Academics

Toddler Community (14months-3yrs)

The goal of the Toddler Community is to provide very young children with a learning experience away from home and parents; to foster self-confidence and a good self-image; and to develop a positive attitude toward learning.  Toddlers, ages 14 months to 3 years old, focus on learning to move their bodies, use language, and take care of their basic needs (e.g. eating, dressing, and using the toilet).

What makes a Montessori toddler program unique is the prepared environment.  Low shelving, toddler-sized furniture, and materials especially designed to entice each child’s individual developmental needs, allows the child to navigate through their environment.  The toddler community is carefully set up to be warm and inviting to these small explorers.

Toddlers are given the opportunity to imitate adult activity in a controlled and safe setting, which builds independence and self-esteem.  Time for developing independence is offered daily and includes activities such as care of self, meal preparation, care of environment, practical life skills, language exploration, fine and gross motor activities, exercises of daily living, art and music.

Finger plays, songs, movement and other creative activities all serve to craft a day of gentle rhythms and smooth transitions.

Children’s House (K3-K5)

Dr. Montessori called first plane of development the period of the “absorbent mind”.  Young children, ages 3 to 6 years old, are exploding into learning, gaining independence, and wanting to master skills by themselves.  The focus at this level is aiding the child’s development of personal responsibility and self-esteem through the use of practical materials.

Children begin learning practical life skills, developing their concentration, independence, fine and gross motor skills, and personal and community responsibility.  As students move through the three-year cycle, they engage in hands-on activities which provide them with the fundamentals of reading, writing, and grammar.  Through manipulation of concrete materials, they learn the decimal system and mathematical operations.  Children are introduced to physical and cultural geography through puzzle maps, pictures, books, and special presentations by parents and teachers.  The arts are woven throughout the curriculum to support our creative and interdisciplinary approach.  Social skills, as well as, the ability to make appropriate choices are taught through lessons in grace and courtesy and peer problem solving strategies.

In the Montessori classroom there is freedom of movement that enables the child to work alone or in a group with one or two others, at a table or on the floor, at any given time.  Within this environment learning occurs through discovery, exploration and in cooperation with others.

Lower Elementary (1st – 3rd Grade)

Whereas children from birth to age six are gathering facts, children in the second plane of development want
to know why, how, and when.  From 6 years of age, to age 9, students are introduced to cosmic education:  the understanding and exploration of the interdependence of everything in nature and space.  There is an eagerness to know and understand the reasons for things, to learn details about subjects, to explore moral questions, and to form close associations with others.

The Lower Elementary program builds on information presented in the Children’s House.  The curriculum is organized as a program of integrated studies, rather than the traditional school models, in which the curriculum is compartmentalized into separate subjects and topics for specific grade levels.  While ideas and concepts are introduced simply and concretely in the lower levels, they are expanded at increasing degrees of abstractions and complexity in the upper grades. When children are ready to enter the Elementary program, they begin to work with larger intellectual considerations.  It is an age of social awakening and social responsibility.  They insist on justice and fair play and need to have exact rules.  They search for the why, the how, and the when of things.

Dr. Montessori described the child at the elementary stage as having unlimited interests in our universe and their place in it. Therefore, we present students with all subject areas and allow them the freedom to explore the things that spark their imagination in as much depth as they desire. At least as important as the facts that are learned is the development of a rigorous questioning and investigative process within the child. Students learn what questions should be asked, how to think through problems, how to analyze situations and how to find answers for themselves.

While every child is required to meet the minimum standards set out by the State, no boundaries are set on the breadth or depth of their study. We find that our children easily meet standards without teachers having to teach to the test.

Upper Elementary (4th-6th Grade)

Between the ages of 9-12, children use the imagination, moving from concrete representation to abstract thinking as they seek to bring order to the various disconnected facts and ideas they encounter in the world.  They are able to think hypothetically.  Dr. Montessori believed it is also a time of great moral development.  No longer merely concerned with right and wrong, good and bad, the Montessori upper elementary student now seeks to understand the motivation behind behavior.  When confronted with moral issues, the upper elementary student seeks to imagine and develop possible solutions. The child’s education at the upper elementary level continues to promote development of his or her mental independence, as well as, the ability to manage the requirements of daily life with grace, confidence and effectiveness.  The structure of the classroom encourages a high level of self-discipline.  Research, independent study, and collaborative projects all teach children how to learn, not just what to learn. The Upper Elementary student is gently guided through the developmental leap from young childhood, toward emerging adolescence.  Our focus is on building the foundations of organization, self-confidence, cooperation, and curiosity; all  essential to success in Middle School and beyond. Our teachers provide academic challenges, while remaining respectful of the ever-complicated emotional responses of children as they deepen their understanding and empathy towards the world and its people.

Adolescent Program (7th-8th Grade)

The educational curriculum of Highland Community School’s adolescent program is firmly rooted in over a century of Montessori history, including nearly 45 years of Montessori education at Highland Community School. Located at Highland’s campus at 1706 W. Highland Ave., the adolescent program is composed of a 7th and 8th grade, multi-aged classroom.

Highland Community School strives to develop learners who produce work that is beautiful, intellectual, and substantial. The Adolescent Program Learner Profile is designed both as a gauge of student potential and development in Highland Community School’s adolescent program and as a set of principles to inform, define and measure the efforts of students and teachers.

Dr. Montessori described the child at the elementary stage as having unlimited interests in our universe and their place in it. Therefore, we present students with all subject areas and allow them the freedom to explore the things that spark their imagination in as much depth as they desire. At least as important as the facts that are learned is the development of a rigorous questioning and investigative process within the child. Students learn what questions should be asked, how to think through problems, how to analyze situations and how to find answers for themselves.

While every child is required to meet the minimum standards set out by the State, no boundaries are set on the breadth or depth of their study. We find that our children easily meet standards without teachers having to teach to the test.