The Montessori approach to education relies on an "integrated curriculum" in which there are no artificial boundaries between subject areas.
Materials, or "works" in the Montessori vernacular, are displayed in a progressive manner on open shelves so that one task leads to another. They are designed in a way that naturally calls to children and makes the child want to work with them with little or no encouragement from adults. These materials also are designed to have a built-in "control of error" so that children can check their own work. This idea also demonstrates to children that it is OK to make mistakes and encourages them to try again.
Art is an open-ended program that encourages freedom and self-expression within the structure of the form, nurturing creativity with discipline. The students are taught how to work with different medium. Art appreciation is taught throughout our program.
Geography and History
The youngest students work with specially designed maps and begin to learn the names of the world's continents, countries and landforms. The Elementary students learn to treasure the richness of their own cultural heritage and those of their friends. History is first introduced in measuring the passage of time through personal time lines, calendars and clocks. This prepares students for the Great Lessons of the elementary curriculum that illustrate the time line of the Earth and the laws of the Universe.
The Montessori classroom is a "language-rich environment" that fosters development of vocabulary, communication skills, writing and reading. Many Montessori students learn to write before they can read as the shape of the alphabet letter is introduced simultaneously with the sound. Students then move on to composing words, sentences and stories so that the process of learning to read is seamless and exciting. Every work in the classroom encourages the use of the three-finger grip necessary to hold a pencil and the children are given many opportunities to perfect fine-motor control needed for precise handwriting.
The central purpose of the math materials in the early years is to lay the foundation for later cognitive development and to prepare for the gradual transition to abstract thinking. Like all Montessori materials, they are designed to be hands-on. They introduce quantity before numerals and progress to early work with the decimal system. The math curriculum and materials are maintained through the elementary years and unified to include algebra, geometry, logic and statistics, concepts not normally introduced in the United States until secondary school.
Music is sung, played, appreciated and danced to in all of the programs. The proper playing of instruments is stressed at all times. The students perform several times a year for parents and friends. The appreciation of music is taught in all levels of the program.
The basis of all work in the Primary (ages 2 ½ -6 years) classroom, this area highlights real life tasks that foster order, coordination, concentration and ultimately, independence. The Practical Life area contains many attractively displayed objects familiar to the child, including a variety of items commonly used in the tasks of daily living, like eating, dressing and cleaning.
Students are guided through various activities and skills in order to develop and expand competency in five psychomotor skill areas: Locomotion, Throwing and Catching, Kicking, Team play and Fitness. Emphasis is placed on healthy cooperation, personal management in large groups and safety. The program is taught weekly at regularly scheduled time periods.
The Science curriculum takes advantage of a child's natural curiosity about nature and the way things work. The scope of the Montessori science curriculum includes a sound introduction to botany, zoology, chemistry, physics, geology and astronomy in the typical hands-on fashion.
Dr. Montessori considered sensory and manipulation not only an aid to the development of maturing sense organs (eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin) but a starting point for intellectual growth. The basic sensorial exercises inspire careful observation and call attention to specific qualities requiring identification of similarities and differences.
Teton Science School is a week spent annually at the Teton Science School's Kelly Campus near Jackson Hole. The resident campus allows the Upper Elementary students the opportunity to study Earth Science, Ecology and Biology in an hands on setting. The older students get a taste of what it is like to be a scientist in the wilds.
Chime Choir is a music reading, coordinated effort by the 3rd through 6th year students. They meet after school once a week. The choir provides opportunity to present music in the community as well as school programs.
4-H Club is ever expanding due to the wide variety of offerings. An arm of the University of Idaho Extension, 4-H entitles the participating children to exhibit their projects at the county fair held in the summer. It features cooking, sewing and other hand work, arts, crafts, archery, vet science and many, many others.
Chess Club is just what it sounds like: a group of students who like to play and learn about this ancient game of skill and strategy.