Our Primary Class for preschool students provides a prepared environment to meet the needs of each child. Children work individually and cooperatively with materials that engage their curiosity through the senses. Each child has the freedom to discover and to observe. Our aim is to develop in the child a love of exploring and a joy in learning.
The variety and progression of experiences gained through working with the Montessori and Reggio materials enable the child to refine and classify his or her already existing sensory impressions. The manipulative materials engage the child with numbers and language, writing and reading, art and music; these are tools of abstract reasoning and communication and are the basis of self-directed learning and creative imagination. In addition to Montessori lessons, our program also incorporates thematic units (e.g. simple machines, human body, cooking and nutrition, qualities of water, life cycles).
Children receive instruction in the following areas:
Exercises include care of self, care of environment, development of social relations, and movement activities. These exercises promote independence and pride, and they link home and school. In addition to being appealing to the child, these activities help in the development of concentration, large and small muscle groups, and logical and orderly thinking. Many exercises indirectly prepare the child for later work in reading and writing.
The prepared environment provides opportunities to develop oral language and vocabulary, the foundation of language study. Phonetically taught lessons gradually encompass all forms of language and are designed to develop clarity of thought and speech. These lessons include letter sounds and formation, written expression, reading, punctuation, elements of grammar, spelling, children's literature, and dramatization. Many obstacles to reading and writing have been isolated and addressed through earlier work in the Practical Life and Sensorial areas.
History, Geography, and Culture
Children learn about the continents of the world, the countries of these continents, and the different cultures around the world. Children are indirectly exposed to history through discussion and to stories of famous persons and places. Many concepts are discussed in the context of language study.
Music, Art, and Movement
Music and art are a part of our everyday curriculum. Children sing, learn rhythm and movement, play instruments, and learn cultural music throughout the day. Large and small motor groups are exercised and coordination is learned through a variety of activities, including outdoor play, ball play, yoga, walking on the line, and music/movement activities and marches. Music study includes an introduction to famous composers and their works, and also includes an introduction to notes and to the scale through the bells. Creative art is offered as part of daily classroom activity. Children are exposed to different artists, art history, and a variety of art techniques. Our goal is to focus on the process, not on the product.
Materials are designed to encourage sensory exploration of the world by helping the child isolate, refine, compare, and classify perceptions of sounds, smells, colors, textures, sizes, and shapes. Sensory exercises help the child develop cognitive skills and progress naturally to a variety of activities, such as art, music, geography, mathematics, language, the sciences, and plant and animal studies.
The Montessori approach to teaching mathematics is a basic one; concepts are built on each other and no concept is taught in isolation. Through sensorial based Montessori manipulatives, we begin by introducing the child to concrete objects The child then naturally progresses to incorporating symbols and understanding more abstract ideas. The curriculum goes from learning quantities to learning the decimal system, and then continues on to addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The curriculum also introduces the child to measurement, geometry, fractions, and telling time. Through curiosity and exploration of numerical and geometric relationships, the child discovers that most everything in mathematics is related.
Physical and Life Sciences
Science experiments and observations are done daily. Children study botany, zoology, and astronomy inside the classroom and outdoors through nature walks, animal and insect study, observation, and gardening. Children regularly take part in cooking activities.
Grace and Courtesy
Grace and courtesy activities are designed to promote harmony between the child's mind and body, as well as to promote an awareness of self and others. Lessons are presented so that children can learn how to carry themselves and communicate. Drama is used as a teaching tool to demonstrate positive ways of relating to others. Children learn to establish and maintain social relations and a peaceful working atmosphere.