Children’s experiences at AIM extend far beyond the authentic Montessori toddler, preschool and elementary program inside the classrooms.
Enrichment happens inside our classrooms in many different ways:
- Regular music programs. Toddlers and preschool children have weekly engaging music experiences with the Thingamajig program: children sing under the lead of a trained musician; they make their own instruments and use them to make music. In the elementary program, students have weekly one-hour choir class under the leadership of Melanie DeMore, a professional performing and recording artist with two decades of experience teaching a capella singing to children.
- Integrated yoga and karate program for elementary. Twice a week, our elementary students participate in karate and yoga. Taught by dedicated teachers familiar with the Montessori approach, these classes are a great way to bring physical activity into the middle of our elementary school day—and the students just love them!
- On-site field trips and in-class presentations. We regularly invite parents and community organizations to come into our classrooms and bring the world to our children. Whether it is a Japanese calligraphy demonstration by a visiting relative, an oral health experience offered by a local dentist, or a visit by the Berkeley fire department, these experiences enrich the children’s understanding of the world they live in.
Our students also enjoy outside play several times each day: students who arrive before the 9 am start of the school day in Children’s House start their day with play. Before or right after lunch, all children have an extended outside recess, and those children who stay for after school care may be spending up to an hour outside in the afternoon.
This playground time is a great opportunity for our students to work on gross motor skills, to learn how to form friendships, negotiate with others in creative, open-ended situations, and just plain enjoy being outside and being active.
The play environment at aim offers a wide variety of open-ended play equipment: younger children have tricycles and low scooters; all children have balls, hoola-hoops, and jump ropes. Gardening boxes invite children to take care of them, and the elementary class is responsible for Max, our resident guinea pig, which lives in the elementary yard. Elementary students and older Children’s House students love their builder boards: they build multi-story forts, make hurdles, or use them together with 2×4’s and our redwood stumps to build elaborate structures. Other elementary favorite include balance bikes, big-tire tricycles, pogo ticks and stilts. All in all, recess time at AIM is a very active, creative child-led experience, and one that our students enjoy so much that more than one parent has complained how hard it is to get children to leave the school yard at pick up time!