Primary (PK3 - K)
**Please be advised that ALL students must be potty-trained in order to participate in our program**
Imagine your three-year-old mixing it up with kindergarten-age children, using a kitchen knife all by themselves, and making their own decisions about what they’d like to work on next. Those are a few of the hallmarks of a Montessori primary classroom — and for many children, this emphasis on independence, skill-building, and freedom within limits is a wonderful path to learning. Here’s more information to help you decide if your child might flourish in a Montessori primary environment.
What is the Montessori approach?
Developed over 100 years ago in Italy by Dr. Maria Montessori, this educational philosophy is devoted to developing the whole child (emotionally, cognitively, physically, and socially) through interaction rather than direct instruction. And though any school can call itself “Montessori,” the method has some unique distinguishing characteristics:
- Multi-age classrooms: In a Montessori primary classroom, children are commonly grouped together from ages three through six (PK3 - K), creating a community in which younger children learn from older ones and the older children reinforce what they know by sharing it with others. A trained Montessori guide typically stays with a child for all three years, so they get to know each other very well.
- Montessori learning materials: Child-sized, developmentally appropriate items designed to help children learn specific concepts and skills are an integral part of the Montessori curriculum. For example, kids explore counting with small colored beads and practical life skills with mini kitchen utensils and cleaning tools. Cleanliness, order, and a layout that facilitates movement are also important parts of the classroom environment.
- Independent work: A Montessori classroom is a busy place with a lot of tempting things to do; it’s not the standard teachers-talk, children-listen situation. Instead, the guides introduce materials to small groups and then children decide on their own which materials to use and when. During “work time,” guides observe what the students are doing, offering guidance when needed, while encouraging children to overcome challenges on their own or with the help from a buddy. This style allows for a fairly large number of students per teacher, since the classmates act as teachers too.
A typical day in a Montessori classroom allows for a large block of work time that is central to the Montessori approach. During this two- to three-hour period, children choose materials, complete their tasks, and put materials back neatly so others can have a turn. Before and after work time, there is usually a group meeting; where there is the setting of expectations, group discussions, presentations by teachers or students, books, songs, etc. If there is a morning snack, it may be served communally (by the children), or students may have the option to take a short break from their work to eat (and clean up!) their own snack. Towards the end of the morning, there is time for physically active play, usually outside. If children stay for lunch, they help prepare, serve, and clean up the meal as much as possible. They have rest time after lunch.
With the Montessori approach each child works at their own pace and follows their own interests, which helps instill a love of learning and a strong sense of curiosity.