In Montessori Primary (3-6 years)
Students begin the Practical Life area, developing concentration, hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and logical sequencing skills, through purposeful work. Students are also working in the Sensorial area, developing the ability to use each sense with intention and to discover the world. We also build vocabulary and develop phonemic awareness (awareness that words are composed of sounds) in the Language area. As children develop this awareness, they are learning the letter-sound correspondences that lead to spontaneous writing, which will be followed by reading. The children’s work also includes concrete exploration of quantity (size, weight, etc.) and changes in quantity- the foundation for mathematics.
Young children are also learning through observing their older peers, receiving some lessons from them, as well as guidance for how to behave.
Children are continuing to develop reading and writing abilities, continuing to work with phonetic sounds with increasing accuracy and with words of increasing complexity. They are also continuing their Sensorial exploration of complex concepts, including geometry and geography. In the early stages of Math, we work begin with the hands on materials to teach quantity, the symbols we use to represent quantity (numerals), then the concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Children are also continuing to work in Practical Life, as the sequences of activities lead the children to work that is appropriate for their developing skills. As their ability to remember long sequences of steps, or complete activities requiring very precise fine motor skills, they will be introduced to an activity that continues to challenge them to further develop these abilities.
As second year children, students will begin to take on more of a leadership role and start to do more work with others that requires an increasing amount of independence and practicing social skills.
As reading and writing skills continue to develop, children are improving fluency by learning alternative spellings (ex: ‘ie’ can be spelled ‘igh’ as in ‘high’, ‘y’ as in ‘sky’) and sight words. They also learn grammatical concepts and explore the ways that different words function in sentences. Through reading and writing stories, comprehension skills are developed. In the Math, children continue to move from concrete, hands-on materials, to those that are increasingly abstract. When this comes together, children discover that they can solve large math problems or word problems quickly without the use of a material or their fingers. Their knowledge of quantity increases from 9,000 to 1,000,000 and they also work with fractions. In Sensorial and Practical Life, children are using the materials with more awareness- using the Puzzle Maps to find a country they are reading about or using the Baric Tablets to measure and classify the weights of other objects, or taking greater ownership in maintaining the classroom.
As the elders, they are guiding younger children, gaining confidence and a strong sense of self. Secure in the knowledge they are gaining and with a sense of pride in their accomplishments, they share what they have learned, academically and socially, with others.
Through observing the children’s work and assessing their skills, the guides provide support where needed and show the next lesson in a sequence when appropriate. As each child is unique, each will have their own challenges and their own strengths. This overview is a general outline, explaining the pattern of development as the child moves through the classroom.