Primary Community: Children 2 1/2 through 6*
St. Francis Montessori offers individualized learning for children 2 1/2 through 6 years old in a Montessori-prepared environment. The environment is rich in choices, experiences, and opportunities for self-discovery. Led by an Association Montessori Internationale trained guide, children are free to learn and absorb at their own pace in this stimulating, nurturing environment.
The Primary program is prepared to help children cultivate their intrinsic desire to learn. We encourage learning through exploration on the child’s own terms.
The Prepared Environment of Our Montessori Casa: The Work of the Child in Five Areas
The child begins with the work in the practical life area of the Casa, which provides exercises in care of one’s self and one’s environment, such as buttoning (photo right), tying laces, sweeping, preparing snacks, and pouring. These exercises are of infinitely greater value than the simple skill they imbue: most importantly, they invite the child to work with focus and concentration and discipline of movement, which lay the foundations for all future learning.
The sensorial area refines each of the senses with materials such as the color tablets and pink tower, sound boxes (photo left) and bells, touch boards and sorting trays (photo right). Young children are at a sensitive period to distinguish nuances in the senses, and these materials in the environment allow them to hone their senses accordingly.
In the language area the children explore and learn their letters and sounds, reading and writing. In the Montessori environment, the language materials exist always in the context of communication, i.e. reading and writing is understood as a medium of communication between two people. The youngest child plays I Spy to learn initial letter sounds, then progresses to sandpaper letters (photo right) and the moveable alphabet (photo left). At this point, the child and the Guide create messages for each other in the exercise of reading and writing. Children then progress to reading books, word-study, and grammar, leading to total reading.
The Montessori math works take abstract math concepts and illustrate them with a concrete material that the young child can experience through the work of the hands. In this way, the very young child in the Primary environment can gain experience with complex math concepts like division, not usually taught until much later. The math materials include sandpaper numbers, spindle boxes, number rods, bead chains, and stamp game (photo right). Children are introduced early to the decimal system and place value because it is the foundation of understanding all numbers. Materials include add on addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division boards, fractions, and abacus-like bead frames for work in all four operations.
The cultural materials expose the child to music, art, geography, science, and foreign language. There are opportunities for art and music appreciation, hands on experiences with botany and zoology, and globes and map puzzles (photo left) that are often some of the most popular materials in the environment.
Saint Francis has plans for a natural playground that involves flower and fruit and vegetable gardening, caring for chickens, rock gardens, and much more. In addition, a grotto to honor Our Lady is planned. In the future, it will provide an extension from the Casa such that the children can move freely between outdoor and indoor environments (with adult supervision).
The overall goals of this program are to see children develop coordination and concentration skills, learn to communicate feelings and needs, grow in independence, as well as reach their highest potential intellectually and spiritually. The atmosphere in our primary community is non-competitive and allows children to gain confidence based on their own encounters with the work. All of the activities are guided by a respect for the child, the work, and each other.
Learn more about what is in our classroom here.
Listen to our Directress talk about our programs on a radio interview on KATH 910 AM.
* Children in this program are self sufficient in their toileting skills.