MGRI offers programs outside of our typical classrooms, and we also offer many of the programs as standard in our classrooms. Whether it's before or after school, or our enrichment programs, every student has the opportunity to pursue interests in activities such as music, physical education, Spanish, and more.
Mr Robert McCormick teaches our music program. Every class has music two times per week. Mr Mack also offers private music lessons throughout our school day.
In both Primary and Elementary, students are introduced to and eventually study the creation, theory, and the aesthetic valuation of music.
Music is one of the most intense, multi-sensory, and physical activities in which young children can engage together. The music curriculum embraces the pedagogies of Orff, Kodály, and Dalcroze with an emphasis on music literacy, singing, movement, listening, and the playing of instruments. Ear training is developed beginning in early childhood through sound exploration with Montessori bells.
Making music, including tapping, clapping, bouncing, and dancing help develop fine and large motor control. Even simple games, songs, and back-and-forth play build brain and body coordination. Music builds connections across the many regions of the brain needed to carry out the complex actions and interactions.
Ms. Davis is our physical education teacher, and we know the relationship between movement and the brain. In her book The Secret of Childhood, Maria Montessori wrote: “Movement, or physical activity, is thus an essential factor in intellectual growth, which depends upon the impressions received from outside. Through movement we come in contact with external reality, and it is through these contacts that we eventually acquire even abstract ideas.”
Children want to move – they need to move -- while they are learning, and at MGRI they can. Classrooms and the whole campus provide environments for movement, both purposeful and playful. From gross motor work in the classroom to running on the playground to music with movement, children can engage in physical activity throughout their day, promoting emotional growth and intellectual growth.
Physical education classes, from Primary through Elementary II, teach children more specifically about their bodies in space, how to work as a team, and how to be healthy physically.
Art and Crafting
Primary and Elementary students study the Exploration of various art-making media, they practice fine motor skills, learn the language of art, choose works independently, and engage in sensory play. In Primary and Elementary, students engage in conversation about artmaking, share their own artwork, and learn about the work of great artists. In Elementary, students demonstrate ability in using a variety of 2d/3d media.
Art gives children a solid foundation for future growth. Through art, they are exploring, creating, expressing, and developing self. Art is a way for children to communicate their feelings. It is through art that children develop their fine motor skills. In the Montessori environment, we provide open-ended art activities that help children explore and use their creativity.
Incorporating foreign languages helps grow synaptic connections in the brain, increases knowledge of other cultures, and can improve student's ability to do academic work.
In Toddler, students are introduced to: vowels/syllables, weather, greetings, numbers 1-10, colors, and body parts. Lessons include a thematic unit such as: food, transportation, community workers, holidays, clothing, etc., with matching visuals to objects, musical instruments, or something physical to hold on to during songs and dance.
In Primary, students are introduced to a letter a week, in addition to repetition of the Toddler curriculum. In Kindergarten, reading, oral sentence stems, cut and paste of simple phonic sentences, and syllables are introduced.
In Lower and Upper Elementary, students continue to build on the Spanish foundation set in ECE. Conversational Spanish is introduced with basic questions and answers. Read aloud books related to thematic topics are introduced and students begin working more on verb conjugation related to a topic of interest. Students begin research related to topics in Spanish and famous Spanish speaking people.
STEM is a growing movement in education.
It is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied approach. Rather than teach the four disciplines as separate and discrete subjects, STEM integrates them into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications.
Montessori and STEM based learning are very similar.
A Montessori approach to education is a distinctive pedagogy based on a scientific approach of experimentation and observation by Dr. Maria Montessori. She discovered children must explore concepts “hands on” in a concrete manner before they can truly understand abstract concepts.
Beginning at a young age, Montessori students learn the fundamental rules of math and science through the discovery of natural laws using manipulation of didactic materials and problem solving. The material engages the senses and insures the internalization of concepts, not just memorization.
A Montessori education fosters independence, encourages the development of critical thinking skills and cultivates a natural desire to learn. The cornerstones of Montessori and STEM are the same. The only difference is Montessori has been doing this for over 100 years!
MGRI Primary students come out to the garden every week as the weather permits and work with a variety of tools and materials designed to build basic gardening skills and coordination as well as an understanding of natural and ecological concepts. Students are encouraged to explore the garden environment, experiencing a variety of tastes, smells, textures; and enjoying the many interesting things to see! Extended day students use the garden to further explore the botany work they are doing in the classroom.
MGRI elementary students visit the garden on a weekly basis with their respective classes for project oriented work including planting, weeding, and harvesting. Besides helping with the care and maintenance of the garden, students are encouraged to develop and execute their own projects and experiments in the garden. The elementary children regularly incorporate garden resources into their classroom science and art projects.
Maria Montessori’s curriculum, set up over 100 years ago, emphasized many of the skills that are now considered key factors in successful entrepreneurs. Her curriculum stressed areas of independence, self-guidance, and learning at one’s pace rather than the pace of others. This self-directed curriculum ties itself into building great minds that encourage curiosity and independence. In a Montessori environment, students of all ages develop the ability to work by themselves and also with others in small groups.
Here at MGRI, we teach children how to set goals, achieve these goals, and then set higher ones. This process builds self-efficacy and creates a more positive feeling of success. Our students are encouraged in their daily work to take and assess risks and are supported as they learn from their mistakes. Through our use of practical life, even our young students gain a sense of order, accomplishment and concentration starting as early as the toddler years.
Our older students have the opportunity to create a microeconomy and practice their small business skills. Entrepreneurial language such as margin, markup, and cost are all terms children hear and learn from early elementary and on. At MGRI, students of all ages and in all classrooms have opportunities to explore areas of interest promoting a freedom and love of learning that a traditional preschool, elementary, or middle school setting may not be able to offer. The prepared environment of our Montessori classrooms is meant to unleash each child’s individual potential by allowing them the freedom to grow, learn and contribute to their own classroom.