- The Toddler Program
The Walnut Farm Toddler Community is a safe, secure, orderly environment. A Montessori toddler community is more than just a classroom; it is a home away from home for children ages 18 to 36 months. Our Toddler Community is an authentic Montessori environment that includes a nurturing social community where very young children can learn and grow as individuals or participate in cooperative groups with other children. The pervasive feeling of joy in the Toddler Community, as in all our Montessori environments, has its roots in "Freedom with limits", that is appropriate to a child's developmental abilities.
Simple sensorial activities in the classroom respond to the toddlers' urge to use all their senses - indeed their whole bodies - to explore everything around them.
- The Primary Program
The Montessori Primary program is an opportunity to nurture your child's individual development within the context of a group setting. He will emerge with a set of skills - social, emotional and academic - while, more importantly, knowing how to function within a group.
Your child has extraordinary powers of mind; she possesses a once-in-a-lifetime ability to simply absorb information and concepts from her surroundings, like a sponge. The Primary classroom, for children between the ages of two and a half to six, is designed to meet the needs of your child in this crucial phase of her life. Her experience in the classroom affects not only on the amount of knowledge and skill she will have at her command, but, more importantly, her attitudes toward herself, her world, and learning.
The environment for the children ages 3-6 years has been designated to give the children the "keys to the world." The children learn to care for themselves and their environment in the activities of practical life. Their senses are refined by the work in the sensorial area. Language materials introduce them to the sounds of the alphabet and word building, so they "burst" into reading on their own. Math materials introduce the decimal system to children by familiarizing them with counting, concrete materials for units, tens, hundreds and thousands and the four basic arithmetic operations. Geography and peoples of the world are introduced through puzzle maps, flag work, picture cards and cultural items.
- The Elementary Program
Montessori saw the second plane (ages 6 through 12) as the time to open up the world to the child, and she was determined to do so in a way that did not reproduce the intellectual fragmentation of traditional curricula - the practical consequence of which she believed to be the obscuring of interdependencies and interconnectedness, leading to an inability to truly understand the political and cultural reality of the modern world. Instead, Cosmic Education presents the world as a beloved place, a place where the children through inspired academic work also come to appreciate the ongoing story of humanity because they can begin to orient themselves in it.
Building on her insight into the importance of imagination in the elementary years, Montessori proposed to "present the universe to the child" in the form of an epic story. All elements of the curriculum would then be related to this story of the universe. In practice, this narrative is told as a set of five stories, the Great Stories of Cosmic Education.
Rather than following the traditional "structure of knowledge" by presenting facts as belonging to biology, zoology, botany, history, geography, physics, chemistry, religion, etc., the Great Stories present a holistic vision of knowledge, drawing on material from the various disciplines as needed. Characteristically, Montessori takes the children from the whole to the parts and back to the whole again. In this way, each academic area emerges naturally from the whole narrative and continually refers back to it.
Above all, Cosmic Education does not present the universe as random and objectified -- as something that has "just happened." Instead, the Great Stories tell of how each particle, each substance, each species, each event has a purpose and a contribution to make to the development of all others. Montessori also wants the child to understand the debt of gratitude that human beings owe to all other parts of the universe; for without them and their special contributions to the interconnected whole, we could not live.
- The Outdoor Program
The outdoor classroom provides a space for learning about nature and the practical life work of gardening, raking, weed pulling, and other outdoor tasks. With the direction of a credentialed Montessori guide, the outdoor classroom is rich in Science lessons such as bird watching and naming, insect and leaf investigations as well as rock classification. This outdoor prepared environment is available to our primary and elementary students. Each primary classroom has a back door which allows the children to flow in and out, making this a free choice throughout the morning work cycle. The elementary children have designated days and various responsibilities in the outdoor environment. In addition to their student roles, the elementary children serve as leaders of the school community and caretakers of the various gardens. The outdoor classroom is an exciting extension of our classroom environments.