Chesterfield Day School's early childhood and lower elementary program is an academically challenging environment that promotes a love of learning and fosters concentration, initiative, respect, and independence.
The Montessori philosophy is the foundation of our programs beginning at 18 months in the Toddler program and continuing through K-1. In addition to traditional Montessori materials, teachers enhance the student's education experience by designing other activities that reinforce learning and support Montessori methodology. As each student develops, CDS prepares students for education outside of a Montessori environment. In 2nd and 3rd grade the CDS curriculum builds a bridge from Montessori to secondary school preparation, allowing students the opportunity to learn to navigate what life will be like in rigorous middle and high school environments while still experiencing a highly personalized approach to instruction similar to the early years in our program.
In the CDS Montessori classroom, students explore six core areas: math, language, cultural studies, science, practical life, and sensorial.
The language arts foundation is introduced through each classroom subject. CDS teachers prepare an environment that engages the attention of children with books, stories, and a wealth of materials to encourage writing, reading and true comprehension and communication. The language arts program provides opportunities for the development of all aspects of communication: thinking, listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
Chesterfield Day School's mathematics program develops analytic skills at a young age by using concrete materials to introduce math processes, including math operations, geometry, and algebra. This introduction leads to a solid understanding of more abstract concepts when children reach the upper grades and move into the Singapore Math curriculum. In the Montessori years, students work with carefully designed and sequenced materials that build visual and muscular memory, a process which allows children to internalize functions and concepts by forming lasting mental pictures of them. With this concrete foundation firmly in place, students are able to progress with confidence to more abstract mathematical thinking. At every level, children are introduced to lessons or one-on-one and small-group activities allowing progress at an individualized pace.
The cultural studies curriculum covers two subject areas: social studies and science.
The social studies curriculum in the Montessori years focuses on the study of continents, countries and cultures of the world. Through this exploration, students are introduced to important geographical concepts, and develop a respect for diversity among people, responsibility for self and the environment, and cooperation with others. A primary goal of the curriculum is to help students integrate skills and knowledge into a framework for participating as active, responsible citizens in a broader world, whether in their play group, their school, their community, or beyond.
Science subject matter is interwoven with cultural studies within the Montessori curriculum. Students explore biological science through various outdoor activities, including studying plant structure, growth and life cycle, observing weather patterns, and investigating animal life in and around the School grounds. Experiments that help students establish an understanding of science concepts are conducted within the classroom. Through experiential learning, students study gravity, density, magnetism and other phenomenon which serve as the foundation of many complex theories.
Throughout the Toddler and Preschool years, practical life activities are the foundation of the Montessori curriculum. They provide a fundamental link between the child and his/her environment by building skills and fine motor control that aid in developing independence. Practical life activities are authentic tasks that engage the mind and the hand in meaningful work, within an environment that is specifically and carefully prepared for this purpose. The activities provide an opportunity for students to learn to complete their work with independence and in a way that respects their environment and community. This develops life skills, self-confidence, and independence in the young child. The adults in our environment encourage and support even the youngest children to do what they can do for themselves, within a safe and prepared environment.
The Montessori sensorial curriculum is designed to stimulate, develop, and refine all of the growing child's senses. Specially developed materials focus on a particular sense, aspect, or dimension. For example, color tablets, sound cylinders, rods, cubes, or rectangular prisms help the child to process, categorize, and eventually understand the many impressions that come from the environment. Educating the senses allows the child to perceive the richness of life while contributing to the development of cognitive skills such as thinking, judging, classifying, associating, and comparing.
To provide a rich and well-rounded educational experience, CDS students also attend specialist classes, including art, library, music, physical education and Spanish. The variety of specialist classes increases as children move from toddler, through preschool and into K-1 and beyond.