A child’s journey is the search for their meaningful place in the world. It starts at the youngest age. Children in the Primary program are in the stage of development that Maria Montessori called the absorbent mind. They are absorbing everything through their senses and processing it intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.
At Casa di Mir, we believe education flourishes when children love to learn and feel connected to the community. In a Casa Primary class, students thrive as passionate learners in a rich, close-knit environment. They find joy in doing things for themselves and for others. And they find confidence in newfound abilities as our caring teachers guide and support them in activities that plant the seeds for future growth. These activities include math, language, cultural literacy, self-care, care of others, creative expression, independence, and the ability to work with and appreciate others from all backgrounds.
Our school programs follow a typical school-year calendar. Orientation begins during the last week of August and school ends in mid-June.
The school offers a full-week schedule, and, for younger Primary students, a part-week schedule (T,W,Th). Part-week students will be in class with full-week students and enjoy the same regular Montessori school day.
Additionally, there is a have a six-week Primary summer program.
A Day in Casa di Mir’s Primary Classrooms
The Primary program is a carefully prepared environment with a full spectrum of Montessori materials designed to meet the developmental needs of the 3 to 6-year-old child. Our classrooms have the traditional 3-year age groupings. The older children have the opportunity to help the younger children, which reinforces their own skills while allowing a sense of leadership to grow. The younger children enjoy observing and learning from their older friends while getting an exciting glimpse into what they will soon be learning.
Children in these classrooms are encouraged to work independently, to choose interesting and challenging work, to follow directions, and to find the intrinsic value of mastering skills with confidence. Concentration and responsibility are products of such processes. Grace and courtesy are given time and practice as these behaviors are seeds for peace and respect in the world. It is here we begin the groundwork of respect for individual differences and the uniqueness of each child.
Primary Schedule Options (All schedules are available for full-week students, Monday through Friday, and part-week students, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday):
Teacher to student ratio 1:10
Teacher and Teacher Assistant to student ratio: 1:7
The prepared environment and curriculum address a full range of social, emotional, physical, and cognitive needs of the 3 to 6-year-old child. Dr. Montessori observed that children go through phases she called “sensitive periods” in which the child invests him or herself fully in the activities and tasks that are most important for the acquisition of knowledge and skills particular to that phase of development. During this stage of growth, the child is finding ways to order his or her external world and to develop self-control and self-care. It is a particularly important time for the development of language. Montessori’s understanding of child development is apparent in every aspect of the Primary program’s environment and curriculum.
Montessori materials are carefully designed and sequenced for optimum learning. They most often have a self-correcting factor that gives feedback as the child works with them. Lessons with the Montessori materials are typically taught one-to-one or in a small group.
The environment includes five curriculum areas: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math, and Cultural Studies
The area of Practical Life includes activities concerned with care of self or others and care of the environment. The child develops independence and self-discipline through the use of practical life materials. As the child learns how to button and tie, how to pour from a pitcher without spilling, and how to care for the plants and animals in the environment, he or she grows in confidence and learns to take pride in his or her abilities and work. Practical life includes everyday activities. The child learns to prepare and to serve snacks and lunch, sew, plant in the garden, and clean the environment. In addition to learning a particular skill, the child learns to follow a sequence of steps and develops a sense of order. Many of the Practical Life “jobs” develop fine motor skills that prepare the child for future academic work.
This second area of the classroom is unique to Montessori. From the moment they are born, children use all of their senses to learn about their environment. As students sort, grade, and build with the sensorial materials, they learn to differentiate between objects and refine the senses. The child becomes aware of subtle differences and learns to appreciate his or her surroundings. Many of the sensorial materials prepare the child for mathematical concepts as they learn about differences in length, weight, and shape.
The Montessori environment is rich in language. Expressive language is the entry point for all reading and writing activities. In the Montessori classroom, children are involved in conversation with the teacher and with each other. What the child has to say is valued. Children are encouraged to “write” using the moveable alphabet before they are able to write using a pencil. A love of reading and early exposure is a hallmark of Montessori education. Phonics is introduced using sandpaper letters. The tactile sandpaper letters are just one example of Montessori’s multi-sensory materials that utilize the different senses to acquire information. Children learn the sound of each letter while using their sense of touch to feel the textured letter. As the child learns the individual sounds of the letters, he or she begins to read quite naturally by putting the sounds together into words. Because the Montessori Primary classroom spans a three-year age range, the younger children have many opportunities to witness the older children writing and reading. It becomes a natural next step, which they are eager to take.
When ready, students explore math concepts through the use of beautifully designed and sequenced Montessori materials. Through the use of concrete materials, students develop a sense of number, learn to count and make connections between number symbols and quantity. Students continue developing basic concepts including skip counting, computation, place value, and fractions with these hands-on experiences. Sensorial materials help develop early concepts in geometry and algebra.
This area of the classroom encompasses topics within the studies of geography (both physical and cultural), the sciences, art, and music. Guided by curiosity about the world, the child learns new vocabulary, gains a greater understanding of the needs of living creatures, and explores cultures with respect and appreciation. Art and music are an integral part of the Montessori environment. Many of the art and music experiences are closely tied to the cultures being studied.
The education of even a very small child does not aim at preparing them for school, but for life.
– Maria Montessori