Preschool

The Preschool program enrolls three and four year old children, and focuses on stimulating students’ developing brains with real-life materials and practical life subjects. Dr. Maria Montessori was a strong promoter of neuroplasticity, and believed that children between the ages of three to six had especially plastic brains and the ability to absorb large amounts of information, be it auditory, visual, or tactile. At Cornerstone we aspire to saturate children’s young minds with a knowledge base that will promote learning for years to come.

Children participate in a variety of activities in the Preschool class: practical life, sensorial, mathematics, language, as well as, culture, art, music and PE. Each child works on an individual program and moves on to learn new concepts as they are ready.

PRACTICAL LIFE

Practical Life exercises assist the child in developing social skills and personal independence. Children learn to take care of themselves and their environment. In addition, practical life activities help to develop a child’s fine motor movement, which involves the body, intellect and will.
Practical Life Activities are uniquely purposeful and calming. They appear very simple and repetitive, but as a child simply waters a plant or pours coloured water, he/she is, in fact accomplishing much more:

  • developing a high level of concentration
  • developing a sense of order (putting materials back where they belong)
  • taking pride in a job well done
  • developing an increasing sense of independence through caring for themselves and their environment
  • developing respect for their community (their classmates and teachers)
  • improving fine motor movement

Many of the Practical Life Activities are tasks that a child will observe daily in the home, thus easing the transition to school. The young child is able to perform the activities he/she has seen adults do, using child-sized tools, e.g. pouring liquid into a container, tying a bow, rolling a mat, planting a seed, wiping a spill and more! The pace is unhurried and a teacher is nearby to help if needed without interfering.

In Practical Life, children develop their powers of concentration and control by working at a task from beginning to end.

SENSORIAL

Sensorial materials are designed to refine and develop the child’s senses. Children learn to order and classify impressions by using their senses, i.e. touching, seeing, smelling, tasting, listening and exploring the physical properties of their environment. In addition, sensorial activities build cognitive skills.

The Sensorial Area of the classroom contains a variety of materials, each of which has been designed to isolate a “material abstraction”, e.g. the “colour tablets” are designed so that colour is the sole focus of the child’s attention. Each piece of sensorial equipment is designed to provide the child with a sensory-motor activity that will stimulate the senses and allow the child to form new concepts through experiences and exercise.

CULTURE

Culture includes the topics of geography, history, biology, botany, zoology, art and music. All children have an inherent curiosity about our world and the plants and animals that inhabit it. Through experiments, lessons and experiences, children make discoveries about their world.

Children learn about people and cultures in other countries with an attitude of respect and admiration. Through familiarity, children come to feel connected to the global human family. Lessons and experiences with nature inspire a reverence for all life. The comprehensive art and music programs give children opportunities to enjoy a variety of creative activities, as well as, gain knowledge of the great masters.

MATHEMATICS

Montessori mathematical activities help children learn and understand the concepts of mathematics by using concrete materials during the years when they enjoy manipulating equipment. Children easily and joyfully assimilate many facts and skills of arithmetic. Montessori materials represent all types of quantities. Children not only ‘see’ the symbols for 1, 1000, or ½, but they can also hold each of the corresponding quantities in their hand. Later, by combining this equipment, separating it, sharing it, counting it, and comparing it, they can demonstrate to themselves the basic operations of arithmetic. These activities give them the satisfaction of learning by discovery!

Montessori Preschool and Kindergarten mathematical activities provide children with a solid understanding of basic mathematical principals, preparing them for abstract reasoning and developing problem-solving capabilities in the elementary years.

LANGUAGE

Language development is vital to human development. Cornerstone’s Preschool and Kindergarten language program introduces children to a variety of language activities in order to assist students in establishing a permanent interest in literacy. Reading is an integrated process – it includes phonetic instruction, whole language activities, language experience, and interrelated skills, as well as, a curious mind and an active imagination.

Cornerstone’s reading program comprises both a phonetic approach, as well as, whole language.  As soon as a child can recognize certain phonetic sounds, letters are placed together to form words. Soon words become sentences, and sentences form stories. To facilitate development in these areas, as soon as a child is ready, they are introduced to big books, felt stories, poetry, creative writing and daily entries into personal journals.