Primary

Age 3 years to 5 years

The child comes to the Primary environment during the second half of the first plane of development.  He has spent the first three years of life adapting to his/her environment, acquiring numerous skills in movement, language, order etc. 

This environment, Maria Montessori refers to it as the Casa Dei Bambini (House for Children), is prepared to meet the special characteristics and traits of this child. It is during these three years he/she will refine these skills through independence, movement and repetition. This prepared environment caters to his small size, allowing him/her to be an independent and responsible member of this community. It allows for concentration and repetition of the many purposeful activities that appeal to his/her interest. There is an uninterrupted three hour work cycle in the morning, so that the child is able to spend as much time as he/she needs to complete his/her work. It is an environment conducive to concentration. Rather than scheduled interruptions for specialized lessons such as art, music and movement, these activities occur individually, or as a group spontaneously in the environment by careful observation of the teacher.

The three to six year old is a sensorial learner, using all senses to absorb the concepts around him/her. The specialized Montessori materials appeal to the senses, introducing abstract concepts (such as weight, size, etc) in the concrete form, isolating one concept at a time.  Every activity and lesson is purposeful, attractive and complete. The areas of the classroom are: Practical Life (care of self and environment, grace and courtesy) Sensorial (discrimination of size, shape and color, sense of touch, sense of sound, sense of taste, sense of smell) Language (phonetics, sight words, writing, reading, function of words, sentence analysis) Mathematics (numbers to ten; teens and tens; units, tens, hundreds and thousands; the four operations; linear and skip counting; memorization of tables) Geography (physical and political) Zoology, Botany, Art, Movement and Music.  The Montessori teacher presents the materials to each child individually according to his development and pace.  She is a keen observer, to be sure whether adult intervention will help or hinder the child’s actions.  Contrary to traditional education, the adult in the Montessori environment is passive, not the center of attention.  She is there to guide the children, present the materials, and exemplify mannerisms, language and social behavior.  The environment itself presents the control of error in the child’s work and sets the pace for the child to succeed. 

Each Primary class consists of a Montessori trained teacher and an assistant.  Our program is five full days, as consistency and order best meets the needs of the child at this age. The Primary program is a three year program, where the child works through the progression of the materials over the three year span. When there is space available, and a child enters at age four or beyond, the teacher carefully observes the child, noting where to place him/her in this progression, and works to further his development individually as the rest of the children. Five year old children are invited to stay in our Extended Day Primary, where they return to the classroom after lunch to work in a smaller, quiet setting.  This is an important year for the child as he is now at the end of the three year cycle, has worked through so many of the materials and is now confidently delving into the more intricate work.  It is an opportunity to exemplify his refined skills to his younger peers, further building confidence and perfecting skills.