Preschool/Pre-K/Kindergarten (Ages 3-6)
“Little children, from the moment they are weaned, are making their way toward independence.”
— Dr. Maria Montessori
The Early Childhood Program at Montessori Family School is located at our Berkeley Campus and nurtures young children’s quest for independence. They learn to control themselves physically and refine their gross and fine motor abilities. Cognitively, they have the opportunity to explore a broad range of Montessori materials, including those that provide them with a solid foundation for beginning reading, and learning basic math concepts. They also learn to become part of a community, make enduring friendships, and learn to socialize harmoniously.
In the Classroom
MFS classrooms are all multi-age, with Early Childhood classrooms serving children who are 3, 4, and 5 years old. The third year—for the 5 year-old turning 6—is the “kindergarten” year. The multi-age classroom provides an environment in which children can move at their own pace, and be both learners and teachers at the same time.
Each classroom has two full-time, trained Montessori teachers, with no more than 21 students. Most teachers have been with the school for many years.
MFS provides before-school care from 8:00am-9:00am each morning, and afterschool classes from 3:00pm-6:00pm. The regular school day runs from 9:00am to 3:00pm, although some of the youngest children attend for just the first part of the day, leaving at noon. They can begin going for the full day when the time is right. MFS also offers vacation-week and summer programs, each specially designed to provide opportunities both to have fun and to learn, while meeting the needs of working parents.
Schedule of the Day
Children can start in Beforeschool Care as early as 8:00am. Children arriving for the regular school day can be dropped off between 8:45am-9:00am. We have a designated drop-off area, where a teacher or staff member will be waiting to greet children. A teacher or staff member will walk students into their classroom.
Students begin the “work period” in the classroom at 9:00am and this continues until lunchtime. During the work period, children can eat snack, visit our cultural studies area, work individually, in a pair, or in a group doing different activities.
Lunch begins at 11:30am and continues until 1:15pm. Students have time to eat their lunch and get substantial outdoor time on our large play yard. Those students that stay for a 1/2 day will be picked up by a parent/caregiver between 12:00pm-12:30pm. Children who nap will go down to the nap room between 1:00pm-1:15pm.
The children come back into the classrooms after lunch and those students who do not nap will have a quiet time. During quiet time the children may listen to music, hear a story read out-loud by a teacher, or read to themselves. Quiet time last for about 45 minutes.
In the afternoon, students will have another work period, until 3:00pm when regular classes end. Students who are picked up at 3:00pm will be escorted by a teacher or staff member to our drop-off/pick-up area until their parent/caregiver arrives.
Students may be in Afterschool Care until 6:00pm. Afterschool is fun and engaging with activities set-up and free play on our yard. Spanish is also integrated into the Afterschool curriculum.
Studies by Maria Montessori and contemporary researchers support the notion that a child’s first three years of life, and next three years of education outside the home, are the most important in shaping his or her personality and ability to learn. Children learn more during this period of time than at any other, and set important patterns for the future. Skills learned become the foundation that helps them grow in independence.
Each of our preschool classrooms are divided into five distinct areas, each of which is devoted to learning about a particular subject. There are separate places for children to engage in practical life studies, cultural studies, sensorial studies, and learn about language and math.
Practical Life Studies
Practical Life teaches children to take care of themselves and their physical environment. They prepare their own snacks, learn to tie their own shoes and zip their jackets, and clean up after themselves. The desire of the preschool child is “to do it myself.” Practical Life activities are designed to allow them this independence. All of these activities take place in an environment that nurtures the whole child and supports their natural curiosity and love of learning.
In the Montessori system, cultural study encompasses the traditional disciplines of social studies and science. In the Early Childhood program, cultural study materials cover geography, anatomy, botany, zoology and simple physics. Children study the solar system, the earth and its layers, the animals and plants that live on the surface of the earth, and the rich history of different cultures. Maps that are puzzles, flags from different nation, songs, music and foods from around the world support cultural studies.
The language materials allow children an eclectic array of hands-on learning experiences, exploring phonics, linguistics and sight words. The materials are kinesthetic, auditory and visual, appealing to the multi-sensory modes that children use to acquire information.
The Montessori math materials are used in educational settings around the world. They are concrete manipulatives that give each child the opportunity to have a physical experience of mathematics that allows tem to move into abstraction with a real foundation and understanding of math and its underlying concepts. There are materials for counting to 1000, materials made from golden beads that help them to experience place value, materials for learning beginning addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and fractions as well as problem solving.
Children live in a world of senses, and the Montessori sensorial materials enable children to clarify, sort, classify, and comprehend their world. Through sight, touch, sound, taste, and smell, these materials “throw a spotlight” on reality and play a key role giving children concrete examples of abstract terms. These materials also provide a basis for the development of other skills such as mathematics and language.