Early Program classes are small, mixed-age groups of three-and-four-year-old children with a 7.5:1 student-teacher ratio to provide individual attention. Combining Montessori methodology with activities in art, music, movement, library, science, outdoor play, and dramatic, open-ended play, the curriculum promotes social and emotional growth, as well as cognitive and sensory development.
The Early Program at Caedmon follows a Montessori-inspired philosophy. Traditional Montessori materials, which address cognitive and sensory-motor development, are enhanced by more contemporary activities to encourage the social, creative, and emotional growth of the child. The classroom itself is a prepared environment designed to provide children with positive experiences. The furniture is scaled to their size, and thoughtfully placed in the room to achieve a natural flow of movement. Montessori materials are introduced sequentially, in response to the children’s readiness, and then organized on the shelves thematically. Everything in the room is arranged in predictable fashion, so that the children are able to take charge of their own learning, and to discover on their own. With its sensible structure, the classroom itself is the center of focus. The teacher is a facilitator in helping the children utilize their space and materials to learn independently.
During the two-year program, children of different ages are mixed together and remain in the same classroom for both years. Three-year-old children benefit from having older four-year-old classmates to model. The following year, they are empowered and cement their learning by assisting their younger classmates. The effect is to instill in the children a sense of responsibility for each other, as well as for themselves and the classroom.
A foundation is carefully laid for effective and sensitive communication with peers and adults. Children are consistently encouraged to use their words when expressing their needs or feelings. Every effort is made to teach them compassion and empathy, in order to develop their awareness and appreciation of others. The progress of each child is monitored by continuous observation and record keeping on the part of the teachers. They look to see if the child is functioning independently in the classroom, verbally communicating his or her thoughts and actions, and progressing through the different areas of the classroom at his or her own pace.
Throughout the week, children in the Early Program travel to specialist classes throughout the school, including music, movement, science, and art. All classes are taught by professional Caedmon teachers who are accomplished in their respective fields. Within their homeroom classes, Spanish is incorporated, and once a week, Early Program children are paired with their Elementary Book Buddies for one-on-one storytime.