What will my Primary student do each day?

The brain of a young child is like a sponge, absorbing knowledge about the world in every moment of the day. Countless scientific studies have shown that early childhood education is the most important time of learning for a child. There are lifelong benefits to exposing your child to a beautiful, well-designed learning environment during the preschool and kindergarten years.

In our classroom, the youngest students begin learning through Practical Life materials. These are the kinds of things they are familiar with seeing at home: washing dishes, scrubbing tables, sweeping up spills, polishing wood, slicing bananas, and folding laundry. The youngest children enjoy caring for their classroom and joining in the big tasks they have seen adults do.

Then, they begin to add work with the Sensorial materials, classroom work especially designed to use all five of the child's senses. The children build with blocks made to provide an introduction to numbers and geometry. The teacher introduces them to smells, sounds, and tastes, that they may not be familiar with. A scientist needs her senses to work well in order to study the world, and our youngest children were born scientists, ready to take in an understanding of the world.

Practical Life and Sensorial materials are unique to Montessori, and the children are also exposed to subjects more common in traditional classrooms: science, geography, math, reading, and art. In our classroom, however, all the learning about these subjects comes through using hands-on materials. A student may study the parts of a butterfly by doing a puzzle and naming the parts during the process; then practice writing by creating a book identifying each of the butterfly parts. A student may learn about place value by working with the Golden Beads: single beads for one, bars of ten beads, squares of one hundred beads, and cubes of one thousand beads. Everything in the classroom is designed to be attractive and engaging.

Once a child is shown how to use a material, he can choose that material any time in the classroom and use it for as long as he would like. Children need time and space to explore what interests them most without being interrupted.

Our outdoor classroom is a place of more free play and discovery. This space was designed to be as natural as possible in our urban location, with mature trees, garden plants to water, areas for digging for bugs, boards and stumps to construct with, a large tree house for climbing, a sandpit for digging, and a water pump.

What will my Elementary student do each day?

Because Montessori students can dive into topics that interest them most, each day in the classroom becomes full of possibility and excitement. The teacher creates an environment full of engaging materials, teases the imaginations of the students with stories of history and science, and then supports the students in their own personal discoveries as they ask questions and seek out the answers.

Cosmic Education begins during Elementary. This method of learning is unique to Montessori: the children hear Great Stories that introduce them to the elements of science and history. As they are interested in various topics they hear about, the children begin projects that use all the different school subjects at once. A child that is interested in volcanoes may use clay to make his own volcano, measuring and calculating amounts, improving reading skills by researching earth science, and learning more about geography by reading a map to find out where volcanoes exist today. Cosmic Education unifies all the traditional school subjects, making learning more similar to real life experiences, and helps the child understand their place in the universe.

In addition to following their own interests in the classroom, children are given the responsibility to improve of the traditional skills like reading and math. Beautiful materials help the children gain a firm understanding of arithmetic and geometry. The children need to study all the different areas of the classroom, but they are given the freedom to choose when. The classroom is a busy place with each student choosing how they will spend their time with the guidance of the teacher.

Montessori students continue their Cosmic Education by Going Out into the community and city to learn more about subjects that interest them. When many children begin to ask questions about a particular topic, they may go out to a place to learn more about it: the water treatment plant, a local nature center, an art museum, an instrument repair shop, a nearby lagoon; the possibilities are endless!

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