Ages 3 to 6 years
The Montessori classroom is indeed a child’s world, geared to the size, the pace and interests of boys and girls between the ages of three and six. It is designed to put the child at ease by giving him freedom in an environment prepared with attractive materials. These materials are arranged on low shelves within easy reach of even the smallest child. The materials in the classroom can be divided into four main groups: The Practical Life Exercises, which are the beginning activities for the three and four year old children; The Sensorial Materials, which can be used by all ages in the class, and The Academic Materials, which await each child’s moments of interest in Language, Literacy and Mathematics.
Primary Program Schedules:
8:30-12:30 Half day
8:30- 3:00 Full day
3:00-6:00 Aftercare available
- The Primary Program maintains a 13:1 ratio and is five days per week. Once the child turns five years old, they attend the full day program.
- The ideal age for a child to start the Primary Program is 3 yrs. old. This is a program for ages 3, 4, and 5 yrs. old and includes the Kindergarten year.
- Upon enrollment of a primary student 3-4 yrs. old, parents are expected to make a commitment to having the child continue through the end of the Kindergarten year.
Practical Life Exercises
“A child’s work,” Dr. Montessori wrote, “is to create the man he will become. An adult works to perfect the environment but the child works to perfect himself.”
Using the child’s natural inclinations as a point of departure, several exercises for the classroom were structured to help the child satisfy this need for meaningful activity. For these exercises Montessori used familiar objects– buttons, brushes, dishes, pitchers, water and many other objects which the child recognizes from his home experience. These activities help the
child to perfect coordination, concentration, attention to details and good working habits. The child prepares to learn by performing exercises which help him to gradually lengthen the time in which he can focus his attention on a specific activity.
A young child meets the world around him through the constant use of all his senses. The sensorial materials in the classroom help the child become aware of details by offering him, at first, strongly contrasted sensations, such as red and blue, and then variously graded sensations such as many different shades of blue. Each of the sensorial materials isolates one defining quality such as color, weight, shape, texture, size, sound, smell, etc. The equipment emphasizes this one particular quality by eliminating or minimizing other differences.
Reading and Arithmetic
To be able to write, a child must develop a two-fold skill. He must commit to memory, the shape of the letters and their corresponding sounds and he must develop the muscular skill necessary for using the pencil with control. For a child to try to acquire both aspects of this skill at the same time is often discouraging and frustrating. It is extremely difficult for him to try to learn the path for making the letters at the same time that he is trying to learn how to move the pencil with control. Materials such as sandpaper letters and metal insets familiarize the child with how the hand needs to move to write the letter.
To go from writing to reading, children use the movable alphabet. The child takes objects from the classroom e.g. cup, nut, can and will sound out the letters. Then on to matching words and pictures, command cards, and phonograms. Gradually the child learns the irregular words and words with two or three syllables. The child’s interest in reading is never stifled by monotony. Rather, it is cultivated as the most important key to future reading.
A child can learn basic concepts of math in either of two ways. He can learn by using concrete materials during the early years when he enjoys manipulating equipment, and he can learn by abstract methods when he is in the elementary grades. Dr. Montessori demonstrated that if a child has access to mathematical equipment in his early years, he can easily and joyfully assimilate many facts and skills of arithmetic.
During these early years, the child is given plenty of math manipulatives such as the red and blue rods, the spindle boxes, the numerals and counters, the Seguin boards, the golden bead and fraction materials, the thousand chain, the bank game, the short bead stair, the squaring and cubing materials. These allow the child to do multiplication, addition, subtraction, and division.
Geography, Parts of Speech, Biology, and History
These works include the geography, puzzle maps, land and water formations, the language materials, botany cabinets, biology classification materials, and the timelines.
Why then, is early learning essential? The reason is because at this age youngsters can joyfully absorb many abstract concepts if they encounter them in material that they can manipulate. The Montessori classroom children can hold units, cylinders, spheres, or fractions in their hands. The materials which demonstrate concepts for them serve as touch-stones in their memories for many years, touchstones that will clarify these difficult abstract terms whenever they experience them in future learning situations.
“Our care of the child should be governed, not by the desire to make him learn things, but by the endeavor always to keep burning within him that light which is called intelligence.”