Greenville Montessori School consists of two primary classrooms serving children ages
three to six. Each class offers a full Montessori curriculum with standard Montessori materials. Here the children learn through hands on experience and creative exploration. Enhanced learning and social development occur in this multi age setting. The youngest children observe and interact with the older children. In turn the older children serve as role models and learn responsibility and leadership skills. The materials in each classroom are grouped into the four major divisions: Practical Life, Sensorial, Math and Language
Practical Life exercises are the starting point for the youngest child entering our classroom. These are tasks required for daily living which develop the child’s sense of order, coordination, concentration, and independence. There are four distinct groups of Practical Life exercises: care of person, care of environment, development of social relations, and movement. The children in our classes can be seen performing activities such as pouring, polishing, washing, sorting, dressing, and using simple tools.
The Sensorial materials help the child recognize and understand the impressions he is constantly receiving through his senses. These materials include beautiful manipulatives dealing with size, color, shape, sound, texture, form, and dimension. As well as helping the children classify concepts, the Sensorial materials provide the groundwork for the development of other skills such as music, math, and language.
Mathematical materials in our primary classrooms emphasize the concepts of number recognition, quantities, linear counting, the decimal system, simple fractions, and beginning lessons in the four operations. The children are busy working together counting the chains, sharing out quantities, and creating large numbers with the “golden beads”. These concrete materials show the child the beginnings of what will later become abstract concepts.
Language is an integral part of the Montessori curriculum, emphasizing both spoken and written language. Many of the Practical Life and Sensorial exercises are prerequisites for learning to read and write. Language materials include sandpaper letters teaching phonetic sounds and letter shape, movable alphabet for composing words and simple sentences, many types of language card exercises, and the metal insets, which develop pencil control necessary for writing. Often our children can be observed sounding out simple words and creating their first stories. The language work is also incorporated into the other areas of the classroom such as science and social studies.
In addition to the four major divisions in each classroom, there are supplemental areas such as geography, science, art, and music. In the geography area the children are exposed to work such as maps, land and water forms, and flags. On the science shelves the children have access to simple science experiments and classification materials, as well as, activities teaching the solar system, the human body, plants, and animals. Art is interwoven into the curriculum and extends to all areas of the classroom.
The role as teacher in our classrooms is to guide and facilitate the child’s learning based on their individual needs and interests. The Montessori teacher wants to lead the children to discover and develop their own talents and potential.
In our primary classes the first and second year students complete their day at noon. The third year children (extended day students) remain at school for the afternoon. Lunch is an important part of the day where the children have the opportunity to practice both practical life skills as well as their social skills. The afternoon work period provides the children with a chance to further explore their interests in a small group setting with few interruptions.
The most significant element of our primary classrooms is not located on the shelves with the other materials. It is the opportunity the child has to explore his own interests and to manage his learning. It is also the attention and instruction given in learning to respect oneself, to respect others, and to respect the environment – whether it is this small environment where the child is working or the world at large. By practicing the lessons in “grace and courtesy” the young child can learn to internalize patterns of caring, politeness, and understanding. Our primary Montessori classrooms provide each child with an important place to work and learn: the essential way to grow.