THE PRESCHOOL CLASSROOM

Pre-school ages 2.9-5


The Montessori Pre-school– also known as the pre-primary level –is a gathering of children who live and learn together in a well prepared environment that offers choices of individual activities that aid the child’s ability to become independent and focused “workers”. The Montessori teacher cultivates in the children the ability to choose freely, to sustain focus and enhance concentration, to think clearly and constructively, and to express themselves through language and the arts. Self-discipline as well as grace and courtesy are introduced and cultivated in the classroom community.

The areas of activity on the pre-primary level are practical life, sensorial exploration, language, mathematics, and cultural subjects. The extensive sets of Montessori materials in each of these areas are designed to appeal to the children’s deep interest and to inspire repeated activity. The fact that Montessori materials and activities have often never been seen by a student only adds to their natural curiosity and desire to engage with all of the materials offered in the classroom. The children’s absorbent minds take in vast amounts of information and they are able to grasp sophisticated relationships and principles wholly and effortlessly.

Montessori believes that there is a “sensitive period” in each child from the ages of 3-6. During this time the children experience great joy in educating themselves. They become normalized and reveal characteristics seldom recognized as typical of young children. Over the pre-school cycle, children develop expertise, become leaders of their community and manage the social and practical affairs of their classroom.


Pre-School: The Areas of Activity

Practical Life

The exercises in Practical Life are the very heart of Montessori education. As young children wash tables, pour liquids, polish silver, sweep,dust and participate in food preparation, they are developing the inner aptitudes of calmness, order, concentration, coordination and find motor skills.

At the same time, through the process of learning to meet their own needs, learning to take care of the classroom environment, and through the experience of helping others, children in Montessori programs begin to develop independence, self-confidence, and self-respect.



Sensorial

The sensorial area of the Montessori classroom provides the child an opportunity to categorize and refine his/her senses and to broaden the child’s intelligence. The classroom and the sensorial apparatus that is used within a class allow the child to isolate the senses. This isolation is done because young children are unable to distinguish between all of the stimuli that he/she encounters. Through the isolation of the senses the child can use his hand, eyes, nose, ears and mouth to actively explore the objects within their environment.

The sensorial material, as is most of the Montessori equipment found in the classroom is auto-educated and auto-corrected; meaning the control of error lies within the material. It is very obvious to the child if an error was made. This allows the child to teach him or herself.

The exercises in “sensory education” are also laying a foundation for future writing and math skills. This is the child’s first introduction to quantity and the material is presented on a mat or table in a left to right fashion.

The early years of a child’s life are marked with rapid physical and mental development and the child has an innate desire to learn. Therefore, it is our duty to provide the child activities that they need. Sensory education is very important at this stage of life. The child is not yet interested in the reason of intellectual activity but is more interested in the stimuli surrounding the child throughout the day. Additionally, the subtle increases in the child’s attention span working in the sensorial area of the classroom better prepares them for the more challenging work that lies ahead of them.


Language

A key component of the Montessori Method is mixed age groups. All children want to do what the “big kids” can do, and as the intriguing work that absorbs the older children involves reading, there is a natural lure for the young child. The materials are simplistic to begin; simply learning sounds, and graduates to complex word building skills, often at a level at least two years beyond their age. Mastery of basic skills normally develops so smoothly that students tend to exhibit a sudden “explosion into reading”, which leaves our young students, not to mention their families, beaming with pride. Not only are the children readers, but they have a profound love of the process, beginning the life-long love of reading; the very foundation of a successful educational journey through college. 95% of students will read in the pre-school environment.

Math

A 3 ½ or 4-year old child is fascinated with manipulating things, with patterns and with small objects. He enjoys repeating activities, and exploring concrete items with his hands. Our Montessori math program builds upon this developmental phase: we introduce preschool children to the fascinating world of numbers through enjoyable activities, which are carefully designed to impart mathematical knowledge to our students.

By starting early, and drawing on the child’s natural interests, we enable our students to gain a head start in numeracy. More importantly they gain a confidence in their own ability to do math and to do it well. Instead of the math phobias that many children acquire in elementary school, where arithmetic operations are introduced as abstract and mechanistic operations to be memorized even if not understood, our students master the basics of arithmetic using concrete materials. They therefore acquire a grounded understanding of the meaning of these operations. Students have a double advantage: they have learned many mathematical concepts and math facts typically only taught in 2nd or 3rd grade, before they even enter elementary school andthey have learned to enjoy math!

Cultural Studies

The introduction to cultural subjects is made as extensions of the sensorial materials and language activities. Your child will be engaged in delightful activities such as art, music, geography, history, botany, zoology, and science.Students learn about physical and political geography through nature, story, music, art, and food. Parents are wonderful teachers and graciously offer their time and talents presenting their various cultures to the students throughout the year therebyinstilling in them the similarities that unite all people on the planet.


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