Learning by Exploring
Walden offers several schedule options for our preschool program, ranging from 3 half days to 5 full days, and a full-day Kindergarten program. All are specifically designed to translate children’s natural curiosity and energy into learning.
Children intently work with beautifully designed hands-on materials. Earlier lessons such as pouring water without spilling, buttoning a shirt, or recognizing shapes, colors, and letters build naturally into more complex lessons including arranging letters into words, understanding the power of ten, or drawing a map of the world.
As children advance, so do their activities, preparing for abstract thinking and building a foundation for a lifetime of understanding. During their Kindergarten year, they internalize and reinforce their earlier experiences, they master more advanced math, reading, and writing skills.
As a result of being in the same classroom for three or four years, children have the unique opportunity to experience learning as both the littlest learners and as leaders and teacher helpers in their classroom. The confidence children feel as a result of this experience readies them for their next educational experiences.
Children in preschool have the opportunity to visit the library for instruction, fun and new book selections and head to the music studio to enjoy dance, song and introduction to instruments weekly. In kindergarten, opportunities expand as students participate in a formal art class along with a physical education class each week.
In the Montessori classroom all activities are referred to as “work.” The word work is meant to have the same positive meaning as the word play. The idea is to help the child understand that these activities are an enjoyable experience in which learners take pride.
The preschool Years
The preschool program centers around a safe and nurturing environment prepared for Walden’s youngest students. Each classroom is guided by an experienced Montessori teacher and assistant and is vertically age grouped, with children from ages 3 - 6 in each. Hallmarks of Walden's unique brand of Montessori are a beautifully curated classroom environment, a low student-teacher ratio that allows for individual attention, and a focus on community. Children are engaged in appropriately challenging Montessori work, which leads to independence, self-direction, and learning growth. One classroom (PK3) is designated specifically for our littlest learners (ages 2.5 - 3 years old by September 1, 2022) as a small class “soft launch” into a more vertically grouped Montessori preschool classroom the following year.
The Kindergarten Year
A primary goal in the Montessori classroom is to foster a love of learning! To that end, it's beneficial for children to develop their own work flow and individual pace for their day, and learn to balance liberty with discipline.
There are many ways to support young students in making good decisions, and in December of the kindergarten year, we introduce weekly Work Plans as a means to plan and keep track of their work. It fosters many skills that they will need for their future years of learning. Friday is a day to complete unfinished work, fill in empty areas and organize work folders. Work Plans go home each Friday so you can discuss them with your child.
During the second half of the year, fractions, time, money, measurement, bead chains (the squares and cubes of numbers), the decimal system, complex math operations, animal and science research and grammar are introduced to the kindergarten students.
As kindergarten children go through this year, the key is to increase their liberty or freedom, gradually over time. The important thing is that children are given some freedom as a 5 year-old, 6 year-old, etc. so that by the time they are 12, they can handle making good choices!
The process of balancing liberty with discipline is a long one. It's not something that is perfected in a day, a week, or a month. Seeing a long-term goal puts into focus the day-to-day choices; just as we as adults are continually growing and changing, even more, children are a work in progress!
The end goal - that of a child who is a mature, independent adult - will be characterized by innate discipline. Most people will follow rules when being observed or graded, but the true test of character is what a child does when left alone. When a child can make good choices when no one is looking, you can know that the combination of liberty and discipline is in perfect alignment!