"Let me do it myself"
A Montessori primary program is a multi-aged pre-school and kindergarten program. During this full cycle of 3-4 years, children are guided towards the acquisition of social, intellectual and practical skills that foster caring, self-confidence and independence.
Children begin at two years, nine months and stay in the program until they are six years old. It is during this period that the child acquires skills and knowledge at a rate that is never again seen in his lifetime. The young child needs to be actively involved in order for the learning process to take place. This is not a time for children to sit and listen. A child of three seeks to become independent. Often one hears the young child say, “Let me do it myself!” Children also want to imitate the adults around them. They need to practice the self-help skills that are necessary to help them grow into independent individuals.
The class environment is carefully prepared to encourage movement, sensorial exploration and independence. The children are introduced to progressively challenging activities in practical life, sensorial, language, math and cultural areas of the environment. Most lessons are given individually, allowing children to progress at their own pace and leave the primary program with refined concentration skills, self confidence, and a joy for learning.
Practical Life is often considered the heart of a Montessori classroom. Young children’s strong urges to become more independent will guide them to practice real life skills such as pouring, buttoning, zipping etc. Observing in a primary classroom, one will see children washing a table, polishing a piece of silver or squeezing an orange for morning snack. These activities allow the child to fully engage his body while developing stronger levels of concentration. Practicing these skills result in refined motor skills, improved concentration and an increased level of independence.
These materials allow our young explorers to refine their sense perceptions through matching, grading and classifying sensory experiences. All five senses are explored: visual, auditory, tactile, gustatory, and olfactory. These exercises assist the child in the development of his intelligence, helping the mind to organize and categorize these sensory perceptions. This serves as building blocks for later studies in language, mathematics and geometry.
Children are introduced to the concepts of math through concrete experiences. They learn by manipulating physical representations of abstract concepts, something very unique to Montessori classrooms. This gives the child the opportunity to physically experience math operations such as addition and subtraction and serves as a foundation for later memorization of math facts. After learning numbers one to nine, children work on teens and tens, alongside number chains up to one thousand. Later children are introduced to all the operations of math with the “golden beads” and begin work with the memorization of math facts. Telling time and introduction to fractions round out the curriculum.
The Montessori child is immersed in an environment rich in diverse language materials. Children begin phonemic awareness with activities where they learn the sounds of the alphabet. A wonderful game called the sound game highlights the initial, medial and final sounds of words, so important for early reading. Children work with sandpaper letters that help with muscular memory and move on to the moveable alphabet, a hands-on material that promotes writing. As they become proficient with making phonetic words, children are introduced to digraphs, diphthongs and sight words. Reading is a fun activity where children sound out and discover the written word. Later they are introduced to parts of speech, using exciting hand-on activities.
Children are introduced to many cultures through art, music and geography. Our diverse community is celebrated during a week long introduction of cultures found throughout the world in October. Children work with puzzle maps of all the continents, followed by language cards for early readers. Science is discovered through hands-on experiments where children learn basic scientific theories in biology chemistry and even physics! In music, children study harmony and melody, using a beautiful material called the bells. In art children learn outline, drawing and color, using creative materials of the teacher’s choosing.