Skinner Elementary Montessori:
Skinner Elementary Montessori School, located in Vancouver, Washington State (10 minutes north of Portland Oregon), is a private Montessori School offering programs to children ages 2½ through 6th grade. Since 1973, the Skinner Elementary Montessori School has been dedicated to providing the finest Montessori education available in the Northwest. Skinner believes that every child can achieve social and academic skills far beyond those levels society presently accepts. We are proud of our teachers and understand how critical they are to your child's development as a learner. And we're committed to offering an exemplary Montessori education to our students. That is why all classroom teachers at Skinner are not only experienced educators, but also trained by the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), the only organization Dr. Montessori established to train teachers.
Primary School Curriculum (2 1/2 - 5 years):
Language exercises are offered to the child initially as an aid to the child’s own developmental process for language. When the child enters the Primary Montessori classroom, the exercises of language offered to the child will simply add to the foundation the child has already made through self construction. During the time the child is a part of this environment, she will go through three stages of language: expansion of vocabulary, writing, and reading. All the work of the spoken language is the preparation for writing, which is the mode of language in which the child is able to express something within her in a visual form. After the child explodes into writing, she will discover reading as she begins to synthesize sound. Reading is much more complex than writing, for now the letters of a word are mentally taken apart and put back together. Thus, a child will be offered exercises to expand her vocabulary, introduce phonetic sounds, followed by exercises to progress her reading and grammar with didactic materials in addition to interpretive reading. The goal is to present children with avenues for total reading.
Everyone, by nature is mathematical. We are all born with a mathematical mind, which isn’t something that we create, but will need to awaken it into consciousness. Through the exercises offered to the child, the child is preparing for the emergence of the mathematical mind that exists within him. The child is introduced to the exercises for mathematics through number work progression; introduction to numbers; 0-9; the decimal system, and teens and tens work. With the decimal system work the child is introduced to addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. These series of exercises help the child to understand the process before the memorization of it. After the child is comfortable with using the process with concrete materials, she will be offered exercises to aid them in the for memory work for each math function, moving into the area of abstraction. It is at this bridge that mathematics becomes a cognitive process.
Practical Life is the cornerstone of the environment. These lessons are presented first to the child to form a foundation for the other areas of the environment. Practical life exercises are the child’s introduction to the prepared environment of the Montessori classroom designed for children 2 ½ years to 6 years old. A child in this setting will continually be involved with some element of Practical Life. The child will be presented exercises in four areas - care of the environment, such as washing a table; care of the person, such as dressing frames; social relations, offered as grace and courtesy lessons; and analysis and control of movement, such as walking on the line. Through these exercises children are given the skills to function independently. They build their concentration through repetition of the work until they reach a state of perfection and satisfaction, which develops the children’s self-confidence.
Through the sensorial area, the child is given the facilities to make clear concepts and classifications for all the information she has gathered thus far through her sensory perceptions. Through this rediscovery, the sensorial materials are materialized abstractions of the universe/environment for simplification or generalizations. The child can now make refinements and make the information retrievable with language. These sensorial materials allow the child opportunities to develop accurate and discriminatory recall of these impressions. Through her exploration of these materials she will be able to refine her sensory perceptions in order to perceive finer and finer distinctions. Exercises will be presented for all five senses – visual, such as the Pink Tower; tactile – touch tables; auditory – sound boxes; olfactory – smelling jars; and taste—testing bottles.
The purpose of the art area is to provide a variety of art media for the child to use for self-expression. The child will be shown how to use the instrument and one-to-two things you can do with it. At that point the child is free to create. Exercises for art appreciation and history will often be included in many other areas in the classroom.
History exercises are included in the Primary Montessori classroom to awaken interest in the child. These exercises give the child an orientation of “long ago”. Also, the child is offered presentations of the passage of time and how it is recorded or kept. The child is given these exercises to help her attach a scheme of how to attach language to this passage of time.
When Maria Montessori first worked with children in her "Casa de Bambini", the Italic script was used. It is believed that this was the reason that the children “exploded” into writing. Italic letters are easy to form as they are based on elliptical shapes conforming to the natural way a hand moves, and requiring few lifts of the pencil. For a child to move from the traditional print letters to cursive requires them to learn all fifty-two letter forms. When a child moves from print Italic to cursive Italic, however, it requires only the addition of serifs and diagonal joining strokes. Because Italic is in a sense a medium cursive and print, it is easy for children to learn to read both print and cursive when they begin with Italic. Also, each letter in Italic is unique and distinguishable from the other letters and there is no confusion between “b”, “p”, “d”, and “q” as in other forms of writing.
The purpose of biology in the Primary Montessori classroom is to guide the child’s natural exploration from mystery to mystery, revelation to revelation, and wonder to wonder. The biology exercises help the child to form an appreciation of life and an awareness of the interdependence and interrelatedness of nature. These exercises will guide the child’s observations of nature and help establish a framework in which the child may relate her experiences.
The purpose of geography exercises in the Primary Montessori classroom is to introduce the child to his place in the cosmos. It helps the child become aware of the oneness of mankind as well as help the child to appreciate the sameness of all mankind and on the other hand, to the amazing scope of variations among people as a result of physical geography and the creative efforts and inventions of man. These exercises are offered as physical geography and political geography presentations. In physical geography, the children learn about land and water formations. The political geography exercises help the child understand her relationship to the rest of the world. Global maps are introduced first, then continents and countries. Other exercises will introduce the culture of countries around the world.
The steps to understanding music are absorption, exploration and composition. Absorption is best accomplished through watching and listening. Exploration is accomplished through imitation, singing and directed lessons. Composition occurs when the child puts the elements of music (rhythm, pitch, intensity and tonal quality) together. A combination of the intellectual and sensorial approach helps the child move to this final state. The understanding of the basic elements leads naturally to the discussion of the same elements in poetry and language.
When children enter the Primary Montessori classroom, they have had many observations about phenomena in physical science, but no experience with it. We offer them science in a way that they can experience it, with science exercises that give them things they can see. These exercises are given in a controlled way for the child to have opportunities to study, explore, and gain an impression of basic physical laws of nature.
French is the second language taught at Skinner Elementary Montessori. The school has developed its own phonetic French program modeled on the Montessori method for teaching English and has received national recognition through the National French contest.
Elementary School Curriculum (Grades 1 - 6):
Lifestyles and behaviors in regards to health and activity are formed in the earlier years of a person's life. Skinner Elementary Montessori acknowledges the importance of educating its students in promoting a healthy lifestyle and as such will be exposed to contemporary issues surrounding health, nutrition, as well as physical activities to boost confidence and motor development in such areas as Yoga, Dance, Tai Chi, Basketball, and Track and Field. This program is offered for elementary students weekly as part of the regular curriculum.
At the Skinner Elementary School, the subject of history includes both natural and political history. In natural history, students begin with the evolution of plant and animal life. They learn that life is in harmony with nature and that it progresses by means of heredity, variation and mutation. The study of political history is the history of man on the earth. It begins with the Stone Age and concludes with American History. The study of political history introduces the concept of cultural revolution, the process of man-made changes to the world. Students examine artifacts, man's migration and the establishment of nationalism. Children locate old and new civilizations on maps. They discuss the problems man faced in each civilization and how these problems differ in each historical era. Discussions of how religion and art developed help emphasize the development of civilization.
Teaching children italic handwriting is logical because the printed and cursive forms have the same letter shapes. Once a child masters the printed italic, he or she can quickly master cursive italic by connecting the ending strokes (serifs) of the individual letters. This strong similarity between formal and cursive letters makes it possible for students to master cursive writing earlier than if other methods were used. Skinner has received international recognition for its italic program.
Skinner Elementary Montessori has developed its own phonetic French program modeled on the phonetic approach of the Montessori method. After a year or two of French phonetics, the students are ready for beginning conversational French and more advanced grammar. Skinner has received national recognition through the National French contest. More about the French program.
Geography (Physical & Political):
The Montessori method breaks geography into two areas: physical and political. In physical geography, children learn about land and water formations, as well as the workings of the earth's elements upon these. Experiments in erosion, the three states of matter and changes in the earth's crust reinforce the students' learning by giving them sensorial as well as intellectual stimuli. Global maps are introduced first, then hemispheres, continents and countries. Students learn about world trade, imports, exports and natural resources. The needs of men food, shelter, clothing, defenses and transportation are represented in such a way that the child understands how these basic needs are culturalized and why different cultures meet these needs differently.
Most of us were introduced to arithmetic as an abstract, intellectual concept. The Montessori method calls for a sensorial approach, initially. These materials are used to introduce the concept of the decimal system. Children progress through the basic rudiments of mathematics from addition, multiplication, subtraction, division, fractions and weights and measures at their own speed. This same approach helps the child move on quickly to the more advanced concepts of squaring, cubing, square roots, non-decimal bases, algebra and geometry.
The three steps to understanding music are absorption, exploration and composition. Absorption is best accomplished through watching and listening. Exploration is accomplished through imitation, singing and directed lessons. Composition occurs when the child puts the elements of music (rhythm, pitch, intensity and tonal quality) together. A combination of the intellectual and sensorial approach helps the child move to this final state. The understanding of the basic elements of music leads naturally to the discussion of the same elements in poetry and language.
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