At Del Mar Academy, each child is allowed the freedom to safely experience the excitement of learning at his/her own pace, by his/her own choice, and in an environment that appeals to his/her inner needs. “Our educational aim must be to aid the spontaneous development of the mental, spiritual and physical personality, and not to make of the child a cultured individual in the commonly accepted use of the term.”
In a Montessori classroom, children learn the phonetic sounds of the letters before they learn the alphabetical names in a sequence. The phonetic sounds are given first because these are the sounds they hear in words that they need to be able to read. Grammar is also introduced to the children (when they show readiness) with different activities and games that show them nouns are the names of things, adjectives describe nouns, and verbs are action words. These activities are enjoyable to the children, and enhance their understanding of language. The children also build their language and vocabulary through songs, listening to stories and playing sound games.
Dr. Montessori demonstrated that if children have access to mathematical equipment in their early years, they could easily and joyfully assimilate many facts and skills of arithmetic. After observing how interesting numerals became to children when they could manipulate materials, Dr. Montessori designed concrete materials to represent all types of mathematical quantities. By combining, separating, sharing, counting, and comparing this equipment, children demonstrate to themselves the basic operations of mathematics.
Science & Environmental Studies
The children are encouraged to strengthen their connection with nature and the environment as a foundation for a lifelong interest in the sciences. Science is an integral part of our curriculum and incorporates topics from botany, zoology, physical science, astronomy, geology, ecology, earth science, weather and the medical sciences. It is an investigative process that, among other things, represents a way of life: a clear thinking approach to gathering information and problem solving.
Geography and Culture
Large wooden map puzzles of different continents are available for the children to manipulate. At first, the children simply put these puzzles together, but eventually they learn the names of different countries as well as various facts about each one. The maps illustrate many geographical facts concretely. Children also learn the common land formations.
The children gain an awareness of the world around them by exploring other countries, their customs, food, music, climate, language and animals. This helps to raise their consciousness about other people, to gain an understanding and tolerance and, therefore, compassion for all the people in their world.
The children develop an appreciation of the “human” story and how the past shapes the present. Through hands-on experience (the building of models, ceremonial masks and the recreation of a variety of artifacts) the children develop a sense of the ‘living’ history found in the pages of books. We also use the children’s personal histories to introduce timelines to them.
Practical Life/Life Management Skills
For young children, there is something special about tasks that an adult considers ordinary-- washing dishes, paring vegetables, polishing shoes, etc. These are exciting to children because they allow them to act like their role models, the adults and older children in their lives. During the early years, imitation is one of the child’s strongest urges.
In this area of the classroom, children perfect their coordination and refine their motor control; continue to learn grace and courtesy, and care for themselves and their environment; lengthen their span of concentration; pay attention to details; learn good working habits as they finish each task and put away all the materials before beginning another activity.
The Sensorial Materials help children to distinguish, categorize and relate new information to what they already know. Dr. Montessori believed that this process is the beginning of conscious knowledge, and is brought about by the intelligence working in a concentrated way on the impressions given by the senses.
Physical Education, Health & Athletics
We want our students to understand, appreciate, and adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise, a proper diet, and intelligent choices regarding personal health and hygiene, and stress reduction. We provide students with the opportunity to facilitate motor development, balance and flexibility, which are important elements in reaching these goals.
Peace education is as vital an element in our curriculum as mathematics and science, and incorporates human relations and conflict resolution skills, nonviolence, leadership training and cooperative teamwork and communication skills.