The GOWC literacy framework is designed to allow the child to practice skills that will lead to greater independence and self-control. This area provides the child with the opportunity to engage in tasks associated with the real world of home, garden, and self- care. This work allows the child to develop concentration and attention to detail. Fine motor skills are honed, as the child gains a sense of satisfaction that comes from completing a task. They develop a deep joy for caring for themselves, others, and their environment. There are four distinct groups of practical life exercises:
- Care of the person. Children learn hand washing, fastening buttons, zipping, tying, combing, and other personal hygiene skills. First children have to take care of themselves, and then reach out to the environment. We help guide the children to gradually develop independence from their parents.
- Care of the environment. With these exercises, children take responsibility for the space they use and enjoy. WBLC classroom is kept clean and tidy and the children are, in large part, responsible for its maintenance.
- Grace and Courtesy. Through classroom activities and modeling by teachers, children develop the necessary skills for conversation, conflict resolution, greeting and thanking. By participating in Grace and Courtesy exercises, children learn to positively interact and to problem solve.
- Concentration and Coordination. The exercises in practical life are among the first presented. These preliminary exercises include pouring, using tools, opening, and closing bottles, folding, and matching. These lessons help the child develop his/her gross and fine motor skills as well as develop concentration. There are exercises that are essentially designed for this purpose, such as walking on the line and the silence game.
We believe that nothing exists in the intellect that was not first experienced in the senses. The materials in the sensorial area are designed to help children sharpen their senses by isolating particular qualities such as size, shape, composition, color, flavor, smell, pitch, texture and weight. Each of the materials in this area is autodidactic and allows the child to work at their own pace with minimal interruption from the teacher. Children enjoy working with these materials repeatedly
and often develop their own variations on the standard lesson.
Language is an integral part of the entire GOWC curriculum. Stories, songs, poems along with conversations with adults and peers help children increase their vocabulary and develop oral language skills. Written language is taught through a specific progression of lessons that engage the senses–children learn letters and sounds through seeing, hearing, and touching them–and through immersion in a linguistically rich classroom environment. Children first learn the phonetic sound of each letter. Using inviting, hands-on materials the children progress by classifying objects based on their sounds and then begin putting these sounds together to create words. Once they have learned to create their own words, reading follows quickly. The children work with increasingly more challenging materials.
As they progress with their reading, the focus turns to comprehension and grammar. With the development of language, children develop a greater ability to organize their thoughts and express themselves.
The materials in the math area are designed for the development of a concrete understanding of abstract mathematical concepts. The hands-on materials in the math area help the child sequentially progress from basic comparisons of different quantities and their numeric symbols, through addition and subtraction and on to the combination of numbers, multiplication, division and fractions.
The objective of science in the Montessori classroom is to develop each child’s natural sense of wonder and invite them to find answers to some of their “Why’s”. Each classroom contains many materials with which to explore various aspects of science.
vi. Geography and Cultural Studies: We believe it is important to study what humans have in common to instill in the child a greater sense of belonging to the universe. By examining the similarities and differences of humans around the globe, we build a sense of connection to all human beings. Children in WBLC classroom begin by looking at the world as a whole. Children are first introduced to the ideas of air, land, water, and continents. They then begin the study of local regions, cultures, and geography of the United States and all the continents. Colorful puzzles provide extensive hands-on exploration of world geography. Boxes containing a variety of items from each continent give the children a concrete link to peoples in other lands. Students at WBLC come from a variety of rich cultural backgrounds. This allows us a unique way to introduce students to other cultures and customs and to study countries in a variety of different ways.
vi. Civics and Culture:
vii. Special Offerings: Students also experience art, music, languages, and physical movement as part of the holistic approach. Regular singing, movement, and use of musical instruments are offered to all preschool children in both large and small groups.