Our Primary program, starting at age 3, builds not only the foundation for future academic success, but also the necessary skills to meet 21st century demands: growing autonomy, independence, cooperation, collaboration, and flexibility. Unlike daycare, a Montessori preschool focuses on the development of the whole child, including grace and courtesy, practical life skills, and care for the environment.
The Montessori materials found in each classroom appeal to the child’s human tendencies to explore, find order and orientation, manipulate, and repeat precise movements until relative perfection is reached. Through these materials, learning is a process of joyful discovery.
Each Montessori classroom is uniquely suited to the needs of its students. Our Primary classrooms are designed with low sinks, chairs, and tables; a reading corner with a comfortable floor cushion; easy to reach shelves; and child-sized kitchen tools. These elements allow for true independence and help to develop small motor skills.
The Primary Program is a three-year program for children ages 3-6. Students typically remain in the same classroom for the entire cycle, benefitting from a stable community and forging meaningful bonds. Not only do the children receive lessons from the teacher, they are afforded the opportunity to learn through observation and imitation of their classmates. The third year of the Primary cycle serves as the Montessori kindergarten year. Having been in the same classroom for two years, and now a leader within this environment, your child will be better prepared for Kindergarten and will have an even smoother transition into the elementary years. During the Montessori kindergarten year, critical learning skills that lay the groundwork for later academic work and social/emotional development deepen. Because Montessori classroom materials are used sequentially, your child will gain full comprehension of the concepts he or she has been exploring during the first two years of Primary in his or her third year. The culmination of this first three-year cycle will create a solid foundation for continued Montessori learning at the elementary level.
Have you considered the value of a Montessori preschool? Peer learning is spontaneous and natural and happens because the children are ready, willing, and eager to participate. In a three-year period, students experience being the novice, the apprentice, and the mentor in the community, learning from, practicing with and teaching other students. This bolsters the “teaching” child’s self-confidence, opens new doors for the “learning” child, and sharpens the academic skills of both. Such opportunities to develop leadership skills are rare in single-grade classrooms.
The Primary program at Gladwyne Montessori is specifically designed and structured to support children during the first plane of human development, from birth to six years of age, of which Dr. Montessori calls the period of the absorbent mind. Initially, it is an unconscious process of absorbing impressions and stimuli from the environment. This is the stage of concrete learning and concept building. At this stage of development, our children are inherently requesting, ‘help me to help myself.’
A typical day in a Montessori preschool varies from day to day as children learn and grow. Work is the children’s play as they wash, clean, polish, water, word-build, write, read, color, paint, mold, construct, explore and more. A child’s personal development is informed by the environment including the work of other students in the classroom. As one child builds words, another practices sounds, discovering the mysteries of words. They compose tens, twenties, and thirties, while another counts the one thousand chain. Drawing, pin-punching, metal insets and painting maps are among the favorite activities every day. Children also enjoy discovering the parts of a leaf or a frog. The more experienced Primary children discuss the names of landforms and water forms. Each individual child works at his or her own pace, but can learn from and help guide another.