Primary Class (2 1/2 -6 years)
The Primary Class
The primary classes group children ages 2½– 6 under the direction of talented head teachers and classroom assistants. It is the teachers responsibility to observe each child as an individual. Lessons are then are focused around each child’s individual needs and interests while exposing them to all areas of the curriculum.
As in a family, children learn from and assist one another. Children are free to move about, talk, and work with materials . All materials are designed to be manipulated, and the children are encouraged to repeat activities as long as interest remains.
Learning materials are within easy reach and invite exploration. A child may work alone or may ask others to share in a project. Children are allowed to develop at individual rates and according to their interests. Within this prepared environment a spirit of freedom and its accompanying responsibility flourishes.
Because young children rely on a consistent routine in their life to function at their best, we offer only full-week programs. Children ages 2½-6 attend school for a full day, 8:30-2:30. For families needing additional care, we offer an Extended Care Program – Educare.
Just as it is important for children to arrive at school daily and on time, it is important for them to remain in the same class for three or four successive years. Not only do the children develop a close relationship with their teacher, but the teacher has the ability to truly see a child through all of his “sensitive periods” and give specific lessons accordingly. Children, as adults, go through periods of high and low productivity and interest. If a child remains in the same class for three to four years, they will be sure to experience all the materials necessary for them to fully develop.
The materials in the primary classroom can be divided into five basic areas:
Practical Life materials develop coordination and independence and help children feel a part of their environment and culture. These include activities such as polishing, washing, pouring, dressing skills, food preparation, and social skills.
Sensorial materials are designed to help children develop perception of differences in qualities, such as length, weight, and sound. These activities help children focus on the details of the world around them.
Language materials help children increase their vocabulary, explore the sounds and syntax of the English language, and learn to read.
Math materials demonstrate the functioning of the decimal system as children learn to count and work with quantities.
Cultural activities provide children with information about geography, history, music, art, and natural science. The factual information that children amass in the primary class is the basis for the exploration of relationships in the elementary class.
A detailed curriculum list is available in the school office.
Some of the skills that even the youngest children start acquiring include:
- Understanding Order: Learning to put things away in the proper place, keep track of belongings, and to follow the intrinsic order of the materials.
- Taking Turns: Waiting to use favorite materials, have a seat at the snack table, or have the undivided attention of an adult.
- Doing Things For Oneself: Zipping, buttoning, etc. are skills that come out of the necessity of taking care of oneself. Seeing older children doing these things develops interest.
- Language Skills: Increasing new feelings and experiences eventually broaden the range of expression.
- Wanting to Work: A strong drive to learn new things is developed through seeing the accomplishments of other children.
Planning and Record Keeping
The teachers always plan their day, week, month, and even year. Although many lessons are spontaneous, a plan is necessary to ensure that all children are receiving equal attention. The teachers also keep detailed records on each student’s progress academically, socially, and emotionally. Parent-teacher conferences are scheduled twice a year to keep parents informed on their child’s progress. In addition, progress reports are given at the spring conference. Teachers are also available for additional conferences throughout the year when necessary.
Discipline in the Classroom
There are three basic rules in all Montessori classrooms:
- Respect yourself. Take care of your body and personal belongings.
- Respect other people. Do not hurt or abuse people or their work.
- Respect the environment. Take care of the materials, our classroom, and our school.
What sets our school apart from others is the way we enforce these rules. Each child knows exactly what is expected of him/her. When behavior becomes inappropriate, choices are given and natural consequences follow. Our approach to each child is positive, yet consistent and firm.
As children begin to mature, their freedom and responsibilities increases accordingly. They are able to choose what they want to do, when they want to do it, and how.