CMS 6-12 (Primary) Program
Although it can sometimes happen, at CMS we quite rarely enroll students directly into the senior program. Our experience has been that once students progress to the senior cycles, the discipline and the nuances of Montessori learning become too much to grasp suddenly. Therefore, it is unfair to expect newly enrolled students to change systems of learning and to adjust to a program that their fellow students may have been practicing since the age of 15 months.
In a Montessori environment, all subjects studied are within the Australian National Curriculum and Montessori curriculum. There are ten key learning areas in a Montessori environment. Our school covers the eight traditional subjects – Language, Mathematics, Studies of Society and Environment (SOSE), Science, Technology, The Arts, Languages other than English (LOTE), Health and Physical Education (HPE) – and two learning areas specific to Montessori: Practical Life and Sensorial. Both of these areas support acquisition of information and practical skills. Some learning areas are defined as cultural subjects and form part of our integrated curriculum. Every term is introduced with a theme which usually starts with one of Dr. Montessori’s ‘Great Stories’.
Students learn to associate a concept with various subjects. For example, if students are studying planets, they will examine geography and at the same time work with mathematical equations, establishing sizes of planets, distances from Earth, etc. Language is also concurrently introduced by addressing differentiation of adjectives and genre writing. Technology may be introduced by asking students to complete digital presentation.
Children become aware that everything is connected and that their active participation in events can modify outcomes.
Within the Practical life area, students become familiar with looking after themselves and the environment. Control of movement and self-control are included in this learning area. They learn to complete personal tasks so they become independent of the adult and are able to recognise their own abilities and level of growth. Practical Life is one of the most important areas in a Montessori class.
As a toddler, they may learn to tie their shoe laces, whilst the older student organises the school assembly. Each stage of development is given opportunities to manage tasks that will enhance their personal development and their self-esteem.
The sensorial equipment is specifically designed for the younger students (3-6). This age group is learning through their own sensorial experiences and as such are attracted to activities they can manipulate, see, smell, taste or hear. The equipment identifies and refines the student’s visual, auditory, tactile, gustatory, olfactory and stereognostic (kinaesthetic) sense. Sensorial materials are presented to children to provide them with a means of refining each of their senses, for example Coloured Tablets allow the student to discern the slightest change of hue within colour, The Pink Tower shows differences in size.
The same materials are used with older students in a more cognitive way and by analysing the properties of the equipment, children gain specific academic understanding. Students manipulating these materials can clearly demonstrate their sensorial abilities or lack thereof and then be supported by the adults in the environment to achieve skills required.
Sensorial learning is optimal at any age and if a new concept can be presented addressing many senses, the information has a better chance of being stored in our long term memory.
The process of learning how to read should be as painless and simple as learning how to speak.
We begin by placing young students in classes in which the older students are already reading. All children want to ‘do what the big kids do’, and as the intriguing work that absorbs the older students involves reading, there is a natural lure for the younger children.
The student begins by learning the phonetic sounds of the alphabet, using their growing knowledge to read and write increasingly complex words and sentences. Mastery of the basic skills normally develops so smoothly that students tend to exhibit a sudden “explosion into reading”.
There is typically a quick jump from reading and writing single words to sentences and stories. At this point, we begin a systematic study of the English language: vocabulary, spelling rules and linguistics. We begin to teach the functions of grammar and sentence structure to students as young as 5 years old, just as they are first learning how to put words together to express themselves. This leads them to master these vital skills during a time in their lives when it is a delight, rather than a chore.
Often in this world, students learn Maths by rote without any real understanding or ability to put their skills to use in everyday life. Learning comes much easier when students work with concrete materials that graphically show what is taking place in a given mathematical process.
In Montessori, we use hands-on learning materials that help to make abstract concepts more clear and understandable. Students can literally see and explore what is going on. Our approach to teaching mathematics is based on research of Drs. Maria Montessori and Jean Piaget. It offers a clear and logical strategy for helping students both understand and develop a sound foundation in mathematics and geometry.
As an example, consider the very basis of Mathematics: the decimal system: units, tens, hundreds and thousands. Since quantities larger than twenty rarely have any meaning to a young child, Dr. Montessori reasoned that we should present this abstract concept graphically. Children cannot normally conceive of the size of a hundred, thousand or million: much less the idea that a thousand is equal to ten hundreds or one hundred tens.
Montessori overcame this obstacle by developing a concrete representation of the decimal system. Units are represented by single, one centimetre beads; tens are made up of a bar of ten unit beads strung together; hundreds are squares made up of ten bars; and thousands are cubes made up often hundred squares.
Together, they form a visually and intellectually impressive tool for learning. Great numbers can be formed by very young children. “Please bring me three thousands, five hundreds, six tens and one unit”.
From the foundation, all of the operations in Mathematics, such as the addition of quantities into the thousands, become clear and concrete, allowing the child to internalize a clear image of how the process works.
We follow the same principle in introducing plane and solid geometry to students, using geometric insets and three dimensional models which they learn to identify and define. The study of volume, area and precise measurement in everyday applications around the school is introduced in the early years and continually reinforced and expanded on.
This cultural area includes subjects such as history, geography, sociology, psychology, economics and others. Each subject can be related to the ‘Great Stories’ and integrated with all other learning. The materials designed to support SOSE are scientifically prepared and allow students to visually and practically experience the information to be learned.
We are all members of the human family. Our roots lie in the distant past and history is the story of our common heritage. Without a strong sense of history, we cannot begin to know who we are as individuals today. Our goal is to instill in our students a global perspective. The study of history and world cultures forms the cornerstone of that process.
With this in mind, we teach history and world culture at every age level. Students work with maps and begin to learn the names of the world’s continents and countries. Physical geography begins with the study of the foundation of the Earth, the emergence of the oceans and atmosphere and the evolution of life. They learn about the world’s rivers, lakes, deserts, mountain ranges and natural resources.
Students study the emergence of the first civilizations and the universal needs of Humanity. In later studies the students’ focus is on early man, ancient civilizations and early Australian history.
Dr. Montessori passed a deep love for the world of nature on to thousands of students through a program of outdoor education, gardening and camping experiences.
At CMS, it is our wish that students become fascinated by the universe and to honestly enjoy the process of discovering its secrets and interrelationships. We want them to observe, analyse, measure, classify, experiment and predict – and to do so with a sense of eager curiosity and wonder. The scope of our curriculum includes a sound introduction to botany, zoology, chemistry, physics, geology and astronomy.
The science area includes our botany and zoology programs and materials, as well as a science syllabus. The Montessori materials designed for this area are specific to our curriculum. Students start by identifying parts of plants and animals and work towards classifying the Kingdom Plantae and the Kingdom Animalia. All the work done in class is interactive and students manipulate specific didactic materials to acquire knowledge. Science is done through experiments and included in their research projects.
Technology was not a separate curriculum area a hundred years ago in the Montessori Curriculum, but was integrated into areas such as Science, History/Cosmic Studies (now called SOSE) and Practical Life (e.g. cooking). The Montessori curriculum has been expanded over the last century to keep up with changing technology, and Montessori equipment and materials have been updated to reflect these changes.
Not surprisingly, Dr Montessori did not design a digital technology syllabus, as this technology did not exist. Our school’s digital technology curriculum is based on the National Curriculum, with some modified outcomes to include our philosophical principles.
Students are presented all strands within Technology.
Children in a Montessori classroom explore the arts in a skills based atmosphere. The children’s senses are enhanced through the sensorial work that has been done in Cycle 1 and by the time they reach the senior program, it is time to use that knowledge in a practical sense to explore details of objects and examine how objects truly look, not just the stereotyped image.
The children in each Montessori classroom have a great passion for singing. Each year the children prepare for a concert or some type of theatre performance. This allows the children to develop the skills of singing and the confidence to perform in front of large audiences. The instrumental areas are enhanced by our purpose built equipment – the Montessori Bells and Bars.
Our Language program includes Italian lessons from a specialist teacher, taught through active, hands-on participation in everyday activities while speaking, reading and writing in Italian.
As Italian is derived from Latin, it supports students in acquiring English.
Our school understands the importance of physical development and the value of a good Health and Physical Education program within the school. From information provided by the Australian Sports Commission, it is now coming to light that young people who are physically active are healthier and fitter, are more co-ordinated and physically competent; often develop good social and people skills; develop leadership, teamwork and sound cooperative skills; work well and enjoy people’s company; learn better lifelong leisure skills and study and concentrate better.
Each year children participate in a Physical Education program that includes activities such as ball skills, fitness activities, dance and cross country. These activities are complemented by curriculum in the classroom.
The curriculum is enhanced by many excursions and incursions throughout the year particularly in the senior program. These include visits to museums and libraries and visits to the school by specialists and performers. Camps are also part of the curriculum with senior cycles attending a camp each year. This is also a compulsory part of our senior program.