"The development of language is part of the development of the personality, for words are the natural means of expressing thoughts and establishing understanding between people." - Maria Montessori
Beginners (ages 2-4)
At this age, children are experiencing a burst of language development and are especially open to absorbing any new vocabulary given to them. As they explore the world around them, they learn the names, labels, and meanings of the objects in their environment; giving them relevancy. Activities to develop visual discrimination abound. When they are ready, the children are introduced to beginning letter sounds, letter recognition, opposites, sequencing, and storytelling. Much of the spoken language development prepares children for social interactions with peers and adults. Through Grace and Courtesy lessons, the children learn to express their feelings and properly interact with one another. Language development is enriched through songs and games. The adults in the environment speak to the children with respect and in complete sentences to be role models for proper language usage. Unit studies include specific vocabulary related to that unit which may be cultural or scientific in nature.
Preschool and Preschool/Kindergarten (ages 3-6)
The language area helps the children to develop an appreciation for spoken and written language and then for reading. It stimulates the children’s natural love of language and literature. Spoken language is introduced first, utilizing the child’s sensitive period for language, while progressing writing and reading. Through a variety of lessons, games, and activities the children develop their auditory, visual, and fine motor skills. The children develop phonetic awareness through repeated exposure to sounds and how they join together to make words. The sounds of the letters are introduced through spoken language and with sandpaper letters. Gradually the children begin to combine the letters into words using the movable alphabet. At the same time, the children are developing their fine motor and visual skills in preparation for teaching themselves how to read and write.
Lower Elementary (ages 6-9)
The children entering our first grade class are usually well-prepared for basic handwriting and reading simple books. Montessori elementary teachers are trained and qualified to teach reading to their students. Many other contemporary and complementary programs are incorporated into Millhopper Montessori's reading curriculum, including Scholastic Reading Assessment (S.R.A.), Reading Counts, Phono-Graphix, and Junior Great Books. In addition to the reading activities provided in class, students benefit from direct instruction from a reading teacher/therapist. Our Reading Therapist works daily with individual reading groups. She works on code knowledge, decoding skills, multi-syllable management, word analysis, vocabulary, comprehension. and expression using a variety of book styles to interest and challenge students. First and second graders have daily, formal reading group time in half-hour sessions. Third grade students attend twice a week according to their reading level. The books chosen for class discussion are tailored to each individual reading group.
Upper Elementary (ages 9-12)
The Upper Elementary class's teachers incorporate language arts into all areas of study. The language areas of study include guided independent reading, advanced comprehension strategies, spelling, vocabulary, the writing process, mechanics, and advanced grammar work and sentence study. The continued development of oral language skills is also fostered. Students learn about the diversity of language through the study of the parts of speech. Each part of speech is introduced with a concrete symbol and students move through an advanced, in-depth study of each part of speech. Sentence analysis work follows, which helps students to learn the structure of sentences. Spelling instruction is based on learning common rules and patterns, word origins, and Greek and Latin roots. Vocabulary development is built into lessons of literature and composition that include short stories, poetry, and nonfiction passages. Students explore literary analysis in small groups using high interest novels. They are encouraged to use higher level critical thinking skills to analyze text. These critical thinking skills include: questioning, clarifying, predicting, summarizing, and inferring. Reading for information is also a significant part of the curriculum and is woven throughout language and cultural studies. The writing process is taught in a writing workshop setting. Students focus on writing for an audience through this study of narrative, nonfiction, realistic fiction, poetry, persuasive, and opinion writing. Research and expository writing are interwoven throughout the curriculum. Students learn the steps of the research the process from forming a question and then writing a research paper. Prewriting, revising, and editing are emphasized as part of the writing process. Collaborative group projects help to develop interpersonal communication skills. These projects are presented to the class, providing frequent opportunities for public speaking. Fourth grade students participate in the Florida Writes Assessment each year.
Middle School (ages 12-14)
The foundation of the middle school literature curriculum is novel-based. Novel selections are based upon such criteria as appropriate reading level, relative content, exposure to various genres and/or writing styles, and exposure to various authors. Skills such as character analysis, literary terms, comprehension, critical thinking, and reading to write are integrated into each novel unit. The students are assigned an average of 4-5 novels each year. In between novel units, the students study units based on short stories, poetry, and plays. All literature skills coincide with state and nationally approved educational standards.
The main focus of the composition curriculum is to introduce students to a variety of writing styles. While utilizing the writing process of prewriting, rough draft, editing/revising, and publishing, students are exposed to creative writing, business writing, journalism, research projects. and formal five paragraph essay writing. The composition program is divided into writing units with each unit focusing on a different aspect of writing. At the end of each unit, students are responsible for a cumulative project that combines all of the skills that they have learned. Classes are often conducted in a workshop format where students are working through the writing process while receiving peer, teacher, and web-based feedback on their writing process. Middle school students are also responsible for the layout and design of the biannual literary art magazine. This magazine features creative writing and artwork submissions from all students from first through eighth grade.
Grammar concepts are covered through a variety of resource materials and focused concepts.
Vocabulary is presented across the curriculum and is formally approached by learning vocabulary development and word elements in the Sadlier-Oxford Vocabulary Workshop series.
6th Grade: Vocabulary Workshop A
7th/8th Grade: Vocabulary Workshop B (Year A)
7th/8th Grade: Vocabulary Workshop C (Year B)