3 to 6 Year Olds
The Primary classroom welcomes children ages 3 to 6 years old. This multi-age class forms a community of 25-30 children all working together or alongside one another. In this type of setup, a 3-year-old can explore a practical life exercise, a 4-year-old can discover the wonders of language skills, and a 5-year-old can write a poem or teach a younger child to trace numbers. The Primary Montessori classroom is divided into sections in which the child is able to explore various subjects:
Practical Life Exercises
These are activities the child sees in his everyday environment. Practical life materials teach the child how to tie, button, snap, zip and use other fastening devices. The child cares for the classroom environment by washing tables and chairs, mopping, dusting and polishing, while developing small and large muscle coordination. Development of the social graces is another important aspect. The child is shown how to be polite, courteous and thoughtful of others. Practical life activities develop and expand the child’s concentration time and provide the foundation of a Montessori education.
The child’s mind receives impressions of his environment through the senses. Small – Smaller,- Smallest is one exercise where a child can understand sizes and dimension. The sensorial material assists this natural process by helping the child to order and classify these impressions. Sensorial materials isolate one specific quality such as color, sound, texture, size, shape, temperature and weight. Sensorial materials include color tablets, cylinder blocks, geometric shapes and solids.
The child’s vocabulary is enriched in the Montessori classroom through the use of objects in the environment, pictures, illustrations, stories, poems, conversation and the sensorial materials. The Montessori child learns to read by the phonics method. Introducing the child to phonics with sandpaper letters allows him to hear the sound, see and feel the shape of the letter and train his muscles for writing. Language cards are used to develop vocabulary, spelling and to expand the child’s knowledge of varied subjects from dinosaurs to art. Our program also includes Hebrew language: vocabulary and spoken, letter recognition and movable alphabet. Reading and writing is introduced at the advanced level.
The math materials give the child a concrete experience before dealing with the abstract. The child is first introduced to the quantity and then the symbol for the numbers 1 through 10, followed by work with the teens and tens. Using beads and number cards, the child learns the basis of the decimal system and is taught the processes of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Only after the child develops a complete understanding of these functions in the concrete, does he begin a gradual process of working with the many math materials that will lead to the more abstract numbers.
Hands-on material gives the child a firm understanding of the physical world. The young child learns the differences between the many land and water forms. Puzzle maps of each continent allow the child to learn the names of all the countries and later their capitals. Cultural lessons designed around the maps are used to teach history. Stories capture the child’s imagination and help him learn about the world. Years later, Montessori students report how easy it is for them to remember names of countries and cities around the world because of their early experiences with Montessori geography materials.
Art, Nature, Music and Science
The young child is presented with many art projects and simple science experiments. Singing, rhythm games and folk dances are important activities in the Montessori program. The children also learn about famous composers and artists through stories and by listening to their music. The class plants and grows seeds for Tu B’Svat, and learns forms of trees and plants as part of our discoveries.