A Closer Look: Casa Programme

A Montessori approach to education in the pre-school and Kindergarten years prepares children to be interested and active participants in their own education.

At UMS, we have significantly enhanced the Montessori programme of education by offering additional opportunities for learning in such areas as French, Computers, Physical Education, Music and the Arts.

Program Enhancements

All Canadian public schools offer a core French program which usually will begin in Grade 4. At UMS, French instruction begins in pre-school. French is taught using a unique program call AIM (Accelerated Integrated Methodology). The premise of this approach is that students learn and remember better when they combine gestures to go with the words they are saying. It includes defined gestures for 700 essential French words. Older Casa children then learn to make simple sentences by combining the nouns and gestures thereby building the foundation to develop fluency in the Elementary programme.

Our music curriculum is designed to help students develop an understanding and appreciation of music, as well as practical skills, so they will be able to find in music a life-long source of enjoyment and personal satisfaction. UMS practices the Orff Shulwerk approach, a “child-centred” way of learning music education that treats music as a basic system like language and believes that just as any child can learn a language without formal instruction, so can every child learn music in a friendly and gentle manner. Students develop their knowledge and skills through listening, performing and creating.

In keeping with preparing our Casa students for the progressive Grade 1 programme at UMS, our Balanced Literacy program strikes a balance between both whole language and phonics. The strongest elements of each are incorporated into a literacy program that aims to guide students toward proficient and life-long reading. The goal of the Balanced Literacy Program is to teach students to become independent, strategic and avid readers and writers. The teacher implements a well-planned comprehensive literacy program that reflects a gradual release of control, whereby responsibility is gradually shifted from the teacher to the students. Through careful observation and assessment, the teacher identifies the most appropriate approach for teaching and learning to meet the diverse needs of students.

Computers are introduced to our students at an early age. Children learn basic computer operating skills and move on to more advanced skills by working on various educational software. Older Casa children are introduced to keyboarding skills by painting and illustrating short stories.

Development of coordination, balance and strength is an important component of our Casa Programme. The playroom invites children to explore and delight while developing control of their bodies. At UMS we believe that young children need to explore the outside world in order to develop their innate connection with nature. Weekly walking journeys allow the children to appreciate and care for the natural world. Children also interact with each other through organized games or free play activities on the outdoor playground equipment.