Primary Curriculum: Ages 3 to kindergarten
Our primary program is for children from age 3 to 1st grade. The different areas covered in a Montessori environment in the primary program are listed below. These areas are taught at different levels for kindergarten and elementary students.
Practical Life is designed to instill independence, self-confidence, self-esteem, and most importantly, self-control. Practical Life activities are a link to the child’s home environment. They develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Practical Life skills are the foundation of the Montessori curriculum; they are developed through a number of activities such as:
- Care of Person (personal care, dressing, frames, and grooming).
- Care of Environment (cleaning and polishing).
- Food Preparation.
- Fine Motor Development (pouring, squeezing, twisting, sewing, and hammering).
- Gross Motor Development
The sensorial area includes materials that help refine the senses, and it contains many activities that involve seriation and gradation. Exploration, imitation, initiation, and pattern completion are the objectives of this area. The child explores dimension, shape, color, texture, weight, aroma, taste, pitch, and their relationships through a series of exercises called the sensorial materials. These materials isolate various qualities so that the child can experience each one individually. The materials are largely self-correcting so the child can accomplish the exercises alone. Moreover, they are structured, building on what has been previously learned. A sense of order is found in these materials, and the child acquires the joy of learning that their environment also has order. The Sensorial Lessons consist of:
- Auditory Learning (sound).
- Visual Learning (color, size, shape, gradation).
- Tactile Learning (texture, weight, temperature).
- Learning Through Smell (olfactory – ability to distinguish between and match scents).
- Learning Through Taste (gustatory- ability to distinguish between salty, sweet, sour).
A phonics-based approach is used for reading. We also incorporate sight words and whole language when it is appropriate. Each area in language has activities that emphasize beginning, middle, and ending sounds, word building, and reading words. Handwriting is a built-in feature of the language area, and children learn to write as they are learning the sounds. At his own pace, the child pursues each of the separate skills involved in the mastery of reading and writing. The Language Lessons consist of:
- Auditory Preparation —conversation with children, storytelling (sequencing), poetry (rhymes and finger plays), auditory discrimination, listening skills, identifying sounds.
- Visual Preparation — recognizing patterns, matching, and sorting.
- Motor Preparation — eye to hand coordination, strengthening of the hand, manuscript writing.
- Analysis — phonogram sounds blends.
- Reading on Word Level — phonics reading in context.
- Correct Expression — vocabulary of objects, attributes, and actions.
- Function of Words — beginning writing, noun and verb identification (introduced).
The Montessori mathematical materials isolate each concept and introduce it to the child in a concrete form using manipulative equipment. Children first learn to associate each numerical symbol with the proper quantity. The child progresses one step at a time to a more abstract understanding of the concepts of arithmetic. The materials are designed with such precision as to allow the child to internalize the process through tactile and visual contact and to work independently in his or her mind. The awareness of detail gained in the Practical Life area and the decision making skills learned in the Sensorial area help the child refine his use of the math materials. The Math area allows the child to develop thinking, reasoning, and problem solving skills. The math lessons consist of:
- Numeration — counting numerals 1-9, recognition of numerals.
- The Decimal System — decimal introduction, association of place values, understanding the concept of 10.
- Linear Counting — visual recognition of 1-1000, teens, tens, and 100 identification, counting with materials.
- Four Operations — decimal system, introduces concepts of four operations using golden beads: units, tens, hundreds, thousands with respect to addition, multiplication, subtraction, division.
- Abstraction — The Bridge: After manipulating the golden beads for operations work, the child becomes ready to recognize the symbolic value of the stamp material.
- Memorization — actual memorization of the complete tables does not begin until the elementary level. These activities are intended to provide exploration of numbers and quantities while also providing numerous opportunities for repetition and engaging the mind for memory.
Science is a hands-on activity which includes biology, botany, zoology, and physical science. The children have organized time outdoors to study nature. Montessori classes work on small gardens, window boxes, or tubs in which flowers and vegetables can be grown. Other science activities include:
- Differentiation between living and non-living things.
- Differentiation between animals and plants; basic characteristics.
- First puzzles representing the biological parts of flowers, root systems and trees, along with the anatomical features of common animals. These puzzles are first used by very young children as a means to learn the vocabulary. For older children, they are related to photos and/or the “real thing,” then traced onto paper, and finally labeled as a reading experience.
- Nomenclature Cards.
- Botany: identifying, naming, and labeling the parts of plants, trees, leaves, roots, and flowers.
- Zoology: identifying, naming, and labeling the external parts of human beings, insects, fish, birds, and other animals.
- Introduction of the families of the animal kingdom, and identification and classification of animals into the broad families. Introduction to the basic characteristics, life-styles, habitats, and means of caring for young of each family in the animal kingdom.
This area contains puzzle maps of the World and its continents. Children have the opportunity to learn the names, flags, and locations of countries. There is a heavy emphasis on cultural aspects, and parents are encouraged to share their culture and customs in the classroom.
- The Primary Globes: The primary globes are specially prepared for the very young child to isolate single concepts of globe study. The children learn how land and water are presented, and they are taught to recognize the corresponding shapes of the continents that they learned from the puzzle maps.
- The Puzzle Maps: These are specially made maps in the forms of intricate, color-coded, wooden jigsaw puzzles representing the continent, the countries of each continent, and the states of the U.S. They are presented to the children at an early age, and they are at first enjoyed simply as challenging puzzles. As soon as the children can read, they begin to lay the puzzle pieces out and place the appropriate name labels to each piece as a reading and geography exercise.
- Land and Water Formations: These materials are designed to help the very young child understand basic land and water formations such as island, isthmus, peninsula, strait, lake, cape, bay, archipelago, etc.
- Transference to Maps: Introduction to written names and various forms of maps, along with early study of the flora, fauna, landscapes, and people of the continents.
- An introduction to humankind’s search to understand how the Earth was formed, from creation stories to the evidence of contemporary scientific research: origins, geologic forces, formations of the oceans and atmosphere, continental drift and tectonic plates, volcanoes, earthquakes, the ice ages, and the formation of mountain ranges.