Barrie Montessori: Divisions and Curriculum
Education begins early for Barrie’s youngest students, ages 18 months through 2 years. They learn together in four Toddler classrooms (up-the-hill, in Founders Hall and the Camp Building) These spaces are thoughtfully arranged with movement equipment, furniture, and attractive sensorial apparatus for exploration, with teachers facilitating a mixture of discovery and nurturing. Students work on developmentally appropriate skills that will prepare them for a variety of academic concepts. At this age, children learn best by doing. Hands-on activities solidify concepts and allow ample time for independent practice.
Toddlers are provided with a vibrant learning environment, rich with tactile activities that meet their developmental needs in the areas of independence, language, cognition, gross and fine motor skills, and social skills. Enhancing social skills, developing a positive attitude toward learning, and cultivating self-confidence as they master initial concepts are integral to this level. The goals of the toddler classroom are:
To provide a rich learning environment in which children are free to explore and grow academically, socially, physically, and emotionally
To cultivate self-confidence
To develop a positive attitude toward learning
To enhance social skills
To introduce art, music, and Spanish
To introduce students to the Montessori curricular areas of practical life, sensorial, math, language, and cultural studies
Special classes include Spanish, pony rides, music, and physical education.
Barrie Montessori’s Primary learning environments for three to six-year-olds (three in McDermott Hall and one in the Neubert Cottage on the upper campus) contain the curriculum areas typically found in a Montessori early childhood classroom: Practical Life; Sensorial; Art; Language (including Pre-Language); a class library area, Cultural (including Biology, History, and Geography); Math, and Peace.
These spaces provide our Primary students opportunities for independence and success in all areas. Teachers help students develop concentration and increase their enthusiasm for learning. Through hands-on work, students develop independence, confidence, and a love of learning, all essential to the formation of their intelligence and building the foundation for future success.
Children have an instinctive need for order, combined with a capacity to incorporate impressions from their environment. Primary classrooms are designed to optimize these characteristics. Hands-on materials are sequentially organized into curricular areas within which each item has its place. This enhances the student’s sense of order and provides a sense of security in the world upon which the child can depend.
Students are encouraged to choose activities based upon their particular interests and are introduced to new possibilities both by teachers and peers. A sense of responsibility is fostered, as students are encouraged to share materials, complete each activity, and return the materials in good condition for other children to use. The order of the classroom also assists the students in organizing the impressions that they are receiving by helping them create “mental file cabinets” for the efficient storage and retrieval of information. Special classes include art, music, physical education, and Spanish.
Lower Elementary classrooms are home to our first through third grades students (all in Rothschild Hall on the upper campus); the spaces reflect increased levels of independence and inquiry and intensified complexity of Montessori materials. These classrooms are adjacent to the Montessori Library in Rothschild, encouraging access to books/resources for student research.
Barrie’s Lower Elementary classrooms are three-year communities of six, seven, eight, and nine year-old children. This three-year cycle allows teachers to develop a deep understanding of each student and creates the opportunity to provide a comprehensive, individually focused education for each child. The multi-age setting develops nurturing, leadership, and mentoring skills in children and promotes a strong relationship with classroom teachers and peers.
In the Lower Elementary classrooms, children learn to set goals, organize work, and manage time. Children increasingly work in groups to foster social and cooperative skills. Although the elementary classrooms remain child-centered, instruction becomes more teacher-directed. Productive, independent work time encourages extended spans of concentration. In our Montessori classrooms, there are a variety of activities in process because of the different levels of interest and abilities.
The concentration and independence developed in the primary program, with the child’s emerging sense of success, directly impacts the confidence of our Lower School students. Confident learners seek challenges and increase their eagerness to learn about the world around them. Lessons that are rich in cultural content and scientific information provide the foundation for the integration of other areas of study. Appreciation of other cultures is reinforced each semester through continent studies that include individual research, stories, map-making, artifacts, cooking, field trips, and celebrations. Special classes include art, Spanish, physical education, outdoor education, library science, and music.
Barrie’s Upper Elementary program includes children in Grades 4 and 5 (accredited with non-traditional Montessori age groupings). Our Upper Elementary classrooms are two-year communities of nine to eleven year old children. This multiple year rotation allows teachers to develop a deep understanding of each student and creates the opportunity to provide a comprehensive, individualized education for each child. The multi-age setting develops nurturing, leadership and mentoring skills in children and promotes a strong sense of community between peers and classroom teachers.
At this age, students become increasingly aware of the environment beyond the classroom. We provide opportunities for these students to apply their skills in meaningful ways in school and with the larger community. Ethical choices emerge as a central issue: teachers model and encourage thoughtful citizenship, compassion, and leadership.
Students continue to refine the skills of goal setting, time management, and organization using a variety of resources. Special classes include art, Spanish, physical education, health, intramurals, library science, and music.