The Primary Classroom
Dr. Montessori integrated many facets into the prepared environment that aid the natural stages of the child’s development. Children of this age desire structure and order, and respond positively to an orderly environment. If children are to internalize order, it is important that they have it around them. In a prepared environment, children know that the materials will always be found in the same location, and will be beautiful and ready to use. The materials are grouped in sequence as to their difficulty. Children can see the order and feel the anticipation of what lies ahead for them. No one interrupts or interferes with the children as they complete an activity. The children return the materials to where they were found, thereby becoming active in keeping the order of the classroom. It is through this cycle that the children learn respect for the environment and their peers, and the beginnings of inner discipline will manifest in them.
The prepared environment allows children freedom within limits, and a unique opportunity to reflect on their own achievements. Children determine the consequences for themselves, allowing an opportunity for development of self-knowledge. Children perform meaningful work, a word that describes a physical and mental activity that is chosen by the individual. It has meaning for them because it promotes their own growth.
The Directress or Director is so named because they direct or guide the children in the prepared environment. This is a knowledgeable and sensitive adult who assists the children in living and growing in the environment. The materials presented are determined by observing each child and assessing his or her individual needs.
The environment consists of five areas:
- Practical Life- These materials enhance the development of control of movement, sequencing and concentration through inviting and purposeful work. The exercises will include work the child may perform at home such as tying bows, hand washing and care of the environment.
- Sensorial- These are Montessori’s original materials which enable the child to order, classify and describe sensorial experiences such as dimension, texture, color, sight and sound.
- Mathematics- Manipulative materials help the child gain an understanding of the concepts of number, symbol, sequence, operation and memorization of basic facts.
- Language- Work in this area includes oral language development, written expression, reading, and elements of grammar and literature.
- Cultural- The world and its peoples and cultures are introduced to the child, incorporating geography, history, science, botany, zoology and biology. Music and art are practiced daily in the classroom.
Daily use and vocabulary of various languages, such as Spanish and French, are spoken in the classroom. Multiple playground structures and activities are available daily, and children who stay all day have PE class once per week. To enhance a particular study, the children take field trips to places in the community. We also bring the world to the classroom through presentations made by outside professionals and our parents.