About Elementary I & II Curriculum Language
Language

Children begin by learning the phonetic sounds of the alphabet and use their growing knowledge to read and write increasingly complex words and sentences.

We begin to teach very young children the functions of grammar and sentence structure to students as young as first grade, 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.

During the Elementary years, we increasingly focus on the development of research and composition skills. Our students write every day, learning to organize increasingly complex ideas and information into well written stories, poems, and reports.

Pre-Reading

Because of our multi-age classroom design, our youngest students are constantly exposed to the older children in the class who are already reading. The total environment of the Primary class (3 to 6 years-old) tends to create and reinforce in our young children a spontaneous interest in learning how to read. We begin to teach reading as soon as that interest is first expressed.

  • The children are helped to develop a sophisticated vocabulary and command of the language.
  • The children are taught through a variety of approaches to listen for and recognize the individual phonetic sounds in words.
  • We introduce the children to literature by reading aloud and discussing a wide range of classic stories and poetry.
  • We help our youngest students to recognize the shape and phonetic sounds of the alphabet through the sandpaper letters: a tactile alphabet.

Reading

  • Sounding out simple three or four-letter phonetic words.
  • Early exercises to practice reading: labeling objects with written name tags, matching picture cards to labels, creating word lists.
  • Reading specially selected or prepared small books on topics that really interest the child, such as in science, geography, nature or history.
  • Interpretive reading for comprehension at ever increasing levels of difficulty, beginning in the early elementary grades.
  • Use of reference books for both research and pleasure.
  • An introduction to the world’s classical children’s literature at increasing depth and sophistication.

Handwriting

Control of the hand in preparation for writing is developed through many exercises, including specially designed tasks in the use of the pencil. Such exercises begin with very young children and extend over several years so that mastery is gradually, but thoroughly, attained.

  • At first, by tracing letters into sand.
  • Later, by writing on special writing tablets
  • Cursive writing (elementary students)

Composition

Early tasks:

  • Preparing written answers to simple questions.
  • Composing stories to follow a picture series.

Elementary tasks:

  • Beginning to write stories or poems on given simple themes.
  • Preparing written descriptions and reports.
  • Learning how to write letters.
  • By age 9, research skills and the preparation of reports become major components of the educational program. Students research areas of interest or topics that have been assigned in depth, and prepare both formal and informal, written and oral reports.
  • Creative and expository composition skills continue to develop as the children advance from level to level. Students are typically asked to write on a daily basis.

Spelling

Children begin to spell using the moveable alphabet to sound out and spell words as they are first learning to read.

  • Learning to sound out and spell simple phonetic words.
  • Learning to recognize and spell words involving phonograms, such as ei, ai, or ough.
  • Learning to recognize and spell the “puzzle words” of English: words that are non-phonetic and are not spelled as they sound.

Elementary tasks:

Continued study of phonograms

  • Studying words: involving compound words, contractions, singular–plural, masculine–feminine words, prefixes, suffixes, synonyms, antonyms, homonyms.

Grammar

The study of grammar begins almost immediately after the child begins to read, during the sensitive period when he is spontaneously interested in language. It continues over several years until mastered. The idea is to introduce grammar to the young child as she is first learning how to put thoughts down on paper, when the process is natural and interesting, rather than waiting until the student is much older and finds the work tedious.

Early tasks

We introduce our children to the function of the parts of speech one at a time through many games and exercises that isolate the one element under study. The younger children gain the concept of a noun by labeling objects with written name tags and to recognize verbs by reading a card with a simple command printed out (such as run or sit) and demonstrate their understanding by acting it out. As their reading vocabulary increases, verbal commands involve full sentences and multiple steps: “Place the mat on the table and bring back a red pencil.” At this level, each part of speech is studied in a simple, concrete way. Montessori has assigned a geometric symbol to represent each element of grammar. (For example, verbs are represented by a large red circle.) The older children analyze sentences by placing the symbols for the appropriate part of speech over each word.

Elementary tasks

  • Once students have mastered the concrete symbols for the parts of speech, they perform more advanced exercises for several years with grammar boxes set up to allow them to analyze sentences by their parts of speech.
  • Sentence analysis: simple, compound and complex sentences, clauses, verb voices, and logical analysis of all sorts of sentences are studied using many different concrete materials and exercises.
 

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