Cypress Junction Montessori has two primary classrooms. Each with a mixed-age group of students from three years old up through kindergarten. Students in each classroom are guided by a state certified lead teacher an an assistant.
These classrooms are outfitted with child-sized tables and chairs arranged singly or in small clusters, with classroom materials on child-height shelves throughout the room. Activities are initially presented by the teacher, after which they may be chosen more or less freely by the children as interest dictates. Classroom materials include activities for engaging in practical skills such as pouring and spooning, materials for the development of the senses, math materials, language materials, music and art materials, and more.[source]
Activities in the primary classrooms are hands on, tactile materials to teach concepts. For example, to teach writing, students use sandpaper letters. These are letters created by cutting letters out of sandpaper and placing them on wooden blocks. The children then trace these letters with their fingers to learn the shape and sound of each letter. Another example is the use of bead chains to teach math concepts, specifically multiplication. Specifically for multiples of 10, there is one bead that represents one unit, a bar of ten beads put together that represents 1×10, then a flat shape created by fitting 10 of the bars together to represent 10×10, and a cube created by fitting 10 of the flats together to represent 100×10. These materials help build a concrete understanding of basic concepts upon which much is built in the later years.[source]
Why Start at Age 3?
What is the ideal age to begin Montessori school? Age 2.9 to 3! The young child’s ability to effortlessly absorb information from his environment is only possible during this window of time. Dr. Montessori observed that during these early months, which she called sensitive periods, a child’s entire being is molded: his intelligence itself is being formed!
The child from age birth to six years old passes through three significant sensitive periods; those for order, movement and language.
SUPPORTING A YOUNG CHILD’S NEED FOR ORDER
During the sensitive period for order, a young child needs her environment to be predictable and orderly. If her life has a rhythm and her routine is maintained, she begins to trust the environment. If her needs for food, sleep and bodily comfort are predictably met as they arise, she uses this satisfaction as the basis to feel secure and to explore her world. The three year-old is at the height of sensitivity to ritualistic order; she still needs routines and yet can begin to create her own order. This is the perfect time to model that activities have a beginning, a middle and an end.
COORDINATION OF MOVEMENT
The sensitive period for movement is the time the child develops his coordination and fine and gross motor skills. Allowing your child safe yet challenging movement without interference develops this skill and his self confidence. It’s time to jump, hop, skip, and climb, to carry heavy things, to balance objects on a tray. He needs to use a scissors, to pick up tiny objects and to refine his eye/hand coordination allowing his hand to truly become an instrument of his mind.
THE PRIME TIME FOR LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
During the sensitive period for language, the child can hear the individual sounds in words as she learns vocabulary— an ideal time to begin learning the sounds of letters. During this time she will expand her vocabulary immensely. She wants huge words and funny words and rhyming word and words in songs. Our Montessori environments, rich in vocabulary, meet her word hunger perfectly.
When the children’s environment is based on and organized around the sensitive periods, the children work with an enthusiasm and sustained interest that is truly amazing. Their development is strong and steady.
Authentic Montessori preschool is a three-year cycle designed to engage children from age 3 to 6 (preschool through kindergarten). The activities in the first year lay an important foundation for future learning. Over the following two years the activities and lessons build upon themselves at the child’s own pace. Parents are often amazed when a child “explodes” into reading, writing, and math during the final year. It might look like magic, but it is really the culmination of the first two years in the Primary classroom. By starting at 3 and remaining in the classroom community for three years, Montessori children have an inspiring educational experience.