The most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to the age of six. For that is the time when man’s intelligence itself, his greatest implement is being formed. – Dr. Montessori

The 3 to 6 year-old child possesses what Maria Montessori called an “absorbent mind”. This type of mind has the unique and transitory ability to absorb all aspects (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual) of the environment, seemingly without much effort or fatigue. During this period, children are like little sponges, using all their senses to soak up information from their surroundings. This is the time where the intelligence is directed inwardly in an act of self-construction; and periods of development, where the intelligence is directed outwardly toward increasing knowledge, information, and experience in the world. During this period, children experience their environment mainly through touch. The experience becomes a part of them, it is “absorbed” by the mind – not memorized or learned. The Montessori Casa program is specifically designed to nurture this extraordinary capacity of absorption and to meet the needs and interests of children between 2 ½ and 6 years-old.

Our Casa classrooms are being conducted by Montessori- trained teachers with special qualifications for the casa level, and teacher’s assistants help with classroom management. The Montessori head-teacher acts as a link between the children and their surroundings. The teacher guides each child to purposeful activities, based on his / her stage of development and learning style. With repetition and exploration of activities, children acquire concepts and skills, while strengthening concentration, joy for learning, motivation and self-discipline.

The Casa Montessori environment is prepared for the multi-age grouping of children with learning materials appropriate for each age. The younger children observe and are assisted by their older classmates when needed. On the other hand, the older students have the opportunity to guide their younger classmates and feel proud of their contribution to the classroom community while reinforcing their own learning. This provides a supportive, family-like, social grouping where learning can take place naturally.

Within our casa environments, you see children pursuing their interests with a variety of purposeful materials, a great deal of movement, an incentive for concentration, and a blend of self-discipline and freedom – all in a orderly space especially designed to meet the children’s needs. At a glance, you may see a three-year-old child washing clothes, while a four-year-old is composing words with a movable alphabet, and a five-year-old is in the process to solve an addition problem. All this, while a child is reading in the library corner, another is doing a watercolour painting, and a small group is working with the geometric solids. In an atmosphere of non-competition, the child’s independence, self-motivation, and satisfaction increase dramatically from doing the activities they do.

At Parkdale Montessori School, casa children are exposed to English in the mornings and French in the afternoons, which is particularly important in the National Capital area.

Each day (weather permitting), the children spend time outside in our equipped playground or in our large neighbourhood park. In the spring and early fall, children go on picnics and nature walks. Each term, children are also offered the opportunity of going on an outing. Typical field trips include museums, the experimental farm, plays, etc.

Curriculum

Each day, the children are given time and opportunity to engage either individually or in small groups in various activities, which are integral of the Montessori Casa program. The children are presented an array of materials, and they are introduced to all aspects of the world to cultivate their own natural desire to learn.

Practical Life: 

These activities include tasks children see as part of the daily routine in their home, such as preparing snack, sweeping, arranging flowers, etc. To each child, these are meaningful activities that involve caring for themselves, others and the environment. Through those activities, children develop fine and gross motor movement, muscular coordination, hand-eye coordination, concentration, and they learn to complete a task from beginning to end.

Sensorial: 

Children learn about the world around them through the use of all of their senses, which then educate the intellect. The purposes of the sensorial exercises are to enable children to manipulate, differentiate, order and classify impressions by touching, listening, seeing, tasting, and smelling.  These materials also help children to form mental images of concrete objects, paving the way to abstract thinking.

Language:

The environment provides rich spoken language, through conversations, stories and poetry. The use of specific materials helps children to link sounds and letter symbols. As the children are aware of the phonetic sounds, and can link them together, they progress on reading phonetic words. The children are then introduced to phonograms and sight words. Eventually they become fully literate. The language program also emphasizes on grammatical structure, function of words, cursive writing, and creative writing.

French:

At Parkdale Montessori School, we take advantage of the children’s early years and their incredible capacity for absorption to introduce oral French. In order to respect the principles of the Montessori Method, we do not “teach” French during “formal lessons”or “circle time” at the Casa level. Instead, we introduce a second language in a very natural way into daily activities – French is simply in the air in the classroom every afternoon. Each afternoon, teachers converse in French with each other and the children in an informal manner. Children are introduced to new French vocabulary around classroom activities and classified cards, as well as by way of stories, songs, and poetry.

Mathematics: 

Children are introduced to sensorial impressions of numbers, decimal system and its function, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Children are first introduced to quantity, then symbols, followed by the association of both quantity and symbols. Once children understand the concept of numbers from 0 to 10 in a very fundamental way, manipulation comes easily. Addition and subtraction are introduced in logical, concrete way. Once these concepts are well understood, multiplication and then division are introduced. Later, children explore and memorize addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division tables, using specific tools. Following that, children only work with pencil and paper as they move on to more abstract materials, such as mathematical problems.

Cultural Studies:

Cultural materials are presented as extensions of the sensorial and language activities. These activities are used to broaden children’s experiences and draw their attention to various aspects of the world around them.

Geography:

The geography materials provide children with the opportunity to classify the world into continents, countries, provinces, states; each with their own particular shapes, names, capitals and flags. Geography activities also aid children developing a foundation of global awareness and a respect for all cultures.

Science:

The science materials provide children with exposure to basic leaf shapes, parts of the leaves and the flowers, life cycles, animals and their parts, etc.

Art and Music:

The comprehensive art and music programs give children the opportunity to enjoy a variety of creative activities, as well as gain knowledge of the great masters.

Movement:

Movement contributes not only to the physical but also to the intellectual development of children.

Outdoor activities: 

In our large and secure garden area designed to encourage social interaction, laughter, exercise and hands-on study of natural sciences, children participate in taking care of the outdoor environment, such as gardening, growing vegetables, raking, or pulling weeds. They experience the full life cycle of the garden using child-size gardening tools and the basic building blocks: sun, soil and water.

Schedule

Morning  (in English)
8:30 Casa children morning arrival.
8:30 to 11:30 Morning cycle and snack time.
11:30 Morning children leave and full-day children gather for lunch.
Afternoon   (in French)
11:30 to 12:30 Lunch and preparation for outside play.
12:30 to 1:30 Outdoor play time.
1:30 to 3:30 Afternoon cycle and snack time. For nappers: nap time and snack time.
3:30 Children gather their belongings to go home or to aftercare.

Testimonials

"Our daughter and son have both had the benefit of the caring and nurturing learning environment at Parkdale Montessori School.   Our daughter started at 2 and a half years old and has had the consistency of the same teacher for 4 years in the Casa program.   There’s no doubt that she’s had a great head start and will be well prepared for Grade one.  How wonderful it is to hear our 5 year old girl tell us that math is her favourite subject and that she enjoys subtraction!"  - Donna and John

"Parkdale Montessori has provided our son with a warm and caring environment to explore his interests and develop new ones. As parents, we appreciate the efforts his teachers have made to get to know him and work with him to bring out his unique strengths. " - Kelley

"My daughter started at Parkdale Montessori when she was 2 and a half years old. She has continued through to her kindergarten year. We have been extremely happy throughout the three years and so has our daughter. The most significant aspect of her stay has been the relationship that she has developed with her head teacher. The teachers and assistants of Parkdale Montessori have provided a caring,  safe, happy, and nurturing environment in which to learn. Each September my daughter has been happy to be back at school.  My daughter's trust and affection for her teacher has allowed her to develop self confidence, love of reading, and a passion for learning. My daughter has learned conflict /resolution, manners, leadership, care of the environment, and respect for the other children and teachers. When we are away from our child for the day, we are assured that she is in a loving place at Parkdale Montessori." - Maureen

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