Primary ages 3-6 years old
Our Primary program provides each child with independent and self-directed learning opportunities at a pace that is determined by the child. This type of education allows each child to develop a deep love of learning that will last a lifetime.
The Montessori Primary Curriculum consists of five different areas: Practical Life, Sensorial, Mathematics, Language, and Culture (which includes History, Science and Geography). Each aspect of the Montessori curriculum has a unique purpose which contributes to the development of the whole child.
THE PREPARED ENVIRONMENT
Children are sensorial, hands-on learners. The Montessori environment is set up and ready for the children to explore and utilize the materials on the shelf each day when they enter the classroom. The prepared environment includes activities for the development of daily living skills, materials that help refine the senses, materials for intellectual and cultural exploration and opportunities for movement and creative expression. The classroom is an active community where the children move about freely engaged in learning and social interactions. The children have the opportunity to emerge from this environment with an integrated relationship between the natural and social worlds, a sense of confidence in their ability to choose tasks and follow them to completion, and self-discipline through periods of long concentrated work. Cognitive ability and positive self-image are often the results.
PRACTICAL LIFE ACTIVITIES
The activities of Practical Life lead the child to independence, while at the same time, allow for order and sequential movements in the completion of a complex task. Work with dressing frames, sweeping, polishing and gardening are examples of exercises which unite the motor and frontal cortex of the brain and contribute to the development of an integrated intellect. At the same time, the child is contributing in a real way to the life of the community while absorbing him or herself in meaningful work that deepens concentration. Lessons emphasizing courteous behavior toward others and control of movement are also an important part of the Practical Life program.
The child comes to this prepared environment having accumulated, through sensorial exploration, many and varied impressions of the world around him or her. These impressions of qualities in the objects of the child’s world create a significant wealth in his or her subconscious mind. The sensorial materials developed by Dr. Montessori help to order the mind by isolating and emphasizing one quality at a time (e.g. color, shape, size, etc.). Through the manipulation of the sensorial materials, the child begins to categorize and order the objects in his or her universe. These materials give important keys to understanding the world. The materials are arranged in the environment with an emphasis on beauty and order which invites their use.
Maria Montessori held the belief that children can absorb mathematical concepts naturally. In order to fully develop the mathematical mind, Montessori teachers acquaint the child with order and exactness by the intentional way we set up and organize the shelves and trays and how work is laid out on a work mat in the Montessori environment.
In the Math area of the primary classroom, children learn and develop an understanding of various mathematical concepts through the manipulation of concrete materials. These concepts include sequence, quantity and place value. The materials also provide the child with an opportunity to explore the processes of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. All of these things combined contribute to developing a solid understanding of basic mathematical principles and problem-solving skills while preparing them for later abstract reasoning.
Maria Montessori believed language to be like music in that it has a rhythm to it that seduces the ear and progresses within children the more they practice. She states that there is an explosion into language which occurs in four sequential steps: 1st, the children listen; second, the children begin to make sounds; third, they begin to communicate with those sounds; and fourth, the children can then write the language with written symbols.
Language is an instrument of “collective thought,” and as a result contains many goals: to share and express thought, to bind people together, and to form societies. In the Montessori classroom, language is broken down into individual, progressing components: Listening, making and recognizing sounds, communication, writing, and reading. The language section has materials to enhance vocabulary, learn the sounds of the letters, learn how to write letters, learn about syllabication of words, learn how to read, and learn the parts of speech. Children can be observed throughout the day practicing writing, learning new vocabulary, and using the movable alphabet to compose words phonetically.
The materials in the Culture area build on the knowledge and construction the child has achieved through the use of the sensorial materials and the concentration he or she has developed through the Practical Life activities. The children will learn about the continents, countries within the continents, the oceans as well as the people and animals from around the world. They will learn about the parts of plants and animals through the use of puzzles and nomenclature cards. The children will also begin to learn about timelines, history and significant historical figures. All the experiences of the environment which have required observation, measurement and precision have helped to prepare the child’s intellect for the abstract concepts.
LEARNING OBJECTIVES FOR THE PRIMARY CLASSROOM
During training, a Montessori teacher is given guidelines for a range of presentations which match the child’s immediate phase of development. Dr. Montessori recognized that children go through particular periods when they are especially sensitive to assimilating certain knowledge and skills. Many of the materials used in the classroom contain the possibility for use at higher levels of work and the child makes these discoveries through repetition and experimentation with the materials.