of new ideas and skills. Our dedicated teachers help the children discover and develop their natural abilities and interests to prepare them for academic and community life.
Kindergarten students have ample opportunities to enhance their learning and interests by working with more advanced materials and lessons in an interactive program. Having experienced the same teacher for more than a year, these students benefit from the teacher knowing their individual progress, strengths and areas needing improvement, both socially and academically. Kindergarteners enjoy individualized lessons and spend time practicing and refining their skills in the curriculum areas of language, mathematics, geography, history, art and music. They take responsibility for their own learning and become proud of their achievements, learning to love learning. As the leaders of the Children’s House classrooms, the kindergarteners assume more responsibility and enjoy helping their younger peers.
Guided by her discovery that children teach themselves, Dr. Maria Montessori designed a “prepared environment” in which children could freely choose from a number of developmentally appropriate activities. Learning projects are focused on care of self, care of environment, grace and courtesy and movement. These activities help the child to develop particular lifelong skills. Exercises which foster courtesy, such as preparing and serving snacks, help children begin to develop a sense of belonging to an interdependent community.
The primary classroom is a mixed-age one and organized into five major areas: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math and Cultural Studies.
The practical life activities are focused around care of self, care of environment, grace and courtesy, and movement. These activities help the child to develop particular lifelong skills (zipping or tying, pouring or cutting, greeting a visitor). The children cultivate their eye-hand dexterity and coordination through use of pouring, spooning and polishing materials as well as developing physical independence when carrying out everyday tasks. Exercises which foster courtesy, such as preparing and serving snacks, help children begin to develop a sense of belonging to an interdependent community.
The sensorial curriculum focuses upon work of the hand and mind. Through exercises of comparison, discrimination and observation designed to refine the sense, children develop their foundation for later abstract learning. Coordination skills, concentration and judgment are fostered as children manipulate the colorful, attractive sensorial apparatus.
Language is an integral component of the entire Montessori curriculum, because all thoughts, ideas and concepts can only be understood and clarified through oral or written communication. As such, language is always presented in a context or body of information, rather than studied in isolation of other material. The children will learn the symbols for each sound and then begin to make simple phonetic words using the Moveable alphabet, which is a set of precut letters. Through these exercise, children discover that they can read.
The mathematics curriculum is based upon the importance of comprehension through manipulation and sensorial learning. Understanding of number value and symbol, fundamental operations and mathematical number facts are achieved through exploration of concrete materials that are designed to illustrate mathematical principles. Learning in this way promotes feelings of confidence and success and ultimately the development of a mathematical mind.
In the cultural area, materials focusing upon topics related to biology, history, geography, art, music and movement are presented to stimulate the appreciation and natural curiosity possessed by children about the world which surrounds them. Creativity is fostered through a variety of activities related to the expressive arts.