(2 1/2 years - 6 years)
Children at this stage of development have the ability to embrace knowledge and activity without effort, or fatigue, because of an ‘absorbent mind’. One French-speaking, and one English-speaking teacher welcome children into this classroom.
Students in this mixed classroom, learn to cooperate and support each other as they learn. The younger children benefit from having more mature students to interact with and learn from. At the same time, the older children develop leadership skills and further master their subject matter knowledge.
“There is a great sense of community within the Montessori classroom, where children of differing ages work together in an atmosphere of cooperation rather than competitiveness. There is respect for the environment and for the individuals within it.”
- Dr. Maria Montessori, 1946
To aid this period of self-construction, our teachers encourage individual, as well as group work. Focus is on engaging the children in purposeful work. The ability to think and express with more clarity are cultivated in the following ways:
Practical Life exercises instill in the child the care for oneself, for others, and for the environment. Activities are those children might enjoy at home, including ‘grace and courtesy’. Through tasks such as buckling a shoe, children develop the muscular and fine motor co-ordination necessary for handwriting. Their powers of control and concentration evolve, so they learn to work at a task from beginning to end.
Reading and Writing ability is developed by paying attention simultaneously to the mind, the hand and the eye of each child, a multi-sensorial approach. Practical life and sensorial exercises enable the use of a pencil, pen or chalk.
Children gain a notion of rich and precise language through bilingual conversation, story telling, poetry and songs.
Presented with a sandpaper letter for example, the child will look at it, trace its outline, repeat the sound, thus acquiring an audio, visual and tactile awareness, which promotes the development of written expression and reading skills.
Sensorial Material serves as a tool for both physical and cognitive development. The children develop mental order by being allowed to explore their world through their senses and respond to their natural desire to sort, classify and arrange both the physical properties of their environment and more abstract experiences.
Geography, Biology, Botany, Zoology, Art and Music are presented as extensions of the sensorial and language activities. The children learn about people from other cultures including their language, food, dress, music and behaviour. The school welcomes children of all races to provide them with a first-hand, multi-cultural experience. Lessons and experiences with nature inspire a reverence for all life.
The comprehensive art program offers the children an opportunity to explore their creativity in all mediums, from watercolor painting and charcoal drawing to collage.
Mathematics material similarly helps the children evolve from a solid understanding of basic mathematical principles, to preparation for later abstract reasoning. This also helps them develop problem-solving capabilities.
From tracing sandpaper numbers, they move on to the decimal system with the golden bead material for counting, and start to assimilate the concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, through the bank game and other group exercises. In this way, they learn to love mathematics!