The Primary Program (3-6 years)
The age from 0 to 6 years is an important phase of growth for children. Around 3, your child has just become fully aware of themselves as an individual. They are now ready to take control of their environment and their actions in a regulated way. This plane of development is called the Conscious Absorbent Mind.
At Fiore we offer a primary program which spans this entire age range. Parents are encouraged to think of this as a three year program where children stay to finish their kindergarten year. Starting with lessons in practical living, children move on to sharpening their senses, laying strong foundations in mathematics, communication, negotiation, reading and writing. The program seamlessly integrates music, art, geography, science, culture and peace education with their interests and makes learning relevant. Our natural outdoor environment encourages imagination and exploration in nature in an organic way. Above all, we focus on helping every child learn important social graces, self discipline and a sense of joy.
The primary environment offers a seamless transition from the toddler program by offering some overlap for our youngest. The range of materials builds from basic coordination, control and independence lessons in the practical life area to work sophisticated and abstract ideas in the math and language areas.
The primary Montessori curriculum incorporates a range of specially and scientifically designed materials which have both direct and indirect purposes. For each activity, the direct purpose helps the child develop a specific skill or understanding. The indirect purpose prepares the child for the higher levels of complexity in a variety of areas. Together, these two purposes help the child independently control his or her own development; both physically and mentally.
The Absorbent Mind
Nature has endowed young children with wonderfully absorbent minds and acute sensitivities, allowing them to acquire certain kinds of knowledge and abilities more completely and easily before age six, than at any time later in their lives. How successfully each child accomplishes these tasks in the early years has a bearing on the amount of knowledge and skill each will have at his/her command in later years. More importantly, the experiences of the young child will affect the attitudes s/he will embrace toward self, the world, and learning.
The child is free to use any material to which he has been introduced, and will tend to repeat the activity over a period of time, until an inner need is satisfied. In this way, he comes to master the concept, skill or quality that the material embodies, developing concentration and self-direction. The guide carefully observes each child’s progress, giving new points of interest and challenge when appropriate, but always leaving for the child the joy of accomplishment and discovery.
Your Child’s Teacher and Assistant
It is no coincidence that Montessori teachers are referred to as guides. The teacher is trained to recognize and respect the developmental tendencies and unique potentials operating within each child, and strives to guide him to the activity best suited to him at that moment.
The teacher has been taught to observe carefully, so that she will present a new lesson to each child as readiness and interest is indicated.
All guides at Fiore Montessori have completed certification through AMI, an intensive training program in child development, Montessori philosophy and curriculum for specific age levels. AMI, the Association Montessori Internationale, was founded by Dr. Maria Montessori in 1929 and continues to be considered the recognized leader and authority for Montessori education throughout the world.
Each teacher has a full-time assistant who is available so that the teacher is free to give lessons as needed. The assistant helps with assuring the safety of all children, outdoor supervision, and the care of the classroom.
A Specially Prepared Environment
The Montessori classroom is designed to encourage the natural inclination of the child to be independent, to move, and to explore. Furniture is child-size, counters and shelves are low, and all materials are accessible and sized for children. When a child enters the Montessori classroom, she finds herself part of a busy community of children, each with a sense of her own purpose, each contributing to the life of the class in her own unique way.
One of four areas, the Practical Life area, includes activities that help the child to be independent – buttoning a coat, pouring a glass of juice, arranging flowers in a vase.
The Sensorial area provides experiences with each of the senses – discerning the different pitches of the bells, tracing the shape of a curvilinear triangle, sorting many shades of purple from light to dark. Children’s senses are acute and offer gateways to understanding and classifying the environment. Such awareness and categorization builds an individual’s intelligence.
The Language area has no boundaries. The child in preschool loves words and is busy absorbing language constantly. Enriched vocabulary, poetry, prose-reading, and word play are all part of the daily experience. The young child delights in learning to make the symbols that represent his speech and to interpret those made by others. Thus the keys to writing and reading are acquired with the joy of discovery.
The materials and methods of the Mathematical area reinforce the child’s tendency to count, compare, compute and measure. The concrete materials are appealing to children, ingeniously designed for revealing principles and concepts, and are made to be experienced and manipulated.
Dr. Montessori recognized the importance of the hand as the interface between the brain and the environment. Through both physical and mental activity with these materials, the child acquires a profound intrinsic foundation for mathematics, beginning with concrete experiences and moving toward abstraction.
Grace and Courtesy
As members of a community, the children have many opportunities to learn and experience manners and good social behavior. Through Grace and Courtesy lessons, teachers model appropriate social responses to a small group of children when needed. The older students serve as models for their younger peers
Nature is Always in Reach
Each classroom has an outdoor garden to which the children have the liberty of access. Easily supervised by the teacher’s assistant through extensive windows, a child can don a coat and enjoy work outdoors in this adjacent extension of the classroom. Raking leaves from the patio, filling the birdfeeder or walking on the balance beam are just a sample of many possibilities.
Daily outdoor play is provided in a safe and stimulating natural environment. The custom-designed 3-tier playscape offers activities for their active bodies, their imaginative minds, and even shelter on a rainy day. The campus also offers other areas for supervised exploration in the Discovery Garden and the path along the forest’s edge.
Children are fascinated by plants and animals. It is not unusual for our preschool children to already have learned the names of many flowers, trees, birds and mammals that surround them in the world, as well as the parts of flowers and the very beginnings of biological classification.
Geography and Science
The Montessori philosophy fosters and understanding of geographical and scientific awareness through a variety of hands-on materials that allow children to see concrete representations of abstract concepts. Though it is difficult for a child to understand their geographic place in the world, the concept becomes easier to grasp through the use of puzzle maps and a pair of globes depicting the land and water forms in a tactile way. The puzzle maps show how different countries fit together and create a larger continent. The globe shows a color coordinated representation of those continents relative to each other on our spherical planet.
Music and Art
Montessori approaches music and art from a creative and organic perspective. In contrast to traditional group style art, the Montessori classroom provides a variety of avenues for children to explore their artistic and creative side with guidelines instead of prescriptions. The easel is accessible to all and can be used as frequently as the math or language materials. While music is often enjoyed as a group activity during circle time singing and dancing, there is also opportunity for individual musical studies. The Montessori bells are a series of seemingly identical bells each representing a single note. Even the sound cylinders in the sensorial area can be used to help children identify varying levels of sounds and timbres.