Welcome to the Primary Classrooms!
Children enrolled for the extended day can arrive at the school as early as 7:30 am. When children arrive they are warmly greeted by one of the staff and encouraged to hang up their own coats and put away their lunch boxes. With many of the youngest children, help from an adult or older child is often needed. The ultimate goal of all activities in the classroom and school is for the child to learn to accomplish the task independently. Once this is achieved, the child not only experiences the freedom and confidence that comes with self-sufficiency, but she now has the ability to help a friend.
Once inside the classroom the children are free to choose activities that have been specifically designed for their use. During the first part of the year the children are invited to circle at the beginning of each school day. During this time the children attend large group lessons, share thoughts and ideas, problem solve, and play educational games. This also a time when teachers may read out loud to the students. At the end of circle the “work cycle” begins and the children are free to choose work from the environment. As the year progresses the children begin to assimilate to the environment and circletakes place at the end of the morning. This practice avoids interruption of the children once they are engaged.
Upon entering the classroom during the “work cycle”, newcomers to the environment are often surprised at how engaged the children are in their respective activities. One quickly notices how independently and cooperatively that the children are working. It is not uncommon to see the teacher giving a lesson to a few students while the rest of the children work intently in different areas of the classroom. A seasoned traditional pre-school teacher who was visiting our classroom remarked, “I can’t believe how engaged the children are! Most of my day is spent controlling the crowd. These children are not only working independently, but they are learning and enjoying themselves.”
Each classroom is equipped with classic Montessori materials and materials made by the teacher that follow the Montessori curriculum. These didactic materials are developmentally designed to allow the children to learn from doing. During the work cycle teachers present lessons using the materials, and the children, through using the materials, are able to absorb fundamental concepts for language, mathematics, sensory development, cultural studies (science, geography and history), and every day living skills.
After the morning work cycle the children gather and begin to transition to the outdoor environment. The playground, is a beautiful and spacious outdoor area, equipped with swing sets, a climbing structure, sandbox and vegetable and flower gardens. In addition to outdoor play, teachers use the outdoor environment for educational purposes, as the Montessori curriculum emphasizes contact and exploration of the natural world.
For younger children enrolled in the Morning Program, pick-up is done at the playground as the outdoor play time winds to an end. Children staying for the school day, lunch is eaten after outdoor play, followed by a quiet time or naptime for those who need it. The afternoon work cycle begins after quiet time and is a time for further exploration and learning. As the regular Montessori school day comes to an end, the Extended Day Program, guided by Montessori staff, offers children a relaxed and familiar after school environment until 4:45 p.m.