CMS operates a Casa for children aged 3-5 years and a Primary for children aged 4-6 years. Your child will be offered a place in the Casa or Primary and will remain in this group for the academic year (teachers may use their discretion to move a child if they felt necessary with your consultation). Each class will have a maximum of 20 students. Primary students will be full time, while Casa students have the option of part time attendance (minimum 2 full days). Casa students must do full days, unlike the Nido children who may do half-days.
Q. Why do the two classes come together for the morning work cycle?
Put simply, because children are still in the first plane of development until the age of 6 and a 3-6 class allows for vertical learning. Montessori advocated that children should be grouped in a 3-6 environment to gain the most from their learning experience. The benefits of vertical learning are many.
1.Interaction: The mixed age group environment creates an atmosphere where children learn to help and be helped by other children, because they interact consistently with children whose age and abilities are varied. Children gain an appreciation for their achievement and the accomplishments of others, and are naturally challenged by the achievements of others.
2.Learning from Each Other: Older children learn to be patient and tolerant, and serve as role models and teachers for the younger children. When an older child teaches a younger one, it reinforces previously learned concepts and is actually an aid in complete mastery of concepts. Younger children learn about courtesy, manners, and conflict resolution by watching the older children in the class. Younger children love to copy older children and older children love to ‘look after’ younger ones and teaching them also improves their confidence and gives them a sense of achievement.
3.Community: By staying in a classroom for a three year period, children develop a strong sense of community and stability, with 2/3 of a class returning every year. This community aids the development of students as role models for one another.
4.Familiarity: Being in the same classroom year after year allows a teacher to truly learn each individual child’s learning abilities, style, and developmental level to better be able to set the learning agenda as well as build on strengths and work on weaknesses.
Q. What about Languages? How are these taught at CMS?
Maria Montessori believed children have an absorbent mind from the age of 0-6. They learn through taking in the environment around them.
Research shows, repeatedly and conclusively, that children are not just capable of absorbing and retaining many languages whilst they are young (and in their sensitive period for language), but that mere exposure to multiple languages gives children cognitive, analytical and social benefits that last well into adulthood. For instance, even 7 month old babies regularly exposed to more than one language show an improved analytical capability over monolingual babies. Multilingual adults are at a reduced risk of brain degeneration in later life, and languages are in most cultures a vital and integral part of a good education for the mere fact that they open children’s eyes to the size of the world and the beauty of different cultures. No matter the age or background of a child, another language is a gift and an open door to another part of our world.
When your child is around 6 years old, he or she is no longer able to absorb language unconsciously in the same way and the organs of speech and hearing become fixed. An older child can still learn another language but it requires conscious effort and memory.
With this in mind CMS has moved away from the traditional way of teaching language via rigid lessons and instead we have native speaking French and Spanish teaching assistants working in the class. The TA’s interact with the children by reading stories, talking to them while they prepare snacks or doing crafts, playing outdoors etc. This method allows opportunities for children to hear the language more naturally and absorb it unconsciously, in the same way they will have learnt to speak their first language.
Currently, we have a Spanish TA working Monday to Wednesday and a French TA working Thursdays and Fridays every morning in the 3-6 environment.