Pre-Primary 3-6yrsA place for learning and discovery
The Montessori pre-primary classroom is a happy mix of a community of children and a place for learning and discovery. The classroom is purposefully designed to allow children to be self sufficient and to work at their own pace with the exercises and materials they have chosen. Children can choose to work either alone, alongside other children or in small groups. In this way children build social awareness, while gaining the knowledge and skills directly associated with the task at hand. It also encourages children to develop self-discipline and a capacity for total concentration. The activities in the Pre-Primary 3-6 year group fall into five major areas: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Mathematics and Culture. Music, art, science, gardening, and physical education are also part of the daily curriculum.
Dr. Montessori referred to this stage as the period of the Absorbent Mind. She observed that children under the age of six absorb information without effort, through their everyday interactions with those around them and their environment. This important time of development provides the critical foundation of a child’s character, learning, and growth.
As in all stages of child development, Dr. Montessori noted certain sensitive periods during this stage, a time when a child is powerfully motivated, driven, and able to learn certain things. These sensitive periods include aspects of movement, reading, mathematics, order, music, grace and courtesy, and many others. The classroom environment is designed to give the children a place in which they can work and learn freely, following their interests and natural tendencies.
The Montessori Approach
The Montessori approach fosters children’s love of learning and encourages independence by providing an environment of activities and materials which children use at their own pace. This builds self-confidence, inner discipline, a sense of self-worth and instils positive social behaviour. The approach forms the basis for lifelong learning.
In today’s world it is more important than ever, that children become motivated individuals able to develop to their full potential. Montessori takes into account the whole child and his place in the community, hence its relevance for today and the future.
Characteristics of the child aged 3-6 years
The 3 to 6 year old child is undergoing a process of self-construction. The application of the Montessori philosophy and the specifically designed Montessori equipment aids the child’s ability to absorb knowledge and continue this path of self-construction. There are four main areas in the pre-school program: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language and Mathematics. Considerable emphasis is also placed on Creative Arts, Music, Science, Geography and Cultural Studies. Acquisition of one’s own first culture is the child’s central developmental drive in the first plane of development.
The pre-primary environment serves this drive abundantly, bringing the world to the child. Globes, maps, songs, land forms, collections of pictures of life in different cultures, and much more, is offered, with the aim of helping the child to grow as an individual appreciating the larger context of his or her world.
The environment must be prepared to enable the child to become physically independent of the adult. Because he is able to do things for himself he starts to be able to choose and decide things for himself. The environment must allow for this both in the way that the materials are prepared and in the approach of the adults.