What is the International Preschool Curriculum (IPC)?
The IPC was founded to strengthen and harmonize early childhood education standards. As an IPC school, students will be taught from a curriculum containing 56 themes which encompass six trans-disciplinary content learning areas to language arts, socio-emotional skills, numeracy, creative and visual arts, sciences and fine and gross motor skills. There are also five underlying themes and objectives of the IPC which are designed to cultivate critical thinking, raise self-awareness, promote an understanding of other cultures and encourage internationalism and multilingualism.
The IPC takes the prevailing view that the first few years of a child’s life provide a vital opportunity for development. The IPC involves family and parents wherever possible in understanding and facilitating the objectives of the organization.
The IPC believes that due to the progressive nature of education, the best forms of education continue to evolve. Thus throughout the
curriculum these elements are incorporated with the key characteristics of the IPC being:
• Objective Based – The curriculum has clearly defined objectives which are designed to facilitate assessment and highlight areas of student progress or concern;
• Inquiry Based – Limited aspects of inquiry based education designed to spark and maintain interest levels;
• Play Based – By making learning fun, children are exposed to a learning environment that is second nature.
• Developmentally Appropriate – The IPC believes that all children develop at varying paces not necessarily defined by age;
• Family Involvement – The IPC believes that families should be at the center stage of their child’s education;
• Content Learning Areas – 6 content learning areas and approximately 20 subjects ranging from agriculture to mechanics;
• Updated Regularly – As a living document, the IPC regularly edits and refines its curricula materials. New units to strengthen core skills are added annually;
• International – As a curriculum that was designed with an international audience in mind, the IPC has a special focus on internationalism, multilingualism and diversity.
What is the Montessori Approach?
The hallmark of a Montessori program is the prepared classroom environment. Each classroom is equipped with materials that first teach through the senses and later lead to reading, writing, advanced mathematics, problem solving, geography, science and cultural studies. Visual arts, music and movement are interwoven through out the days’ activities.
Montessori early childhood programs offer the most comprehensive curriculum for parents who have the goal of preparing their child for elementary school. Nearly everything within the walls of a Montessori classroom is child-sized. Children “work” with authentic Montessori materials including a wide range of high-quality, age-appropriate materials—objects such as wooden blocks, sand trays, textured fabrics, and glass beads, to name just a few. All of the materials are designed to be self-teaching. Children learn to solve problems, see natural connections in knowledge, learn skills related to practical living, and therefore, expand their imaginative thinking.
There is a framework which specifies learning outcomes and the knowledge and skills to be learned.
The Montessori “Practical Life” activities deal with the care of the child’s own person (personal dressing and grooming), care of the environment (cleaning, taking care of plants and pets, preparing food), development of fine and gross motor skills, and learning courteous behaviour and conflict resolution.
Independence, Confidence and Self-Care;
The activities of Practical Life take the child closer to independence and bundled with that are feelings of security, confidence, and self worth. The child knows how to make her own toast and pour her own juice. He knows how to dress himself and clean up if he makes a mess. Children can make a perceptible impact on their immediate environment and this is a very empowering feeling.
This area directly feeds the need of the children to imitate the activity of the adults in their lives and to become independent. This area is for every child who cries out “Mama let me do it by myself!”
Refining Motor Control;
At this age children are in a sensitive period for movement. According to Montessori and current research, movement is essential for the development of the intellect. It is the child’s means of influencing and understanding himself and his surroundings.
Movement is incorporated into every Practical Life exercise (indeed, almost every classroom activity)- from the fine dexterity needed to spoon tiny beans from one container to another to the gross motor work of traveling back and forth from the sink with a heavy pitcher of water.
Respect and Care for Surroundings
Children have an intense desire for meaningful activity. They delight in taking care of their surroundings. They arrange flowers, sweep up spills,and jump in to help a friend in need of assistance.
Increasing Attention Span and Carrying Out Multi-Step Processes
Courteous Communication and Conflict Resolution
Learning how to work and play together with others in a peaceful and caring community is a basic life skill. Learning how to greet someone graciously is one of the first acts of courtesy learned in our classroom.
Everyday kindness and courtesy are vital practical life skills. Lessons in Grace and Courtesy teach everyday social customs, such as how to ask for or offer help, how to join in an activity and how to graciously decline an invitation.
Differences of opinion and misunderstandings are a natural component of social relationships and can lead to conflict. Learning how to express one’s needs clearly and to communicate honestly is critical in order to prevent an outburst and come to a peaceful resolution. We do daily role plays in our class to demonstrate how to handle various social situations. The children love to act out scenarios in which they have to deal with conflicts and resolve them!
An enriching environment filled with storytelling, songs, biographies, and poems will enhance children’s oral language skills. An individual phonics approach to language is used in the Montessori classroom. The Sandpaper Letters help children connect the sound of the letter with its corresponding symbol. Children’s tactile memory aids them as they trace the shape of the letter while saying the sound. The language curriculum builds to create a moment in which sight, sound, and the pincer grasp all develop together and generate the amazing realization that the child knows how to read and write.
Learning is achieved through sensorial interaction with our environment. To enhance this natural process of learning, Maria Montessori developed groups of materials that sharpen the senses as the children work with them. For example, the Sound Boxes sharpen their auditory senses and the Pink Tower sharpens their visual senses. Through work with the sensorial materials, a child’s senses are refined, allowing them to take in the lessons of their environment to the fullest extent.
Children are gradually led by working with concrete math materials in order to understand abstract numbers and concepts. Children start by working on number sequencing, matching quantities with the appropriate symbols and then are eventually led to interactive group lessons working with the decimal system. Children internalize the concepts of math through manipulation of these concrete materials and are eventually able to explore math without the use of this manipulation.
Music, Art, and Nature:
The study of Music, Art and Nature are interwoven throughout the Montessori curriculum. It is through these subjects that children develop an appreciation for all life and how it is interrelated on Earth. Responsibilities towards the environment and awe for the wonders of nature are also emphasized.
Art in the Montessori classroom focuses more on the process of creation than on the finished product. When a child asks for feedback, attention is directed toward the child’s feelings when producing the art or how the child chose the colors and shapes, rather than commenting on the value of the piece. That said, a child’s art would never be referred to as “good” or “bad”. The child’s finished piece of art is original and expressive. Each product is a distinctive combination of the mediums used, the process of creation and the child’s own expression.
Montessori Peace Curriculum
We will be following the Flower of Peace model.
There are six basic elements that fall under this model:
1. Love: The interrelationship of all things is emphasized with Love as the common bond
2. Basic Needs and Human Rights: Under Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory we must have our basic survival needs met before we are able to concentrate on the higher level needs. This will help the children develop compassion and understanding for all cultures.
3. Self-Awareness: Some activities include but are not limited to deep breathing, responsible choice making, emotional recognitions and expression, and empathetic understanding.
4. Community Awareness: These lessons focus on respect for others. Grace and Courtesy lessons and community outreach are two examples that fall under this category.
5. Cultural Awareness: One way to bring cultural awareness into the classroom is to emphasize the similarities among different cultures and then to explore the differences with reverence and wonder.
6. Environmental Awareness: Appreciation for the interconnectedness of our global environment will be expressed in our classroom.