The Trillium Casa (Kindergarten) program effectively melds Montessori methodology with a more structured and traditional approach to the curriculum. In the earliest years, a structured classroom environment helps children begin to develop the independence needed to be successful learners. Children focus on building attentiveness in a classroom setting, listening to their teachers and classmates, and following instructions.
The Casa program is a progression through three basic levels: Casa 1, 2 and 3. Each builds on the experiences, skills, and knowledge developed previously. As children progress through the ranks, they are increasingly weaned off their reliance on the group to become more independent workers and critical thinkers. A great deal of hands-on work is included throughout the Casa years. Younger children work with the Montessori apparatus to provide stimulation of the core areas of learning proposed by Maria Montessori: Practical Life, Sensorial, Math and Language.
The Casa Language program is phonics-based. Very early on, children become aware of variance of sounds in words, slowly building up an ability to separate and distinguish different sounds. Then an association is drawn linking sound and letter, before children finally advance to fusion. In the later years, children work on sight reading skills and begin to read simple text.
Early writing skills begin with development of fine motor skills, especially the “pincer grip”. Students develop pencil control through scribbling, colouring and drawing. When pencil control has been mastered, students will learn to write letters with an emphasis on direction. With a strong focus on the direction of writing the students quickly develop good printing skills. By the end of Casa 3, most students are capable of independently writing a few descriptive sentences.
The Mathematics program takes a very hands-on, concrete approach to learning quantities and their relation to symbols. Through their work, children develop perception skills of weight, height, depth, and length. They are introduced to geometry through the manipulation of shapes and solids and gain an awareness of the decimal system through their work with the Montessori apparatus. They are exposed to several drill exercises to enhance and accelerate computational skills.
Casa children begin learning French in their first year. Instruction begins by gaining a familiarity with the French language through songs, poems and simple expressions. By the time students graduate from Casa 3, they will have accumulated a substantial French vocabulary and be engaging in simple conversation.
General Knowledge includes Science units, History units, and Geography units. These subjects are fun and of high interest to students. Through hands-on experiences, exposure to nature, experiments, and real world experiences (i.e. field trips), students learn to ask questions and seek answers. Participation in such activities help to broaden both students’ vocabulary and their perspectives.
Apart from the skills and knowledge they gain, the Casa program provides students with the opportunities to develop good socialization skills and a strong sense of self-worth. Character development is continually promoted at the school through an emphasis on manners, respect, and everyday etiquette. And students are always encouraged and taught to be independent and self-reliant as they prepare for a smooth transition into the more structured program of the Elementary Division.