Our children in the primary program learn through observation and discovery. They are aided by the wide variety of Montessori materials in a carefully prepared environment. Which includes reading, writing, math, biology, history, geography, science, art, and music. For the very small children, there are also exercises for increasing spoken vocabulary, improving coordination and concentration, and developing each of the five senses.
The children are encouraged to use the skills and knowledge they gain from working with the Montessori materials in creative ways. The Montessori classroom is an open classroom for children of mixed ages and abilities. Each child works at his or her own rate and is never under pressure to compete with others. As the child grows toward self-discipline he is allowed to move about, talk and work with whatever materials he wishes, provided he uses them properly.
“The most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to the age of six.” ~Maria Montessori
Practical Life exercises encompass the total environment, indoors and out. There are three aims for the Montessori exercises in the practical life area of the classroom; the first is the child’s orientation and adaptation to his environment. This carefully prepared environment is not only comprised of the concrete materials, but also Grace & Courtesy Lessons. These aid the child in orienting and adapting to their social environment as well.
The second aim of practical life lessons is refinement of motor coordination both gross (rolling a rug) and fine (spooning rice.) Practical Life activities are purposeful with an intelligent aim; the mind is engaged to direct the body to perform the task correctly and in sequence.
Finally, the third aim of the Practical Life exercises help each child develop independence, and the greatest gift to give a child is to help them develop their conscious will. This is how the child becomes self-disciplined. Accomplishing a task independently, the child has pride, a positive self-image and confidence, giving the child a deep sense of self worth.
Through different activities using the Montessori materials throughout the classroom, the children acquire new experiences in their environment that help to refine all five senses. Since birth, the child has learned through his senses through exploration of the world around him.
The Montessori Sensorial materials relate to the child’s energy when he is motivated to seek experiences in the environment to connect properties revealed by the materials. In manipulating objects, the child better understands his environment and is helped to make abstractions by making classifications, and distinctions in the world around us. Through exploration of the physical world, the child then abstracts the properties of color, dimension or texture and strengthens his ability to bring his movements under conscious control.
During the first years of life, it is important to use the correct terminology and clear pronunciation of words when speaking to your child, who acquires language through his Absorbent Mind. Because the primary-age child (2½ to 6 years) has the use of language prior to entering the classroom, they are ready to explore written forms of language, whereby the child (by age 6) will understand that words have meaning and can be used in creative writing to both express his own ideas, and to comprehend the thoughts of others.
Preliminary language lessons include sound games, such as emphasizing the sound each letter makes and that certain sounds together make up words. In this way, the child learns to listen carefully to the sounds that make up words, how to say words correctly and in proper context.
Because writing is complex, requiring the coordination of the hand and mind, the child must have fine motor control of movement, which has been developed by the use of hands on Montessori materials. Creating a written word is initially accomplished with the use of the movable alphabet.
The developing child yearns to organize, classify, and abstract. Maria Montessori believed that children can absorb mathematical concepts naturally. Through indirect preparation (Practical Life & Sensorial areas) and repetition of activities with concrete, scientifically developed materials, children experience concepts of order, sequence, measurements, and calculations.
The Montessori math lessons lead the child through progressive hands-on activities, emphasizing concepts while preparing the child for abstraction. The Mathematical Mind refers to the capacity to analyze, organize, and classify experiences in the mind, which enables the child to calculate and judge patterns and relationships between objects in daily life. Through the Absorbent Mind, the child gathers knowledge which is refined through his sensory experiences. As the child develops in the Montessori environment, he is ready to explore more abstract thoughts.
The Montessori study of Cultural Subjects provides children with the opportunity to explore the larger world. Geography is the study of place and how humans have adapted to all of the Earth’s environments. By celebrating other traditions with food, music, cultural artifacts, and stories, children can begin to see the uniqueness of other cultures, yet come to understand how much we all have in common.
Using the large wooden puzzle maps, the children are introduced to the continents and countries in of our world. As they manipulate these puzzle pieces, they learn about each country - where they are located within a certain continent, the peoples who inhabit that region and their local customs (food, clothing, shelter, language, country flag, and cultural traditions), and how they differ from ours. This in turn develops an appreication and understanding of diversity and a broader view of the world.
The sciences are integrated in the overall curriculum with beautiful Montessori materials, as well as experiments the children can perform and explore. These small experiments (“sink & float,” “magnetic & nonmagnetic”) helps them explore these concepts. To promote learning and provide variety, the cultural subject exercises are presented on a rotating curriculum schedule, which often incorporates the current season, such as the spring equinox or holidays (Chinese New Year, Columbus Day, Saint Patrick’s Day, etc.)
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