Primary Program for 3 – 6 year olds
The MDS primary program educates children using the methods developed by Maria Montessori. Dr. Montessori brought to her work with children a scientific approach that taught her to observe children to see what materials and actions best met their needs. Here at MDS, our teachers create environments designed to meet the children’s developmental needs. The teachers act as catalysts between the materials and the child. The child learns through using the materials.The goals of the Primary Program are to help every child develop and learn at his or her own pace, to keep the child’s innate curiosity and desire to learn alive and to facilitate the child’s self-creation as a life-long learner. We encourage the child to develop independence while at the same time to become a member of a caring classroom community. Here, respect for all things is central. Children see that everyone learns in his or her own way. In this way, each individual child’s self-confidence grows.
Mixed Age Group
Three, four and five-year-olds work together in the same classroom. This allows the younger children to learn from older children as well as from adults. The older children learn to help those younger than themselves and to have patience with those less skilled than themselves and to develop as leaders. The mixed age grouping allows children to stay together with the same teacher and assistant for three years, allowing a strong bond of caring and respect to develop. The children develop strong social skills in this open environment. For best results, children should enter the Primary Program when they are three years of age.
Freedom of Choice
Children move through the Primary curriculum propelled by their own curiosity. The teacher is trained to engage children in all areas of the curriculum and to guide the child to approach materials to further the child’s learning. Each classroom has a complete set of Montessori materials available to the children at all times.
Dr. Montessori observed that children learn more completely when using their hands. Rather than listening to someone explain how something works, a child learns by doing. A three-year-old masters the art of pouring by practicing, first with dry beans and then colored water. Spills and dropped pitchers reinforce the need to pour carefully without anyone having to tell the child what he needs to do to be successful. Children use beads as they learn to add and subtract; counting units, tens, hundreds and thousands long before putting pencil to paper. Children trace the sandpaper letters, and learn the sound each letter makes. Using the cut-out letters of the moveable alphabet, they blend the sounds of the letters thus learning to read.
Dr. Montessori described the three to six year old child as having an “absorbent mind”. The child is consciously “drinking in” all information and experiences encountered. Every experience is a learning experience. Thus, in the Montessori classroom the use of materials leads to the mastery of skills.
The Montessori curriculum for three to six year olds is an all encompassing one. Practical Life and Sensorial materials help the child develop the ability to concentrate, enhance motor development and recognize similarities and differences using all of the senses.
Language materials offer the child hands-on materials that lead to incremental gains in skills. Visual matching, work, sandpaper letters, the moveable alphabet guide the child through varying levels of abstraction, leading to an “explosion” into reading.
Math materials are a sequential introduction into the world of mathmatics. Hands-on materials teach the child basic counting, symbol and quantity recognition, skip counting, how the decimal system works and culminates with addition and subtraction.
Cultural materials offer the child knowledge in the areas of geography, history, science, art, music, and how other people live. Communication skills and problem solving are important components of our program. An introduction to Spanish is also integrated into the Primary Program. The children learn to garden and care for our flock of chickens.
Children can attend half days (8:30 – 11:30) or full days (8:30 – 3:00) five days per week.