The school accepts children into the Primary school between the ages of 2½ and 5 years. This encompasses Preschool through Kindergarten and includes French lessons five days a week. Each classroom has a maximum enrollment of 20 students, with a full-time teacher and assistant (1 to 10 ratio). To assure your child’s readiness and to answer any questions you may have it is strongly recommended that a classroom observation be arranged.
Primary Curriculum –
Practical Life lessons are presented first to the child to form a foundation for the other areas in the environment. These exercises are the child’s introduction to the prepared environment of the Montessori classroom designed for children 2 ½ years to 6 years old. The child will be presented exercises in four areas –
- care of the environment, such as washing a table
- care of the person, such as dressing frames
- social relations, offered as grace and courtesy lessons
- analysis and control of movement, such as walking on the line.
Through the sensorial material, the child is given presentations to make classifications for all the information she has gathered thus far through her sensory perceptions. The sensorial materials are materialized abstractions of the universe to help the child classify information or generalizations.
Exercises will be presented for all five senses –
- visual, such as the Pink Tower
- tactile – touch tables
- auditory – sound boxes
- olfactory – smelling jars
- taste—tasting bottles
Language exercises are offered to aid the child’s development of language. During the time the child is a part of this environment, she will go through three stages of language: expansion of vocabulary, writing, and reading. All the work of the spoken language is the preparation for writing, which is the mode of language in which the child is able to express something within her in a visual form. After the child explodes into writing, she will discover reading as she begins to synthesize sound. Reading is much more complex than writing, for now the letters of a word are mentally taken apart and put back together. Thus, a child will be offered exercises to expand her vocabulary, introduce phonetic sounds, followed by exercises to progress her reading and grammar with didactic materials in addition to interpretive reading. The goal is to present children with avenues for total reading.
Everyone, by nature is mathematical. We are all born with a mathematical mind. The child is introduced to the exercises for mathematics through number work progression; introduction to numbers; 0-9; the decimal system, and teens and tens work. With the decimal system work the child is introduced to addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. These series of exercises help the child to understand the process before the memorization of it. After the child is comfortable with using the process with concrete materials, she will be offered exercises to aid them in the for memory work for each math function, moving into the area of abstraction. It is at this bridge that mathematics becomes a cognitive process.
The purpose of the art area is to provide a variety of art media for the child to use for self-expression. The child will be shown how to use the instrument and one-to-two things you can do with it. At that point the child is free to create. Exercises for art appreciation and history will often be included in many other areas in the classroom.
The purpose of biology in the Primary Montessori classroom is to guide the child’s natural exploration from mystery to mystery, revelation to revelation, and wonder to wonder. The biology exercises help the child to form an appreciation of life and an awareness of the interdependence and interrelatedness of nature. These exercises will guide the child’s observations of nature and help establish a framework.
Geography exercises in the Primary Montessori classroom introduce the child to his place in the cosmos. In physical geography, the children learn about land and water formations. The political geography exercises help the child understand her relationship to the rest of the world. Global maps are introduced first, then continents and countries. Other exercises will introduce the culture of countries around the world.
History exercises are designed to awaken interest in the child of long ago. The presentations of the passage of time and how it is recorded or kept. The child is given these exercises to help her attach a scheme of how to attach language to this passage of time.
When Maria Montessori first worked with children in her “Casa de Bambini” the Italic print was used. It is believed that this was the reason that the children “exploded” into writing. Italic letters are easy to form as they are based on elliptical shapes conforming to the natural way a hand moves, and requiring few lifts of the pencil. For a child to move from the traditional print letters to cursive requires them to learn all fifty-two letter forms. When a child moves from print Italic to cursive Italic, however, it requires only the addition of serifs and diagonal joining strokes.
The steps to understanding music are absorption, exploration and composition. Absorption is best accomplished through watching and listening. Exploration is accomplished through imitation, singing and directed lessons. Composition occurs when the child puts the elements of music (rhythm, pitch, intensity and tonal quality) together. A combination of the intellectual and sensorial approaches help the child move to this final state. The understanding of the basic elements lead naturally to the discussion of the same elements in poetry and language.
When children enter the Primary Montessori classroom, they have had many observations about phenomena in physical science, but no experience with it. We offer them science in a way that they can experience it, with science exercises that give them things they can see. These exercises are given in a controlled way for the child to have opportunities to study, explore, and gain an impression of basic physical laws of nature.
French is the second language taught at Skinner Elementary Montessori. The school has developed its own phonetic French program modeled on the Montessori method for teaching English and has received national recognition through the National French Contest. More information about the French program.