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Preschool & Kindergarten


The 3–6 year old child is like a sponge, ready and eager to soak in information from the surrounding world. The Montessori classroom is a specially prepared environment that allows the child to freely explore a wide variety of subject areas using hands-on learning materials.

Children may choose work off the low shelves that fill a 3-6 classroom as they wish. The only requirement is that a teacher has shown them how to use it first. The teacher observes the child’s choices and competency with different materials, using this information as her guide in determining which materials the child will be ready for next.

There will never be a time in your child’s life when she is more capable of taking in information and making synaptic connections. The mathematics and language arts curricula take full advantage of this developmental phase by laying down basic concepts in an easy to understand, concrete manner.

I could never say enough about how wonderful Montessori school of Syracuse (mss) has been for our boys… both our boys are confident, kind self-directed learners and for that we give so much credit to mss and the amazing people who dedicate so much of themselves to our children.
—Liz E., MSS Parent



A child can learn basic concepts of mathematics in either of two ways. They can learn by using concrete materials during the years when he enjoys manipulating equipment; or they can learn by abstract methods when they are in the elementary grades. Dr. Montessori demonstrated that if a child has access to mathematical materials in their early years, they can easily and joyfully assimilate many facts and skills of arithmetic.

After she observed that the child who becomes interested in counting likes to touch or move the items as they enumerate them, Dr. Montessori designed concrete materials to represent all types of quantities. In a Montessori environment, a child not only sees the symbol for 1, 1000, or ½, they can also hold each of the corresponding quantities in their hand. Later, by combining this equipment, separating it, sharing it, counting it, and comparing it, they can demonstrate to themselves the basic operations of arithmetic.

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Language Arts


By the time most children graduate from kindergarten at the Montessori School of Syracuse they are able to write sentences using inventive (phonetic) spelling and read simple children’s books. The Montessori classroom provides a large array of materials aimed at guiding the child along this journey.

What makes the Montessori approach to reading and writing unique is that the materials have been designed to allow children to proceed at their own pace, independently. While a teacher will provide guidance and oversee the child’s progress, it is the child’s own enthusiasm and excitement which lead the way.

The Montessori approach offers the child the opportunity to learn the shapes and sounds of the letters in a way that is independent from their motor skill development. The child, therefore, in the Montessori classroom learns to write not by writing, but by performing a number of purposefully structured activities which prepare them both indirectly and directly for the skill of handwriting.

We teach our Primary students to write in cursive. A child’s natural tendency when they first use a pencil is to draw loopy, connected figures. Cursive writing follows this natural tendency, allowing children to form letters without having to pick up their pencil and put it down in a new place. Once a child has mastered cursive, printing follows quite naturally.

Learning to Read

Students in the 3-6 classroom are introduced to reading by first learning the sound each letter makes. They work with a variety of materials to pair the letter sound with its shape. Once they have mastered this skill, they are ready to sound out individual letters to decode words.

Students move at their own pace through a series of hands-on Montessori materials that exposes them to a wide variety of phonograms, work types and word rules. For example, Montessori three-part cards allow the child to pair small items or pictures with the corresponding word. This work is enticing and engaging, and expands students’ vocabulary and confidence over time.

Children in the Montessori classroom also also have access to a stepped collection of reading materials to support them as they move from being a beginning reader, to an emergent reader, and then — at their own pace — into further fluency.

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Cultural Studies


The Montessori Cultural Studies curriculum provides children with an opportunity to explore the larger world. As part of a rich exploration of the different cultures of the world, students learn about the people, geography, and animals of each continent as they study them in the course of the three-year cycle.

Cultural Studies also introduces children to the physical world that surrounds them, providing them with the opportunity to explore real things, and learn the scientific names for plants and animals. Areas studied include geography, zoology, botany, physics, earth science and social studies.

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A young child meets the world around him through the constant use of all his senses. The early childhood years are the ideal time to give children materials which would sharpen their senses and enable them to understand the many impressions they receive through them.

Each of the Sensorial Materials in the Montessori classroom isolates one defining quality such as color, weight, shape, texture, size, sound, smell, etc. Each material emphasizes one particular quality by eliminating or minimizing other differences.

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Practical Life


Using the child’s natural inclinations as a point of departure, the Montessori classroom is designed to help the child satisfy their need for meaningful activity. For these exercises students use familiar objects – buttons, brushes, dishes, pitchers, water and many other things from their home experience.

For the young child there is something special about tasks which an adult considers ordinary – washing dishes, cutting vegetables, and sweeping the floor. They are exciting to the child because they allow the child to imitate adults. These skills fall primarily into the areas of food preparation, care of the self and care of the environment.

The Practical Life Exercises are a very important part of the Montessori curriculum. Each of the tasks helps the child to perfect their sequencing, organizing and coordination skills so that they will be able to work later with the more intricate academic materials. No learning takes place without concentration and attention. The child prepares to learn by performing exercises which help them to gradually lengthen the time in which they can focus their attention on a specific activity.

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Grace & Courtesy


Learning how to work and play together with others in a peaceful and caring community is perhaps the most critical life skill that Montessori teaches. Learning how to greet someone graciously is one of the first acts of courtesy learned in the Montessori classroom.

Everyday kindness and courtesy are vital practical life skills. Lessons in Grace and Courtesy teach everyday social customs, such as how to enter a room, not to disturb another’s work, how to ask if you may join in an activity and how to graciously decline an invitation, table manners, and how to offer an apology.

Even the youngest child is treated by their teachers and classmates with dignity and respect, and the example of the older children behaving graciously reinforces the lessons in kindness.

Montessori students come to understand and accept that we all have responsibilities to other people. They learn how to handle new situations that they will face as they become increasingly independent. They develop a clear sense of values and social conscience and absorb everyday ethics and interpersonal skills from the earliest years.

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Specialty Subjects


In addition to the rich Montessori curriculum provided in the Primary classroom, students have the opportunity to study art, foreign language and music in the course of their day. Recess and lunch are specially designed to further develop children’s sense of curiosity and love of independence.


In the Primary classroom, students learn to sing with pleasant singing voices, participate in group activities, and are exposed to a variety of styles and cultures of music.

The children also learn basic rudiments of music theory such as rhythm vs. beat, loud vs. soft, fast vs. slow, and high vs. low. They learn pitch matching and solfeggio to develop their understanding of melody.

By the kindergarten year, students are learning to play percussion instruments with basic rhythmic units such as half, quarter and eighth notes. They will also have built a repertoire of at least 20 singable songs.


Art is ever-present in the Montessori classroom. Beginning with the classic prints that decorate the walls, children are exposed to an environment that invites them to develop an aesthetic sense. Watercolor, tempera paint, cutting, gluing, and pasting are all part of the daily offering of activities in the classroom. Students will often study a specific artist, such as Van Gogh, Picasso or Kahlo, learning about the artist’s style and life.

Foreign Language

Research tells us that it is easier to learn a foreign language if it is introduced before the age of 6. Students in the 3-6 program at MSS have been exposed to a foreign language since the school was founded.  In 2021, we introduced Mandarin as the world language taught in our Primary program.

Our 3-6 year-old students meet with Miss Lina once a week for an introduction to Mandarin. Children learn simple vocabulary such as greetings, numbers and colors. They are also introduced to a few characters, and several elements of Chinese culture.

Students will continue to study Mandarin in our Elementary program.

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