Overview on the Primary Child Program
(30 Months - 6 ½ Years Old)
Montessori believed that these children aged three to six were passing from the unconscious to the conscious Absorbent Mind and ready for more refined type of sensorial experiences. When they first enter as a three year old, they are busy with practical life materials; through them they further develop concentration.
They continue to learn the manners of their culture through grace and courtesy lessons. The hand and the brain act in unison making a mental connection between an abstract idea and its concrete representation. The teacher presents each material to the child the first time. It is the subsequent use of the material by the children that substantial learning takes place.
The final stage in the use of the material is the attachment of language to the abstract idea. The sensorial materials establish a solid basis for the language and mathematical materials to follow. In this prepared environment the children reach unusual development by the time they are five both in literacy and mathematics. However this does not represent what is most important about the primary years which are the children’s self formation.
It is the children’s development of personality and social behavior which is the essential aspect of Montessori education. The children’s good manners, their gentleness with each other, their confidence and ease with those both younger and older than themselves, including adults, their care with the environment, their eagerness and energy to learn, make clear the benefits of a Montessori education at this age.
Allow your Child to Develop
In our school, the primary classroom for children aged from 30 months – 6 years of age provides the ideal environment for children within this age group to develop along their natural path of development and reach their full potential.
At the age of 3, the child becomes sturdier and moves with agility. Coordination and movements are development and the child often needs this freedom to do everything by himself. The child develops a routine through the repetition of the activities that the guide will show; Language explodes at about two years and the child is now, as a result, a more active member of society. He can socialise with people independently of his parents and he is developing his own distinctive personality. Emotionally it is a more stable time than when he was younger although the child still needs great comfort and security.
“An adult has an experience a young child builds her environment into her being”
The child settles down to a period with change, but not as much change as in the previous three years. The child refines their basic skills and knowledge develops. Purposeful work/activity during this period is ideally suited to helping the child to overcome any behavioral issues or social anxieties. Physically he grows steadily, even starting his second set of teeth before the end of this period. Intellectually he works with his environment and becomes aware of the world around him that he absorbed unconsciously in the first three years. It is an important time for language as the child increases his vocabulary tenfold and the interest in words and language structure is intense.
Refinement (30 Months - 6 ½ Years Old)
The child 0-3 years laid down basic skills and the child 3-6 years refines these. This is an important distinction. The child under 2.5 or 3 years is in a completely reality based world. There is quite enough excitement in reality. He does not need refinement as yet.
However the child from 2.5 or 3 years is refining these skills. In movement the focus changes to refining large motor skills, for example hopping, tip-toe, skipping and so on. The child also works very hard to refine his hand movements, especially eye-hand coordination. The Montessori classroom has many activities to support this work. Socially the child refines the basic customs absorbed in the first three years. He enjoys the formality of greeting people, saying “excuse-me” and so on. Observe the language of a child from 3-6 years. They have all the basics and now they focus on increasing vocabulary, taking great interest in the precise way a word is pronounced or made up. Based on this Montessori developed her early writing and reading program.
To correspond with the urge for refinement, the child’s principal sensitive periods (periods of intense interest in particular activities) continue right through to 6 years. The sensitive period for movement continues but the focus is now on detail and refinement of movement. The sensitive period for language continues, but the focus is now on vocabulary and how it is constructed.
The sensitive period for order also continues, the focus is now an intellectual focus. The children notice subtle differences such as dark red and light red. Practically, what you would observe in a Montessori classroom is the teachers guiding children towards making decisions in their practical lives, exploring a myriad of sensory experiences, savouring the power of words, revelling in the elegance of mathematics, cultivating their unique voice through the arts, discovering continents and cultures in geography, observing the marvellous wonders of the natural world, and linking the past to the present through historical studies.
The Practical Life component of the Montessori approach is the link between the child’s home environment and the classroom. The child’s desire to seek order and independence finds expression through the use of a variety of materials and activities which support the development of fine motor as well as other learning skills needed to advance to the more complex Montessori equipment.
The practical life materials involve the children in precise movements which challenge them to concentrate, to work at their own pace uninterrupted, and to complete a cycle of work which typically results in the feelings of satisfaction and confidence. Practical life encompasses four main areas: Control of Movement, Care of Person, Care of Environment, and Grace and Courtesy.
From an early age, children are developing a sense of order and they actively seek to sort, arrange and classify their many experiences. The sensorial component provides a key to the world, a means for a growth in perception, and understanding that forms the basis for abstraction in thought.
The sensorial materials give the child experience initially in perceiving distinctions between similar and different things. Later the child learns to grade a set of similar objects that differ in a regular and measurable way from most to least. Each piece of equipment is generally a set of objects which isolate a fundamental quality perceived through the senses such as color, form, dimension, texture, temperature, volume, pitch, weight and taste.
Precise language such as loud/soft, long/short, rough/smooth, circle, square, cube and so on is then attached to these sensorial experiences to make the world even more meaningful to the child.
Maria Montessori did not believe that reading, writing, spelling and language should be taught as separate entities. Pre-primary children are immersed in the dynamics of their own language development and the Montessori approach provides a carefully thought-out program to facilitate this process. Oral language acquired since birth is further elaborated and refined through a variety of activities such as songs, games, poems, stories and classified language cards.
Indirect preparation for writing begins with the practical life exercises and sensorial training. Muscular movement and fine motor skills are developed along with the ability of the child to distinguish the sounds which make up language. With this spoken language background, the directress begins to present the alphabet symbols to the child.
Not only can children hear and see sounds but they can feel them by tracing the sandpaper letters. When a number of letters have been learned the movable alphabet is introduced. These cardboard or wooden letters enable the child to reproduce his or her own words, then phrases, sentences and finally stories.
Creativity is encouraged and the child grows in appreciation of the mystery and power of language. Other materials follow which present the intricacies of non-phonetic spelling and grammar. Because children know what they have written, they soon discover they can read back their stories. Reading books both to themselves and others soon follows.
Mathematics is a way of looking at the world, a language for understanding and expressing measurable relationships inherent in our experience. A child is led to abstract ideas and relationships by dealing with the concrete. The child’s mind has already been awakened to mathematical ideas through the sensorial experiences.
The child has seen the distinctions of distance, dimension, graduation, identity, similarity and sequence and will now be introduced to the functions and operations of numbers. Geometry, algebra and arithmetic are connected in the Montessori method as they are in life. For instance, the golden bead material highlights the numerical, geometrical and dimensional relationships within the decimal system.
Through concrete material the child learns to add, subtract, multiply and divide and gradually comes to understand many abstract mathematical concepts with ease and joy.
Art, Music, Geography, Science
In Montessori these are integrated into the whole language experience. Children learn about Famous Artists and Art work and Composers and musical composition while also learning skills such as cutting, pasting, painting and drawing as well as singing and keeping a beat and playing musical instruments such as shaker, bell, maracas and drums.
In science as part of the day they learn about weather and climate and planting and caring for plans and animals, food and nutrition as well as learning about sink and float and magnetism and simple mechanics, they will develop skills in scientific observation.
In Geography and History they will learn about holiday celebrations and customs that people around the world use to celebrate using foods, songs and dance. They will learn about land forms, map work and flags of all the nations of the world. Montessori believed that children love to learn about the big picture the whole world.
Children learn the balance between the freedom of the individual and the concerns of the group. Other social behaviors that flourish is a sense of responsibility for ones own behavior, respect for others and care of the environment.
The children are free to move around the classroom and from room to room. They are free to choose activities that are vigorously active or quieter and calm all throughout the day.
Through this natural physical activity, they expend energy and develop large and small muscle control and coordination.
At this age usually after lunch they go out for a long play period. Yoga and calisthenics and musical movement are a part of the weekly physical education.