The Primary program is for children between the ages of 2 years 6 months to 6 years.
In this mixed-age environment children spend three years in the same classroom getting to know each other and their teachers well. The continuity that this offers makes for a strong classroom community, both for children and parents alike.
The 3-6 year old goes through an intense period of change, including the transition to more complex social interactions, a language explosion leading to beginning skills in writing and reading, the emergence of number sense and the foundations of math, as well as great changes in physical development. The Montessori teacher responds to these changes in social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development, with appropriate lessons to support each child’s growth and emerging capabilities.
Primary children learn by doing. Concrete materials let children explore the world through their senses, through touch and motion, and by observing and engaging with others. Teachers guide students through the curriculum, introducing lessons and then letting children practice what they have learned. As children grow, the classroom materials grow with them in the sense that older children use the materials to explore the curriculum in new and deeper ways.
There is dynamic interaction between the various curriculum areas of the Montessori classroom. While each area emphasizes specific skills, children’s developing skills and knowledge are relevant in exploring other areas of the curriculum as well. This connection between different areas of curriculum enhances children’s natural interest and enthusiasm.
Practical Life activities are central to the Montessori classroom and prepare the child for all other areas. The emphasis is on practicing skills and the process is more important than the product. Practical Life Exercises give children the opportunity to refine their fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, hand strength, balance, concentration and ability to do things for themselves. Through the repetition of Practical Life activities, children develop independence and practical skills that will serve them all their lives. Some of the Primary Practical Life exercises include pouring, lacing, flower arranging, food preparation and serving.
Language pervades the Montessori classroom and crosses all curriculum areas. The young child is introduced to the names of things, sounds and letters, while the older child may be beginning to read. Language materials are often tactile, taking advantage of the three and four year old’s sensitivity to learning through touch. Writing is brought to the Montessori child through the use of concrete materials, like the pre-cut letters of the Moveable Alphabet, that allow her to express her knowledge without needing precise control of a pencil.
Sensorial materials are designed to help children refine their impressions of qualities like colour, size, shape, length, texture, smell, taste and sound. 3-6 year olds are increasingly able to make finer discriminations of the many stimuli all around them and becoming acute observers of the world.
Concrete materials are used to introduce mathematical concepts in the Montessori classroom. Children build their abstract mathematical reasoning skills on these early concrete experiences. They learn how a numeral represents an amount. They manipulate objects to experience operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication and diviion. These exercises cater to children’s developing sense of order, sequence, one-to-one correspondence and directionality.
Geography is an important part of the Montessori curriculum. The curriculum begins with the two hemispheres of Earth and becomes more detailed as children learn about continents, and then countries, including their flora, fauna, costume, art, food and other aspects of the life of a people. The very young child will use the wooden puzzle maps as puzzles, but the older child can use the pieces as a guide as he makes his own maps, labelled with his own handwriting when he is ready.
Science and Nature
Children are introduced to many topics and learn to make observations and predictions in their Science and Nature activities. The Science and Nature curriculum is designed not only to help children discover facts, but to honour the sense of wonder they have about the world.
The Primary classroom includes an ever changing selection of art and creative activities for children. Learning about great artists, beginning colour theory work and gaining experience with different techniques, like collage making, cutting with scissors, working with stamps, crayons and paint, are all part of the Art curriculum.
Music is as much as a part of our environment, as mathematics or language.
Musical instruments, pieces of music composed by various Indian and Western composers, cards of various instruments classified according to the type of instrument, are some of the activities to be found in the usic curriculum.
Singing and gaining exposure to different kinds of music form a vital part of the child’s experience.
Grace and Courtesy
In the Montessori classroom, children and adults take care to be gracious toward and courteous of one another. This area of the curriculum encourages respect for oneself, for other members of the community, for the living things around them, and for the environment. It also offers children practical guidance on how to function independently in the larger society. Carrying things carefully, returning them to their place so others may use them, moving gracefully and carefully, using polite and respectful language, properly introducing oneself, and interrupting politely are all part of the lessons in Grace and Courtesy.