Our annual Primary Coffee Chat was held on October 20 in the Lower Elementary Environment.
Ms. Sarah talked about the child from birth to age 6 explaining the Tendencies of the Human Being and how they relate to the Primary Environment. The Tendencies explored include:
- Exploration: The child must experience his environment through his senses, he must go out into the world to explore. The child explores through use of the sensorial materials, all five senses are used and then he goes out into the world and explores the wider environment.
- Orientation: The young child must place himself in relation to the objects, persons and phenomenon in his world. The child comes into his environment and through preliminary lessons learns about movement and rules for his class.
- Order: To gain a sense of security, as he places himself in relation to his environment, the child has a great need for stability and order within that world; therefore he does not like changes during the early years. The three year cycle is important as the child spends three years in the Primary Environment The materials have order and the child becomes secure in his Prepared Environment.
- Abstraction: The young child begins to abstract when he hears his mother’s voice in another room and recognizes it as hers; the toddler abstracts when he hears the word “tree” and can envision a tree in his mind. This happens all through our environment. An example is with the mathematic materials as they use the concrete materials and subconsciously absorb math facts of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
- Exactitude: The child has the need to see activities in exact sequence, to work in exact ways so that he may form in his mind logical and reasonable patterns of thinking. Examples of this include polishing and chair washing.
- Activity: The child must be active in order to adapt to his environment and learn to live within it; his exploration and orientation must take place through activity especially through the use of his hands. The environment offers much movement for the child as he carries a rod or a tray.
- Self – perfection: The young child must repeat an action innumerable times until it becomes a very part of himself. The child may polish every day, or write a particular story each day.
- Language: The child has an insatiable thirst for the language of his environment. He learns how to express his needs and ideas to others. He uses the Moveable Alphabet to express his thoughts.
- Spiritual life: The child needs to be included in the life of his culture so that he may become a part of it. He learns about his family history and we celebrate culture through our Cultural Feast.
Ms. Sarah shared how the area of Practical Life relates to the above Tendencies and why Practical Life is such an important component of the environment. It is through work in the area of Practical Life that the child constructs the personality and builds inner discipline. Practical Life is based on four basic principles:
- Free choice
- Repetition of an exercise
- Proportioned environment
- Purposeful activity.
Parents were asked to submit any questions about the Primary Environment prior to the chat. Some of the questions are as follows:
-Why does my child polish everyday?
Children have a sense of order, exactitude and precision, and they work for self perfection. The repetition fulfills an inner need for them.
-Why is there only one Directress in the environment?
Lessons are given individually and the Directress presents new lessons to the child daily.
-What is the run-down of the day?
We offer a three hour work period of uninterrupted spontaneous work. The child chooses what he would like to work on and when he is finished he returns the materials to the shelf in the same condition as when he collected the materials.
Maya and Talia answered impromptu questions from the audience about their Montessori experience in the Primary Class.