The Preschool/Kindergarten classes are multi-age groups of 3- to 5-year olds. Each class is staffed by a head-teacher and one or two (depending on class size) assistants, all native German speakers.
The Preschool/Kindergarten offers a curriculum based on hands-on Montessori materials with a whole child approach and taught in German. It encourages self-motivation and independence, develops self-confidence and promotes self-discovery.
Students are guided by the teacher and assistant(s) to engage individually, in small groups and as a whole class in age-appropriate activities. Students enter Preschool/Kindergarten with varying fluency levels in German depending on their age and also language(s) spoken at home. Individualized and in small groups the teacher tailors instruction in the various learning areas to student’s language and developmental needs. To facilitate diverse concurrent activities in the classroom the learning materials are arranged by content in defined areas in the classroom.
The Practical Life Area contains a variety of workshop utensils, sewing and craft supplies, dressing frames, assortments of vegetables, fruits, and flowers. These materials engage the younger children in activities that develop fine motors skills and lead to independence. For older students this area serves to build vocabulary in German concerning practical life things.
The Language Area also offers materials for all preschoolers and kindergartners. There is a reading area with books appropriate for the various age groups. Oral language learning is the primary focus through oral instruction, discussions, and reading to students. The teacher and assistant(s) while interacting with the students in German only, encourage students to apply their developing German language skills and knowledge. From learning the alphabet to sounding out words sandpaper letters are used to associate sound with shape through touch. Words and sentences are built with movable letters. Grammar is taught by associating color-coded symbols with parts of speech. Books are created containing vocabulary in many subjects (e.g., animals, family life, geography) and to develop writing skills.
In the Sensorial Area with rods, cylinder, mosaics etc. students learn to identify and reproduce shapes and their relations, size, dimensions and patterns.There are simple tasks for the younger children and more complex materials for the older. Space dimensions help build a foundation for geometry.
In the Mathematics Area a multitude of materials such as numerical rods with number cards, bead boxes, addition and subtraction strip boards, multiplication and division boards offer challenges for all preschoolers and kindergartners. Even younger students advance fast from counting beads to adding beads to adding sets of beads, i.e. to multiplication. Kindergartners will master the concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
The Geography Area contains maps, wooden puzzles, artifacts and pictures from various countries.
The Science Area offers botany and zoology materials, as well as, sets for experimentation.
In the Arts Area drawing and painting materials attract students of all ages. Musical instruments, such as drums and xylophone are used to develop sound discrimination, motor skills and feeling for rhythm.
In Whole Class Activities, usually happening with students sitting in a circle, students sing, read aloud, show and tell. These activities also provide opportunities for much language development. Students learn how to speak in large groups by telling stories and taking part in group discussions. The teacher also uses whole group settings to introduce integrative themes.
Integrative Themes: Although learning materials are arranged by content area, students learn to integrate knowledge and skills acquired in the various areas by pursuing overarching themes of inquiry. E.g., the teacher might introduce the themes “Water,” its importance in life, uses, availability, etc. All content areas contribute: Practical Life, Science, Geography, Music … and all students take part in this trans-disciplinary learning experience. Older students might produce a report by collecting information, looking up rivers and oceans, finding out how a pump works…; younger students might focus more on their immediate world of water use, cleaning, tasting etc. Another themes is “The Family:” Students bring photos for show-and-tell, make family trees, produce floor plans for homes, collect information on how families live in different geographic areas, food, customs, celebrations… Broad units of inquiry develop student’s facility for knowledge integration while looking at issues from various perspectives. The teacher guides the student in the process of inquiry and assures that students engage each day in a well balanced set of activities.
Upon entering first grade students will have acquired oral fluency in German as well as some basic reading, writing and math skills, important knowledge in basic subject areas, and love for learning. The first grade curriculum will strengthen and extend these foundations.