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Philosophy

Curriculum Design

  • Curriculum is skill based:  All activities serve the purpose of supporting development that leads to increased skills.
  • Children learn through play: Activities are designed for children to interact with both their peers and with the learning materials.
  • Curriculum Planning is observation-based and intentional: What children teach us about their interests and skills will be reflected in the activities, including extending the activity when we observe that children want to engage more
  • Activities are appropriate for that child’s age: An activity for a 3-year-old will look different than for a 5-year-old.
  • Curriculum has culturally inclusive meaningful activities:We learn from families about their culture and incorporate activities so that others can also learn.
  • Activities are adapted to meet the needs of all children including those with disabilities and special needs:  We embrace all learning differences and will make reasonable adjustments to our activities to ensure success, regardless of the disability or special need.

Outdoor Environments

We believe that play in the outdoor environment is one of the most valuable experiences for children to develop skills that will serve them throughout their life.  Accordingly, outdoor activity is a fundamental part of the learning environment at Montecito.

The 2-acre campus is filled with trees, plants, animals and insects. We lovingly care for domestic small animals and birds in walk-in habitats and aviaries. Children’s natural curiosity is encouraged as they observe, touch, ask questions and build their understanding about how to respect and learn from the animals. Montecito’s enthusiastic teachers embed activities such as nature study walks into the outdoor activities, providing children with opportunities to experience the world of science and nature through their senses.

We carefully designed, constructed and landscaped play yards and habitats that are safe, accessible and inviting to young children.  A space we call “Open Bike Circle” is a large circular open space where children build gross motor skills as they make decisions about which bikes to ride, wagons to pull, and whether they want to play on the tree swing, walk a balance beam, look for insects, and crawl through a tunnel or water the garden. 

We also created dramatic play stations where children engage in role playing and imaginary play, which helpssupport language development and builds social interaction skills.

 

Classroom Environments

Montecito classrooms are designed to provide the optimum learning experiences for children.  Upon entering the classroom it can be observed that there are at least six (6) learning centers: blocks, dramatic play, science, listening/writing, music and story/quiet corner. 

Each of the learning centers are furnished with age-appropriate materials displayed in order to promote exploration-- a skill that is known to support language acquisition and cognitive development. Children develop at different rates so materials in each learning center reflect varying degrees of challenge and are rotated to provide new challenges and to support children’s intellectual growth.

Children are always connected to their outdoor environment, even when in the classrooms. Large classroom windows let in natural light and expose children to the ever-changing skies and seasons of nature.

Animal cages, terrariums, fish tanks and bird houses can also be found inside each classroom or play yard. Children name the animals; learn about life cycles and the types and groups of animals found in nature.  If they desire, children learn to gently hold the animals and may help feed them.

Montecito School 1468 Grant Road, Los Altos, California 94024 (650) 968-5957