Primary Program (ages 3 to 6)

Our aim is not merely to make a child understand, and still less to force him to memorize, but so to touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his innermost core. – Maria Montessori


DSCN0043Our Primary Program is structured upon the Montessori Method of education, and is based on Dr. Maria Montessori’s research using a carefully prepared environment to teach children in mixed age classrooms. Offering a variety of activity as well as a great deal of movement, the setting is equipped with child sized furnishings to foster a sense of independence and with scientifically designed materials that impart all the basic concepts of language and math. Lessons in the various subjects are given on an individual basis, and follow each child’s developmental readiness. Children are able to work freely in the classroom, with the teacher as a guide to facilitate learning that is appropriate for each child to be successful. When able to choose a lesson that responds to a child’s internal need, the child becomes self-directed. Allowing the child to work independently without interruption, they are able to process the lesson in their own way and at their own pace to completion. Enhancing this process is the design of the Montessori classroom, which contains self-correcting material that promotes self- esteem, empowering children to discover the solutions to lessons in their own time.

The Practical Life Area

Familiar objects found in their own homes attract children to the Practical Life area in the classroom. Through activities involving self-care and care of the classroom environment, the child develops concentration, coordination, focus, order and independence. The child learns to carry and use the materials to complete a task following an orderly process with each lesson progressing in difficulty. Lessons are arranged from left to right on the work tray to begin training the eyes for reading. A child may choose any piece of work in the class that he has had a lesson in to promote self-direction, self-motivation and success.

Free the child’s potential, and you will transform him into the World.

The Language Area

Primary_tristanmovalphThe Montessori language area isolates elements of language, such as phonetic sounds, and offers it to the children as a key in decoding the mystery of reading. Using multi-sensory tactile equipment as in the other areas of the classroom, the child is able to use his sense of touch, sight and sound to learn the lessons in the literacy area. The lessons start with concrete pre-reading materials and proceed to the more abstract concept of reading. Sandpaper letters are felt while the sound of each letter is repeated. Eventually the child combines these letters/sounds with the Moveable Alphabet to form phonetic words. The child progresses through the tracing and recognition of letters to beginning writing in formal exercises. Language presentations progress as the child gains fluency in reading to include the first experiences of parts of speech and functions of words.

The Math Area

DSCN0043The Montessori Mathematics area can be broken down into precise areas; the first is numbers one through ten. Similar to the Language area, sandpaper numbers are used as the child learns to recognize the numbers and acquires the ability to associate the quantity with the written symbol.

The decimal system is then introduced using concrete materials which allow the child to see, feel, add, multiply, subtract and divide up to 9,999. Squaring and cubing chains are introduced and the child delights in laying out the extremely long ten chain. By working with concrete materials, the child develops a solid basis for understanding the decimal system, geometric forms, and basic arithmetic operations.

The Sensorial Area

primary6Each Sensorial material in this area isolates one defining concept such as color, weight, shape, texture, sound, and smell. The materials are self- correcting and allow the child to categorize, isolate, and distinguish between the qualities the child is learning. Designed to sharpen the child’s five senses, these exercises help the child to understand sensory impressions.

Typical Day

During a typical day, a three-year-old may be scrubbing a table while a four-year-old nearby composes words and phrases with the moveable alphabet. Meanwhile, a five-year-old performs multiplication using a specially-designed set of beads. Although much of the work at this stage of development is done individually, often children enjoy working at an activity with friends.

The Montessori Primary Environment is an environment prepared to eliminate inhibiting factors of life and assist in fulfilling the developmental needs of the child during the developmental stage of age three to six. This includes the growth of the physical and mental aspects of the child, the innate requirement for independence and the support of the child’s social development. Social skills are promoted through the vertical classification ages of children from 2 1/2 through 6 years. These mixed ages foster cooperation, respect, relaxed interaction and spontaneous opportunities for conversation. Children are encouraged to resolve conflicts through compromise, negotiate differences and discuss problems.

Dr. Montessori discovered that in an environment where children are allowed to choose their work and to concentrate for as long as needed on that task, that they come out of this period of concentration refreshed and full of good will toward others. The trained adult understands how to offer work, to link the child to the environment, and to protect this process. The child’s confidence is supported and her natural goodness and compassion are nurtured.