The Montessori curriculum is rich with art, music, language, grace and courtesy, and physical education on a regular basis. In addition to the activities already embedded in the classroom, we have several arts specialists on staff who hold advanced degrees and have expertise in a field of study. They meet with faculty and provide direct instruction to students.
The school currently has specialists on staff in the areas of art, music, and Spanish, and social work and contracts with Strides for physical education.
In addition, the art curriculum is integrated into the Montessori cultural curriculum, including the Great Lesson on The History of Writing and our school-wide continent study. In our halls, you will often see art by our students. The school displays its artwork in the community through our annual participation in the Week of the Young Child celebration, an annual art show at a cafe in downtown Northampton and through Upper Elementary’s participation in The Daily Hampshire Gazette’s annual Create-An-Ad contest.
Elementary students participate weekly in gym classes with MSN staff member Kristie McLaughlin. This gives our students opportunities to participate in a variety of physical activities.
Kristie McLaughlin is an after-school teacher at MSN as well as a science teacher at Commonwealth Academy in Springfield, MA. She has experience facilitating high ropes courses, and leading and teaching rock climbing and paddling. She holds WFR (Wilderness First Responder) from SOLO and OEC (Outdoor Emergency Care) certifications from the NSP (National Ski Patrol) as well as being trained in CPR.
All students are involved in storytelling as a vehicle for learning language. New vocabulary is taught with the storied using a strategy called Total Physical Response (TPR). Students learn to associate a kinesthetic movement with new words and phrases. Upper Elementary students also begin to develop written language skills, working with the instructional materials such as worksheets and primary source materials.
The goal of the Kindergarten Spanish curriculum is to introduce the students to the Spanish language. Through the use of various teaching vehicles/methods such as song, movement, and games the expectation is that each student will come away with some familiarity with the Spanish language.
Music is vital and integral to the human experience. At MSN, music is woven naturally into the fabric of our daily lives. It is part of our classrooms and our community as a whole.
Each week, children at every level participate in music lessons that are engaging, creative, and developmentally appropriate. A variety of music activities for the youngest provide opportunities to explore creative movement, expressive singing, and classroom instruments while building confidence, curiosity, and listening skills.
For kindergarten and elementary age children, the curriculum sequentially covers areas such as music literacy, singing, music appreciation, solo and ensemble work, and playing instruments. The classes make use of the Orff, Kodaly, and Education Through Movement methods. Students grow cognitively in skill and appreciation but also as expressive, kinesthetic, and creative beings.
We are a singing school! The music we sing supports the Montessori learning of the world through a diverse repertoire of global and traditional music, contemporary songs, and original compositions. Our learning community sings in small and large settings, at school events, in celebration, and for the pure joy of making music together.
One of the arts we teach is the art of Grace and Courtesy. This curriculum area relates both to the peace curriculum and the everyday living curriculum. The lessons in grace and courtesy are designed to develop an awareness of oneself in relation to others, to advance the process of learning appropriate manners and customs. Some examples are how to shake hands in greeting, how to say “yes, please,” and, conversely, how to decline an offer.
The lessons in this art of living well together include but are not limited to how to close a door quietly, how to prepare and share a snack, how to await one’s turn, and how to take turns speaking. At the Elementary level the lessons expand exponentially as students proceed out into the world.
Our School Counselor hosts weekly Community Meetings with both the Lower and Upper Elementary classrooms. This is a time when a student can speak openly about topics that are relevant to them. The standards of the Community Meeting dictate that the space is nonjudgmental. Topics related to friendships, managing stress, relationships outside of school and self care are discussed with guidance and support.
“The ancient saying, ‘There is nothing in the intellect which was not first in some way in the senses’, and senses being explorers of the world, opens the way to knowledge.”
–Dr. Maria Montessori