WHY MONTESSORI FOR PRIMARY SCHOOL?
We believe true education retains the magic and joy of learning throughout every stage of a child’s development toward becoming a responsible member of society. It is in that spirit that our Primary (Pre-K through Kindergarten) Program has been developed, integrating student-centered learning with purposeful work and social-emotional development in a respectful, loving, thoughtfully-prepared environment.
Our 3-6 year olds are served through:
Montessori method uses a phonetic approach to teach reading skills. As with all Montessori topics, the children manipulate learning materials to engage as many senses as possible, connecting letters to sounds, shapes, and colors. They begin by learning the most common sound of each letter through a combination of one-on-one instruction and the multi-sensorial input of sandpaper letters. They are taught to distinguish between consonant and vowel sounds, both through visual and phonetic means. Once they have mastered some letter sounds, children use a “moveable alphabet” to build simple three letter words.
Almost everything in the Montessori classroom leads to handwriting. Development of fine-motor coordination is encouraged through the grasping required in manipulating many of the classroom materials. The left-to-right, top-to-bottom organization of writing and reading is repeated in most classroom work activities as well as in the shelf organization of those activities. Writing itself is taught as children progress from tracing letters in sand, to writing on whiteboards, and different sizes of easels. Eventually, they progress to using lined paper and multi-page journals. Overall language growth is stimulated through regular reading aloud of both fiction and non-fiction books. The labeling of classroom materials encourages sight reading, and vocabulary is built through group lessons on engaging topics in the social sciences, geography, science and the arts.
“Sensorial” materials and activities encourage classification through visual, auditory, olfactory, and tactile impressions. Fine tuning visual discrimination skills will allow the child to easily distinguish between similarly formed letters for reading. Discovering patterns, similarities and differences builds a strong foundation for increasingly complex math skills. Fine tuning the senses enables precise observation and orderly thought patterns which lay the foundation of math, language, geometry, geography, science, art and music.
Map-making is a fun part of the Montessori curriculum. Through detailed engagement with the shapes of continental and national borders, colorful puzzles, globes, and topical lessons and books, children learn about physical geography.
The diversity of our world is celebrated in the classroom. Stories, artifacts, food, music, and art teach children to understand and respect differences between people and cultures, as well as to recognize the similarities that unify us.
“Practical life” activities encourage motor skill development, coordination, concentration, independence, and a sense of order. These activities build the hand strength needed to hold a pencil and write, the sequencing abilities needed to read, and grow the attention span and memory to accommodate academic challenges that lie ahead.
From the earliest days in the Montessori classroom, children have the opportunity to explore basic math concepts like classifying, patterning, one-to-one correspondence, and rote counting. They progress to associating symbols with quantities, identifying “odds and evens,” understanding place value, and skip or linear counting. Children are introduced to two- and three-dimensional geometric shapes such as circles and spheres, squares and cubes, triangles and pyramids, ovals and ovoids. They learn the use of clocks and money. Montessori classrooms are filled with beautiful, engaging materials to explore addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, eventually moving from the concrete to the abstract.
Children explore biology and physical science through hands-on classroom activities with magnets, simple machines, minerals, water and sand. Both indoor and outdoor activities caring for plants and animals introduce basic concepts of the biological sciences, including observation of the life cycles of chickens and butterflies each spring. Study of the solar system includes a trip to Parkland Planetarium.
Montessori Directresses incorporate singing, movement, dance, yoga, sign language, musical instruments, and art appreciation into their daily group lessons. Third-year students begin learning Spanish; Kindergarten students attend a concert at Krannert Center after learning about the instruments of an orchestra. All faculty and staff model and teach respect, polite behavior, empathy, compassion, and responsibility. Montessori education has been proven to enhance kindness and cooperation between children. Peace education is a unifying theme for Montessori schools around the world.
LEARNING STRUCTURE & GENERAL SCHEDULE
Each Montessori morning class begins at 8:30 am, with an optional 7:30-8:30am early care time (additional cost applies). Each class is composed of approximately 21 children in a multi-age group of three, four and five year olds. There is a Montessori directress and an assistant teacher in each classroom. A nutritious snack, usually of fresh fruit/vegetables and whole-grain crackers, is served in the morning. Healthy outdoor play is an important part of the morning from approximately 10:40am-11:40am, weather permitting. The Half Day program ends at 11:30am and families may pick up their children anytime between 11:30am-11:45am.
The nap room (for Pre-K students who need a nap), afternoon Montessori class (for pre-K students who do not need an afternoon nap), and kindergarten enrichment class operate from 11:30am to 2:30 pm. Each afternoon Montessori class has a Montessori directress and an assistant teacher, with a maximum of 21 students in each room. Kindergarten academics are handled in the morning classrooms, but kindergarteners have the opportunity to engage in the afternoon kindergarten enrichment program with just their kindergarten peers, taught by a Montessori directress. In these afternoon classes, students eat lunch together until about 12:15pm, then engage in their room’s activities until 2:30pm. The Montessori Primary program ends at 2:30pm and families may pick up their children anytime between 2:25pm and 2:35pm. Extracurricular classes are offered on campus after school for families who are interested and whose children meet the instructors’ age/skill criteria (extra cost applies).
For our Primary students who need afterschool daycare (additional cost applies), we offer Aftercare classes from 2:30pm-5:30pm. A nutritious afternoon snack is provided just as in the morning, and outdoor play is emphasized when the weather permits. Music, dance, art, crafts, and more are just some of the activities Primary students in Aftercare are able to enjoy. Those who choose to participate in separate extracurricular classes in addition to Aftercare will be picked up by the extracurricular instructor from the Aftercare program and returned to the Aftercare Program after class. Families may pick up anytime between 2:30pm-5:30pm.