Greensboro Montessori School
Ages three to six years.
(Includes the Kindergarten year)
The goal of the Primary program at the Greensboro Montessori School is to help the child develop independence and discipline from within while learning new academic and life skills. Children in this program explore basic concepts and discover their own uniqueness in a carefully prepared classroom environment that provides developmentally appropriate materials and activities, along with the right balance of freedom and limits. Well-trained teachers observe children individually in order to see which areas of the classroom they are drawn to and what their interests are. The teachers keep careful records of the child's activities so they may plan lessons accordingly to meet the child's sensitive periods for learning.
Practical Life activities are the foundation for the child's learning in the Montessori classroom. We offer the children opportunities to take care of their own needs, such as polishing their shoes and making their own snacks, and to take care of the needs of their classroom environment; such as watering plants, dusting, and washing their dishes. Learning how to manage these practical life skills bridges the gap between home life and life at school and helps build the child's self-esteem. Carrying out these activities also builds the child's concentration, coordination of movement, sense of order, ability to complete a task and aids the development of the will. These qualities are key to the child's success as she/he grows older and develops more academic interests. Grace and Courtesy lessons, which aid the child's communication skills and social development, teach the child respect for themselves, others and their environment.
Other key components of the Primary curriculum include:
Sensorial Materials: Hands-on, manipulative materials and exercises that stimulate sensory discrimination, observation and descriptive language. These exercises aid the child in organizing and categorizing the sensory impressions she/he receives from the outside world. In many ways, sensorial materials help lay the foundation for introduction to mathematical concepts.
Beginning with phonetic sound recognition, the child learns to read and write by connecting the letter symbol(s) to each sound, de-coding and rebuilding words using movable letters of the alphabet, and by developing the coordination of the hand and wrist with specifically designed materials. There are many opportunities for the child to develop her/his receptive and expressive vocabulary in the Montessori classroom.
Activities include counting and number symbol recognition, basic exercises showing the function of the decimal system and the processes of the four basic mathematical operations. Meticulous design of the sensorial and math materials lays the foundation for the child's later understanding of geometry and algebra.
Central to the primary classroom are experiences which provide the child with opportunities to learn about geography and various cultures, history, music, art, science and nature. In the spirit of inspiring Dr. Montessori’s ultimate vision of peace in the world, the cultural activities help the child respect differences by showing the basic similarities of human beings and other living things.
In order to expose children to a second language during what Maria Montessori called “the sensitive period” for absorbing languages, all GMS Primary classes have Spanish lessons 4 times a week, taught by a native speaking teacher. Kindergarten classes have an additional Spanish class each week in the afternoon.
Children at this young age are enticed by nature. Studies have shown that giving a child the time for unstructured play in nature, enhances a child’s concentration and observation abilities. Children at GMS are given many opportunities to play in the School’s wooded area and gardens. In the Spring and Fall, primary children have gardening classes once a week. They create garden beds, plant, weed, water, harvest and prepare food from the bounty of the gardens. Children gain an understanding of the life cycle of plants, the seasons and the source of the fruits and vegetables they eat. Children at GMS go outside in most any kind of weather. Maria Montessori said, “There is no inappropriate weather for children. There is only inappropriate clothing. “
By spending time in nature, children at this age gain an appreciation for the natural world and, later in their development, are ready to work to preserve it.
Learning to communicate with others in difficult situations is an important life skill and is taken seriously at GMS. As a toddler, the children are taught the words to express their feelings and needs to each other. When children enter the Primary level at the age of 3, they are guided by the teachers or older classmates to use a conflict resolution model when a conflict with their peers arises. The children involved gather at the classroom “Peace Table” to tell their stories about the situation that happened and to initiate ideas for resolution. By the time a child is 5 years of age, she/he is usually able to go through the conflict resolution process independently of a teacher’s help. This process for resolving conflicts is used in the primary through upper elementary classes. In middle school more of a peer mediation model is used if necessary.
There are opportunities for longer lessons and more advanced extensions of work. The afternoon is when those deeper lessons are usually given. The older children are expected to do work each day in reading, writing and math. They may have a “work plan” to finish by the end of each day to prepare them for the expectations of the Lower Elementary level. Cultural and science studies are taken to a deeper level in the afternoons as the older children are more able to understand a larger world and more complex concepts.