Primary

IMG_7427The Primary program, also referred to as Children’s House, is a classroom community of children from 2.5 years of age to 6 years of age who gather and grow together in a prepared environment. This environment is specially designed to appeal to the primary aged child and is filled with developmentally appropriate materials which help the child in his ultimate work of “creating the adult he is to become.”

During the ages of 3-6 years of age a child is in a distinctive period of learning which Dr. Montessori described as “The Conscious Absorbent Mind.” This plane is of fundamental importance for the formation of the individual. The absorbent mind is characterized by the “Sensitive Periods.” These periods enable the child to absorb new concepts or skills such as language, order, refinement of the senses, movement, and social relations at specific times. The child in this stage wants to be free to work independently within a structured environment doing real activities with an intelligent purpose.

 

In our Primary Montessori classrooms we have five areas of study:

Practical Life is the cornerstone of the Montessori Method and is the building block for all the other subjects such as Language, Sensorial, Cultural, and Math in the primary level classroom. It consists of simple, daily activities using objects that are familiar and recognizable to the child. Through the materials in the Practical Life area, children are able to explore their natural curiosities. They become independent, self-reliant, and are given the tools necessary to function in society.

The purpose of Practical Life is to provide both physical and developmental skills through direct and indirect aims. The direct aims of this area are to develop coordination, concentration, independence and order through prepared activities that are attractive and draw the attention of the child. In working with these materials the child indirectly obtains emotional enrichment, social skills, physical development of both fine and gross motor, objective and independent judgment and learns natural consequences.

The four main areas of Practical Life are:

  • Care of Self
  • Care of the Environment
  • Grace & Courtesy
  • Control of Movement

Art

IMG_1048In our classrooms, we focus on the process and not the product in our Art area. Children are able to use a wide variety of media such as clay, pastels, watercolors and natural materials to express themselves through their art.

 

IMG_7086 In the Montessori classroom the purpose of the Sensorial materials is to refine the child’s sense perception by isolating each sense. Maria Montessori described in her own handbook that the aim of Sensorial education is,
“…an inner one, namely, that the child train himself to observe; that he be led to make comparisons between objects, to form judgments, to reason and to decide; and it is in the indefinite repetition of this exercise of attention and of intelligence that a real development ensues.”  – Maria Montessori
Maria Montessori believed that children take in information through their senses. She stated, “The hand is the instrument of the mind.” In other words, the Sensorial materials allow the children through the use of their hands to make a mental connection between an abstract idea and its concrete representation. Through the use of didactic or hands on learning materials a child is able to refine their sense perception, problem solve and make associations of concepts they have learned and apply them to their environment and the outside world.

The three main aims of the Sensorial materials are to stimulate cognitive development, to develop discrimination of specific qualities, and to develop an ability to make judgments and comparisons. The materials are designed to isolate the sense in order for a child to perceive the single quality within the work. For example, the pink tower is all one color so that the child can discriminate visually the difference in the size of the cubes as they graduate from smallest to biggest.

The five senses explored in the the Sensorial Area are:
  • VisualIMG_7029
  • Auditory
  • Tactile
  • Olfactory
  • Gustatory

In addition, Maria Montessori included a fifth sense called stereognostic, which is the feeling of form without the visual sense.

 

Music

IMG_7032“What does not exist in the cultural environment will not develop in the child.”  – Maria Montessori

Establishing cultural awareness in the young child aids in their ability to care for others and establishes their sense of place within the world.  Therefore, it plays an important role in the Montessori classroom.  Cultural development enables the child to make connections between himself and the physical world around him.

The Cultural curriculum includes the following subjects:

  • Zoology
  • Botany
  • Geography
  • History
  • Science

Within each of these subjects the child, through the use of didactic materials is exposed to the five animal kingdoms, life cycles, continents, studies of the Earth, space, landforms, and various cultures. In addition, living things such as plants and animals permeate the Montessori environment. The children observe and care for these living organisms. In doing so, they absorb the wonder of the natural world.

IMG_8089In the Montessori environment children are exposed to Math in all areas of the classroom. It begins in Practical Life, where the children are pouring, spooning, sorting, classifying and practicing skills that will prepare them for Mathematics. Maria Montessori also designed the Sensorial materials in sets of ten to prepare the child for the decimal system.

Within the Math area there is a sequence of materials and each layer is built upon the previous one. Therefore, it is important to enable the child to set their own pace and for the teacher to observe each step of the way. The children must be able to manipulate the materials through their senses to build a concrete foundation before they can think abstractly.

The introduction to the Math in the Montessori classroom begins with the “basic five” materials. These include the number rods, sandpaper numerals, spindle boxes, smooth numerals and cards and counters. The “basic five” lay the foundation for the remainder of the Math materials in the Primary classroom and are essential in teaching mathematical concepts. Through these materials the child develops a concrete understanding of quantity and the symbols represented for each.

IMG_8233Once a child has mastered the “basic five” and can associate quantity (amount) of numerals 1-10 with their numerals (symbols) other math concepts are introduced.

These include:

  • Introduction of the decimal system (1, 10, 100, 1000) with the golden bead material
  • Concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division
  • Linear counting up 1000
  • Skip counting
  • Time
  • Money
  • Fractions
  • Measurement
  • Graphing

20151103_110000Passed down through generations, language reflects the individual culture in which the child lives. Children are not taught language, but rather they absorb the sounds, syllables, words and syntax around them beginning at infancy. In our classrooms we provide an environment rich in language, where the teachers use clear concise vocabulary and speak to the child with respect and dignity. The children have access to books in each classroom and are read to on a daily basis.

Maria Montessori believed that language develops through two internal aids that coincide together and drive the child to act on impulses beginning at infancy through the age of six. She identified these two aids as the “absorbent mind” and “sensitive periods.”  The absorbent mind acts as sponge and enables the young child to take in information without effort during a specific time frame. A sensitive period refers to an innate sensibility driving a young child’s development to acquire a specific trait. Once acquired, the sensitive period for that trait ends.

The Montessori environment supports the sensitive period of language through the use of not only the Language materials, but also the materials in the Practical Life, Sensorial and Cultural areas.

20151119_095638The three stages of language development that Maria Montessori identified are:

Stage 1:  Pre-reading and Pre-writing

  • Vocabulary
  • Visual perception
  • Phonics
  • Sensorial writing

Stage 2:  Developmental Reading and Writing

  • Reading program
  • Writing
  • Introduction to Grammar

Stage 3:  Reading and Writing as a Tool

  • Fact finding
  • Grammar and word study
  • Formal writing

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