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.
The Grosse Pointe Academy’s Early School is the longest continuously operating Montessori program in Michigan. Dr. Maria Montessori’s philosophy advocates the belief that early childhood education should cultivate a child’s desire to learn. Children are given the freedom to explore the excitement of learning on their own while given assistance in perfecting individual talents.
The Early School Montessori curriculum and environment are designed to maximize your child’s potential during the ages of two and a half through Kindergarten. Life skills such as confidence, social relations, care of the environment, and development of motor skills, along with concrete, hands-on activities, lead to the child’s ability to process abstract information in later school years. Developing productive work habits early helps to lay a foundation of learning for the future.
The practical life area provides a foundation for your child’s work habits and helps develop courteous behavior. Ground rules and good manners are introduced as part of the curriculum. Activities are structured to help your child satisfy his or her need for meaningful activity and to develop good work habits. Students perform familiar tasks: washing, polishing, pouring, spooning, and cutting to develop concentration, large and fine motor coordination, order and independence.
The sensorial materials in the Montessori classroom help refine the senses and are an indirect preparation for your child’s future study of language, writing and mathematics. Visual discrimination is developed by building, matching, and patterning graduated blocks and cubes, color tablets, geometric shapes, and a variety of up-to-date materials. There are materials for auditory, olfactory, and tactile discrimination.
The Language Arts program develops the children’s understanding of spoken and written language. Literature, poetry, conversations, and the directress’s use of vocabulary during daily presentations enriches the child’s understanding of language. Each child progresses at his or her own rate. Preparation for reading begins indirectly with daily readings to the class and more directly through activities that make the student aware of the sounds in words. Letters of the alphabet are introduced phonetically. Once a child has mastered a number of sounds, the moveable alphabet is introduced for spelling phonetic words. The process continues until the directress recognizes readiness for decoding words.
There are supplemental materials for developing language skills. Each classroom has a selection of pre-language materials, preprimers, beginning amd more advanced reading books. Each child progresses at his or her own rate.
The Mathematics program provides children with a beginning foundation for a lifelong appreciation and understanding of mathematical principles. The Montessori program uses concrete materials to develop understanding of quantity and symbol, the decimal system, linear counting, and the math processes. Children begin by counting objects, rods and beads. Sandpaper numerals are introduced 0-9. Numerals and beads, number chains and boards with tiles 1-100 are used to increase the understanding of numbers. The sequence of the mathematic materials follows a progression from concrete to abstract. Addition and subtraction are introduced as processes which your child practices using a variety of materials. There are materials and activities for time, money, measurement and geometry.
Geography and Social Studies
The Geography and Social Studies area helps children begin to understand their relationship to the world geographically and culturally. Globes, puzzle maps and landform models are used regularly. Children develop an appreciation for other cultures and an understanding of the historic past.
The Science program gives your child the opportunity to explore and discover through the use of materials and experiments. The program is designed to develop thinking skills as well as an appreciation for all living things and the earth. Experiments, extensive Montessori materials, puzzles, cards and booklets allow your child to make independent discoveries. Activities encourage development of scientific and organizational skills and allow the children to differentiate the senses. By observing, estimating, predicting and drawing conclusions, each child begins to study the world in a more systematic manner. Each classroom includes an array of artifacts and pets.
World Language – Course Description
The Grosse Pointe Academy Early School, conducted in the Montessori tradition, recognizes that from birth to age six, children are extremely sensitive to language. This is the best time to introduce the enriching experience of a second language to your child. The Academy’s Early School French program will give your child an opportunity to learn vocabulary and culture in a hands-on environment with music, active physical participation, and storytelling. This process helps establish the foundation for all learning skills.
The Early School Physical Education program, developmental in nature, encourages cooperative play through the introduction of organized games and physical activities. The program focuses on not only the physical aspects of your child, but also his or her social, intellectual and psychological growth. Emphasis is on motor skills, object control, fitness and developing such personal and social skills as following directions, demonstrating cooperation, compassion and best effort, and acquiring space and body awareness.
The Early School music curriculum encourages participation in singing, reciting rhymes, and poetry. Combined with movement, this program will help refine large motor skills and encourages each student to interact as part of a group. Songs, drums, stories, recorded music, finger plays and nursery rhymes all contribute to the child’s introduction to singing and pitch, rhythm, beat and patterns.
Creative Movement – Course Description
The Early School Creative Movement classes for four and five-year-olds in the afternoon program reinforce physical skills, introduce new skills, provide an introduction to dance as a tool of expression, illustrate problem-solving alternatives, and reinforce classroom academics. Each class has six short segments: problem solving, dance skills, concept/theme, gross motor movement, application of vocabulary, and creative expression.
Art Studio – Course Description
The Kindergarten art program is organized around three interrelated themes: creating art, looking at art, and living with art. The program encourages exploration, creativity, and self-expression. The emphasis is on developing basic visual art skills, vocabulary and concepts that encourage self-confidence. Each child will have the opportunity to use a vast selection of materials within a studio environment. Lessons often parallel and support other academic studies, providing cohesive learning. Children are introduced to the multicultural world of art through prints, posters and books and various forms of technology.
Three and Four-Year-Old Extended Day Program
The Extended Day program for three and four-year-old children is designed for those who have attended the Early School morning sessions. This extension of the Montessori program provides an afternoon of social interaction, play activities, arts and crafts, supervised food preparation, and outdoor activities. Each child is allowed to choose his or her own play activities. The program includes creative movement class (for 4 year olds), supervised lunch, rest and recess periods.
The Five-Year-Old Extended Day program offers an extension and enrichment of the Montessori curriculum. Each child will have the opportunity to explore and participate in a variety of activities and group projects. Special classes in creative movement and art are unique to this afternoon session. The Extended Day Program also provides additional opportunities for socialization.
Early School Three-Day Program
The Early School Three-Day Program is offered to two-and-a-half-year-olds and young three-year-olds. The program focuses on several development goals: to help your child develop a positive self image, to trust others, to develop independence and a sense of natural order, and to establish an awareness of his or her surroundings. Opportunities for success and accomplishment are built into each day to promote confidence and a positive school experience.
The Three-Day Program has its own unique set of age appropriate rules and regulations. The program strives to fill the fundamental emotional needs of young children by providing a nurturing environment, consistency, and order to his or her daily routine.
Each child will be involved in group activities, dramatic and creative play, storytelling, singing, music and appropriate Montessori activities. Children will be given time to explore and to experiment independently. The classroom offers students an abundant and varied assortment of Montessori equipment.
Faculty members are selected for their Montessori certification, training in early childhood education, experience and ability to teach young children, and concern for the education of each individual child. The Early School is a Full Member of the American Montessori Society and is licensed by the Michigan Department of Social Services.