Curriculum

Dr. Maria Montessori instructed, “Follow the child,” and Compass Star Montessori’s curriculum is centered on this authentic Montessori model. Students are guided through core areas of study – math, language, science and history – while following their own interests and inspirations. A student who’s focused on the Paleozoic Era may practice his grammar on sentences describing the plants and animals of that time. A child with a flair for the dramatic may assemble a troupe to play out the “Dance of the Molecules,” or a historical event. A student who is drawn to the gardens may be challenged to plant the next crop of strawberries, including finding the area necessary for the number of seedlings she is given, staking the perimeter, and measuring the spaces between the plants.

The traditional Montessori Materials also draw the children in, making the work enjoyable, and solidifying the concepts being presented. By offering a wide range of possibilities, each child may find the spark they need to engage them in study. Our curriculum is conducted in a combined classroom, as is traditional in a Montessori setting. Students participate in both group lessons and individual lessons with the Guide (teacher), as well as practice the lessons and work with materials in order to meet the weekly goals they have set for themselves with the input of the Guide. The structure of the lessons and the design of the materials allows for the social needs of the Elementary child by providing opportunities for interaction and two-person works. This also gives students who are accelerating a chance to practice their leadership and teaching skills while allowing students who need more time on a lesson to review it with a stronger peer.

Cooperation, not competition, is emphasized as part of the community declaration to maintain Respect for Others and Respect for Self. A variety of interactive tools are used to engage the students: Bead frames, checkerboards, and racks and tubes guide them through the basic operations of arithmetic and emphasizing problem-solving. For language, we may utilize phonograms, grammar boxes and sentence analysis materials to teach reading, parts of speech and Montessori style diagramming. Literature selections may be used to segue into cultural subjects. If a child favors history but dislikes math, we may use historical timelines to lead the child through an exploration of numbers. The Montessori approach to teaching favors innate understanding and hands-on discovery over memorization.

“CSM provided Rana a good foundation for maintaining her curiosity and enjoying learning. We assume that she will adapt easily to any other learning environment.”

~ Jens K., CSM Parent

Elementary – Age 6-12

Math

The Montessori Math Curriculum has not changed for more than 100 years, yet it is still the most comprehensive way for a child to learn and understand place value and operations. It is based on the use of self-correcting manipulative materials to introduce and practice the concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and complex algorithms. The foundation is laid in the Early Childhood classroom where the child is presented with a simple tray holding a unit bead, a ten bar, a hundred square, and a thousand cube. From there she learns to associate numerals with the abstract concept of numbers and the idea of exchanging from one place value to another. After this concept is mastered, the world of math is opened up to the student and she quickly moves to adding numerals in the thousands. The progress through the materials is directly associated with the development of the child’s understanding of the materials, and once he has mastered the most concrete, he is moved to more abstract materials such as the stamps (tiles stamped with numerals and color coded for place value) and the bead frames (which have the same color coding as the tiles). The Elementary child continues to use these materials to work through more difficult equations, and increasing place value.

When it becomes developmentally appropriate, the child is presented with “big” equations as her focus is drawn to large works. The student primarily does math work at school due to the fact that until she reaches higher levels of Elementary, she requires the manipulative materials to help her “see” the work and integrate the process into memory. The use of materials is also included in fact memorization with bead chains and tiles to assist the child. By providing the concrete foundation for the child’s math education, the Montessori Method ensures the child has a firm understanding of math concepts before he transitions to using a calculator or computer to practice higher math.

Language

The most frequent question parents ask about the Montessori Language Curriculum is “How do you teach them to read?” The first focus in teaching a child how to read in the Montessori Method is teaching him to write. By introducing the child to letter formation and sound early on, he is able to communicate his thoughts with the written word. And while his first efforts are strictly phonetic, he is establishing the connection between the written word and sound which leads to the interpretation of new words. Once that connection is firing too fast for his hand, materials such as the Movable Alphabet are introduced to assist in the formation of words. Object boxes and beautiful pictures inspire the child to increase her vocabulary and delve into exception words that don’t follow phonetic rules. Spelling boxes grouped by rules include word exceptions, giving the child more practice in analyzing language.

Additionally, the Language curriculum is not bound to the shelves that contain Language works. Dr. Montessori believed in giving children names for everything and so the student’s exposure to language spreads across the entire learning environment. A child does not simply learn “triangle”–she learns “acute angled scalene triangle.” She is given names for bodies of water, bodies of land, continents, countries, states, and capitals. She learns the Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, and Species of animals. Language surrounds the child in the Montessori classroom and as she absorbs information she realizes the opportunities to use her language skills to become lost in fiction stories as well.

Science

Dr. Maria Montessori was first and foremost a scientist, and her passion spills over into the Science Curriculum. Students are introduced to science in a “big to small” order, going from large categories or concepts to smaller ones. Dr. Montessori also insisted on giving her students specific names for everything, and so the details of the Science curriculum are present from the first lessons. In the Early Childhood and Lower Elementary, students are first introduced to science by analyzing the difference between Living and Non-Living. Beautiful pictures of real things and animals are used to entice the students with this work, although they quickly move to the next material of Plant or Animal. From this material they learn about the difference between Vertebrate and Invertebrate and are then introduced to the Vertebrate Classification Chart. The students’ work with plants begins with the parts of the plant, the flower, and the leaf, with beautiful puzzles to assemble and label. After these works, more specific lessons on parts are introduced such as root types and parts, types and placement of buds and the cycle of photosynthesis. These are only the first lessons a child will experience with the Zoology and Botany works, and at the same time he will be presented with lessons on his own Place In The Universe, the Formation Of Galaxies, the Solar System and more.

Being a scientist and a Catholic, Dr. Montessori also believed in the scientific theories of the beginnings of the universe and with her son Mario, developed a story titled, “God with No Hands” to explain the concept to the child. The lesson now given is, “The First Great Lesson” and the students are introduced to it as a theory along with cross cultural creation stories and discussion about family beliefs. This lesson of the Universe not only introduces the child to the concept of the vastness of space but also natural laws such as gravity, states of matter, and attraction and repulsion of molecules. These laws are further inspected in lessons about the birth and death of stars, layers of the Earth and the Water Cycle. As the child progresses through the Science Curriculum she becomes more and more aware of the world around her and is inspired to ask questions that often prompt the response “That is a great research question!”

Practical Life

A confident and inquisitive nature is central to the development of a Montessori child. At Compass Star Montessori, threads of practical experience are woven throughout the traditional academic curriculum. Activities such as sewing, cooking and gardening promote self-reliance and respect of the universe, while field trips lead the students through discovery of our world outside the classroom. We also impart respect and discussion of the world’s religions and cultural practices, opening their eyes to the vast diversity in our world. Practical life studies are an important conduit in building an authentic Montessori education and way of life.

Early Childhood – Age 3-6 years

If your child or a sibling falls outside of the ages offered by Compass Star Montessori, CSM partners with and shares our facility with Inspiration Station. Inspiration Station is an Early Childhood Montessori program, serving students from three to six years of age.

The program is conducted in a combined classroom, as is traditional in a Montessori setting. Both Inspiration Station and Compass Star Montessori are guided by certified Montessori instructors. Inspiration Station is the perfect start for any student who will continue his or her education at Compass Star Montessori.

More information can be found at inspirationstationwichita.com.