The Primary Program
The Primary (Casa) program is a mixed-age classroom for children aged 2.5 to 6 years of age. From three to approximately six years of age Dr. Montessori found that children have sponge-like minds that absorb information easily. She called this the absorbent mind. They’re predisposed towards learning things like order, sequencing, language, music, letters, shapes and sounds which eventually lead to math, writing and reading skills. They demonstrate an innate desire to make choices themselves and accomplish tasks independently – the “Me do! Me do!” phase.
The Primary, or Casa, Montessori classroom enables children to do tasks for themselves. Materials are set out on low shelves, open and available to each child. They are attractive and colorful and call to the child “Come and use me!” Ample materials, child-sized tables and chairs, space on the floor to work – these are features of Montessori schools. There is a set of materials for the children to use in several basic categories of learning:
There is a lot of light and children are working on different activities in a calm and focused manner. They are able to work independently and harmoniously. The teacher, or the Directress, as referred to in a Montessori class, is on the periphery at most times. The role of the directress is to guide the energies of the child and assist the child to connect with the work that they need to fulfil their development.
The Montessori materials are concrete abstractions which allow the children to have hands-on, multisensory experiences of abstract concepts. This deep connection with the materials and their concepts lays a solid foundation upon which the rest of their employees ducation will build. The materials in a Montessori prepared environment were selected because she observed children choosing them year after year, in country after country. They meet developmental needs and assist the child’s growth in specific ways.
Dr Montessori found that a child between the ages of 3 and 6 has an “Absorbent Mind”. That is, they are easily able to absorb and learn new concepts, much more so than an adult. You can observe it in your children - their ability to learn to crawl, walk and speak with no formal instruction is incredible. In addition to the learning gained from the Montessori environment, we also introduce an element of language in the Primary class, with English, Spanish and Mandarin-speaking teachers who work with the children to develop these languages.
Our Primary Classroom consists of 4 programs:
Preschool Morning (8:30 - 11:45am)
Preschool Afternoon (12:30 - 3:45pm)
Preschool Extended Day (8:30 - 3:45pm)
Kindergarten (8:30 - 3:45pm)
Younger children generally start for a half-day, in either the Morning or Afternoon. As they get older and more comfortable in the classroom, they are ready for the full day, or Extended Day program.
A child starts Kindergarten during the the school year starting in September when they are 5 years of age. Regardless of the program the child attends, they are all part of the same mixed-age classroom environment, the elder children teaching the younger and the younger looking up to the elders as mentors.
Growing up in a Montessori environment is like being in a family. When children enter into the Extended Day Program and Kindergarten, they often become the child teacher who learns by teaching, reinforcing their knowledge by showing what they know to a younger child. The children care for each other while at the same time caring for the environment together. The classroom is the children’s place, a small society, a place where they can learn, clean, love and enjoy.
Much like the “grand finale” of a child’s learning and discovery, the program marks the passage from early childhood to childhood. As children grow and develop in a Montessori environment, they eagerly anticipate being in the Extended Day and Kindergarten program and becoming one of the “older children”.