One of the oldest and most respected Montessori programs in Northern Virginia, Green Hedges’ rich program benefits from the resources of our preparatory School: a full library, gymnasium, gardens, Visiting Author (and illustrator) Program, music and foreign language instruction. Affiliated with the American Montessori Society (AMS), our Montessori program builds on a child’s innate desire to figure out how things work and to achieve a sense of mastery as s/he learns. Dr. Maria Montessori believed that children have sensitive periods for acquiring information and knowledge from the environment. Children of this age group have a strong desire for order, independence, attention to detail, and repetition. The Montessori classroom allows children to have the freedom to move and explore materials that are designed to engage the child’s academic as well as social and emotional development. The children are trained on how to use the materials, to be respectful of their environment and of each other.
Montessori-trained teachers guide our students’ work. To produce an independent learner, the teacher must know the progression of skill work and keep track of each child’s progress. The Children are free to choose lessons, explore, and repeat those lessons within the guidelines set up by the teacher, the number of materials available, and their skill level.
Our Montessori classrooms are set up with shelves that make the learning materials available in each of the work areas. Early on, practical-life work such as pouring, polishing and attaching are begun. Then, sensorial exercises — learning a sense of order by size, shape, color, texture, sound. This work lays a foundation for language (word building and reading) and mathematics at ages 3 and 4. Hands-on materials are the key to this advanced progress long before hand-eye coordination allows for writing.
The Montessori teacher sets up the “prepared environment” each school term with simple lessons and exercises, and rotating these throughout the year to include the more sophisticated and complex materials. The teacher must keep each child’s progress in mind and teach individuals and small groups each day to use more complex reading, math, map skills, geography and science.
The goal of Montessori teaching is to produce lifelong learners who enjoy using their minds. Children leave the Montessori program with a strong academic and social foundation. They are confident, well prepared and excited to meet the challenges ahead of them as they move into our preparatory Grade 1 program. Montessori and Lower School faculty work closely together to ensure that Montessori students seamlessly transition by their deep understanding of curriculum, knowledge of the various skill sets students need to succeed and regular opportunities to collaborate. Further, the Grade 1 classroom integrates Montessori materials and work spaces, creating a smooth transition to traditional teaching.
The Language area of the curriculum offers materials and exercises that foster writing and reading development. The students gain phonetic awareness by developing visual perception and discrimination, early pre-reading skills, and work on writing. The development of handwriting skills, grammar usage, and an appreciation of literature are also part of the language acquisition. Students continue to develop listening skills and vocabulary as they communicate with classmates and adults in the environment.
Students are sequentially presented mathematical concepts using a variety of materials, activities, and strategies to facilitate knowledge of the Montessori math manipulatives. Students are educated in number recognition, symbol to quantity association of numbers, one-to-one correspondence, ordinal counting, geometry, fractions, and mathematical operations through a variety of Montessori materials.
Geography, history, science, art, and music round out the student’s Montessori Experience. Students continue The Puzzle Maps of the continents and explore various cultures throughout the world. Through the celebration of holidays, students gain some understanding of history. While in the science area, students develop a better understanding of nature and the world, with opportunities to explore, observe and classify information gained through experimentation. The art and music areas provide creative outlets with opportunities to work with a variety of artistic mediums and handle musical instruments.
Ages 3 & 4
The emphasis of the Montessori Preschool French program is on listening and pronunciation skills. The development of communicative skills is fostered through a variety of techniques including singing songs, responding to basic commands, repetition of poems and rhymes, interaction with puppets and masks, and short conversations. The classroom climate is one that fosters an environment in which the children genuinely enjoy learning a foreign language and encourages active participation.
The emphasis of the Montessori Kindergarten French program is on listening and pronunciation skills. The development of communicative skills is fostered through a variety of techniques including singing songs, responding to basic commands, repetition of poems and rhymes, interaction with puppets and masks, and short conversations. The classroom climate is one that fosters an environment in which the children genuinely enjoy learning a foreign language and encourages active participation. Students are also taught how to effectively communicate and collaborate with others.
The Sensorial area of the room allows for refinement of the senses. The lessons within this area are concerned with the development of the senses: auditory, visual, tactile, olfactory and taste. Students use observation, consideration, reflection in recognition of identities, contrasts, similarities and differences in the size, color, and shape of objects. This sensory training fosters the development of clarity and order from perceived discrimination of size, color, tactile impressions, shape, smells, tastes and sounds, which is the basis for mathematics and abstract reasoning.
Montessori Practical Life
Through the lessons in this area, students develop the ability to perform tasks that are necessary everyday skills. It is within this area that students develop the coordination, concentration, independence and order for future academically challenging work. The students learn to make responsible choices, think independently, and move freely within a structured, prepared environment. Students have the freedom of choosing work which is meaningful to them. The students also learn to care for themselves and the environment.
The Green Hedges music curriculum aims to encourage students to develop a life-long appreciation of music, with the understanding that this means something different for every child. The Music and Movement aspect of the Green Hedges Montessori Curriculum, both Half Day and Full Day, provides a comprehensive foundation for music skill and ability. The approach utilized in this course holistically expands upon the child’s innate musical ability, allowing the child to develop singing and hand instrument technique and repertoire, large and fine motor skills, tempo and rhythmic sensitivity, and aural skills.
The course follows the Orff Schulwerk approach to Music Education, combining music, movement, drama, and speech into lessons that are similar to a young child’s world of play. It also incorporates the Kodaly Method, a pedagogical method that is based on sequence that introduces new skills in accordance with the development and capabilities of the child.
In the Montessori full day Physical Education class, students are introduced to cooperative games where gross motor and some fine motor movements are needed. Spatial awareness, personal space, and safety are stressed in every lesson. Students are taught about the benefits of exercise and are encouraged to stay active outside of the class. Cooperation, good sportsmanship, independent thinking, creative expression through movement, object manipulation body part identification and participation in class activities are essential requirements for success in the class.
In Montessori Library, the early lessons focus on learning library manners, following directions and developing listening skills. Students learn about the care of books, the basic layout of the library and how to check out and return books. Early lessons also focus on identifying basic parts of a book (e.g., title, author and illustrator). A wide range of age-appropriate, diverse literature is read aloud to the students, beginning with classic nursery rhymes and progressing to longer picture books and holiday tales. Storytellers and authors also visit to share literature from their unique perspective.