Learn By Doing
The environment and materials are designed for freedom of movement and work choice The purpose of the hands on materials is to help the child develop an internal sense of order that then frees them up for the greater work of contemplation.
The materials are often hands on and designed for repetition and mastery of various subjects. The child works with these sensory materials for years and because learning comes through the senses they are developmentally grounded and prepared for what is next to come in the great work of formation.
Beyond the Books
At JPGMA the “classroom” is called the “environment.” It is a place full of attractive hands on materials and resources that are ‘keys’ to the child’s education. Each material invites them to investigate what they are learning. They do this by going out of the environment and into the world to experience and observe more about what they are learning. They are encouraged to go on field trips or as we call them, “going outs” in order to interact with experts in the fields that they are studying.
Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon the young adults in the Middle School program spend those afternoons devoted to “Occupations.” The Occupations are the hands on approach that introduces them to areas such as, but not limited to, farming, engineering, law, mechanics, business, carpentry, equine program, etc. As they experience these occupations, trained professionals will guide them in connecting what they have learned in their lessons to the practical application in that specific occupation.
All lessons given at JPMGA have the goal of furthering the child’s salvation. Each staff member gives Montessori lessons in every subject in the following format:
- Review knowledge the child already knows in order to: put the lesson in context, review, and build upon prior knowledge.
- Introduce new material and vocabulary in a brief 3 period lesson.
- Some physical material is introduced to help reinforce the lesson.
- The material is presented in such a way that the child is involved.
- Each lesson has some extensions such as: the child continues to learn through practice and repetition with self-correction built in or the child is invited to create a work involving some knowledge presented in the lesson.
- The Staff follows through with the child to make sure that they have understood the concept from the lesson and have completed any follow up work. This is just as important as the child’s work.
Reading & Writing
Language development in the Montessori Method is supported by several hands on materials that stimulate communication and vocabulary development. It is a phonetic based program that will be heavily emphasized at JPGMA. In the Primary the children will work daily with sandpaper letters, the moveable alphabet, object matching games, and the Pink, Blue, and Green Montessori phonetic language material. Sometimes however these materials are not enough to assist the struggling reader. That is why we have hired a full time reading specialist to work in the Primary environment and assist in the Elementary environment. We are adding materials from the Barton reading and spelling method to assist children that need this extra approach. We view it as adding a new material for children who are showing us that they need more work in this area. All children in the Environment are taught how to write in cursive and we use the Sound Beginnings Method to teach them how to do this if they do not know it already.
Maria Montessori states, “Language is the most powerful instrument of human progress.” We can see in our culture today how much language is used to dominate narratives that promote untruths and disorder. It is time to take our Language back and form the next generation to be experts in this area. The three components of Language: spoken, written, and grammar are heavily emphasized at JPGMA and enriched by the systematic application of the Montessori materials and supplemental materials that we use. Student Oral Presentations are another important way in which they become the teacher and effectively learn how to communicate the information and knowledge they receive.
In our Montessori environment reading, writing, and vocabulary are everywhere. As students start writing sentences, we introduce the mechanics of punctuation, capitalization, where to place sentences on the page, and how to construct well-written paragraphs. The Grammar Boxes aid the children in the analysis of Grammar and development of interpretive reading. In addition to all the Montessori Language Materials we also use the “Barton Method” program as another material to assist in Reading and Spelling. This allows each child to progress at their own pace and guides them to read for meaning across a variety of subjects. All children in the Environment are taught how to write in cursive and we use the Sound Beginnings Method to teach them how to do this if they do not know it already.
Integrating Classical Literature with the creative process of writing, public speaking and grammar, the Reading and Writing program at the JPGMA Middle School and 10th grade program will result in an eloquent, logical student. Students will be challenged to identify language in its proper form, speak with succinct yet beautiful words, and write with concise and inspiring content. The study of Latin will reinforce analytical grammar, editing skills and spelling foundations, while writing excellent essays, love of poetry and spelling will increase through exposure to masterfully written works. Mrs. Hickson will lead the students through grammatical studies, Mrs. Cook will lead the students through Literature, and Mrs. Fidero will challenge the students with written Composition.
The study of Science allows the child to explore, orient, discover interrelationships, morally develop, and helps the child see God’s work in creation and man’s role in relation to this. There are several Nature Walks in Primary where the child is introduced to God’s work in nature and Biology. We give them the correct scientific nomenclature that allows the child to explore and observe more. Beautiful hands on materials in the environment introduce the young child to classify animals and plants based on their differences.
The Montessori curriculum covers the basic principles of Botany, Zoology, Chemistry, Astronomy, Geography, and Physics as well as placing each of these subjects in the historical context with which they were discovered. This hands- on approach prepares them for a lifetime of authentic discovery. The lessons in these areas are given in small groups and by individual lessons, research, and projects. There are incredible nomenclature materials that assist them with this. In the Elementary the Science curriculum is divided up into 3-year studies with various topics in these areas presented to the 6-9 years and then repeated again the next three years to the 9-12 years. Outside of this 3-year presentation model, the children are always free to independently study various areas of science as well as perform science experiments in our science area.
Creativity, foundational scientific process, and developmentally appropriate lab standards Science for the JPGMA middle school and 10th graded students will move through General Science, to Physical Science, and then on to Biology. Using an integrated approach, students will benefit from the support of the Apologia Science curriculum, and an innovative, hands-on, creative work period. In this work period, students will have Science Folders comprised of specifications and descriptive worksheets to follow the scientific method. Whether an experiment is investigated alone or in pairs, these folders will guide the student through the scientific process, under the supervision and teaching of Mr. Lamirande.
Math in Primary introduces the child with beautiful and precise hands on materials that engage the child’s senses immediately. They begin with the foundation of math that is numbers to ten. They are introduced to language, symbol, and quantity of each number from 0-9 with hands on materials. From this they continue onto the decimal system and begin the work of exchanging units for ten. They work on addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. They spend a long time working with teens and tens as well as exploring the memorization of tables of the 4 operations. Primary children also work with fraction materials and other materials that allow them to see the changes in order, sequence, and size.
The Mathematics covered in Elementary are: Arithmetic, Geometry, and Algebra. Mathematics is presented as a part of History and is given in the context of time and how we use math today. The environment is full on beautiful hands on math materials that take the child from basic addition and subtraction to cubing and algebraic operations. The Montessori Math materials show the child sensorially what the numbers and operations signify. They work with basic numeracy, fractions and decimals, the four operations of arithmetic to the millions, as well as measurement. The 6-9 year olds are grounded in concrete materials and as them move into the 9-12 year age several of them experience the transition from concrete to abstract math. Our students will also use a variety of methods to memorize their math facts for computational fluency. Our 9-12 years also use a supplemental Math-U-See program to assist them in their daily practice of Math.
Middle School and 10th grade students will use Math-U-See. This program will be augmented by the use of Montessori Math, where prostrations and materials will enable the child to use both the hands and eyes to understand concepts from pre-algebra through trigonometry. Mr. Cook will lead the students through mathematical studies.
For the young child the sense of time might be difficult for them to grasp. It the Montessori environment history is often presented informally in geography lessons as well as lessons that introduce the child to different cultures and peoples. All of this is presented in the light of our Loving Father in Heaven who created all that is good. There are diagrams and cards that show the fundamental needs of man and how our need to know, love, and serve God is at the center of all these needs. There is also a special emphasis on calendar, months of year, days of the week, reading time, and birthday celebrations. Each one of these areas are presented on beautiful card materials with pictures that gives the historical background.
Elementary and Middle School
At JPGMA we are reshaping the Montessori History curriculum by incorporating the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd timelines from the Atrium into the Academic Environment. As Sofia Cavaletti reflected, the History of Salvation is the history of all peoples and of each person as opposed to the histories that are limited in time and confined to the boundaries of specific countries. History is presented to the child annually in 3 periods: Year 1: B.C. (Creation up to Redemption); Year 2: A,D. (Redemption up to and waiting for Parousia); Year 3: Special focus on our State and U.S. History. Each period will have its unique focus that will always be grounded in the plan of God and will encourage several individual research projects, geography study, group timeline work., etc. We are currently using a collection of first hand and classical resources to build this curriculum. Also incorporated with each of the three historical periods are a list of 100 men and women who shaped the course of History for good or ill. Each week 4th years in Elementary up to High School will study these men and women. This upcoming year we will start with Virginia and US History.