Profound respect for each child characterizes the 3- to 6-year-old Primary program. This program fosters growth in independence and problem solving; the development of order, concentration, and coordination; the nurturing of oral communication skills; and the stimulation of the child’s joy in discovery and learning.
Practical Life is the area of development in which the child creates, controls, changes, or cares for his physical environment and his physical well-being. Practical life is the most basic and essential area of Montessori development. There are three goals of practical life that make it a foundation of the child’s future life as a whole:
- Through these activities the child grows to respect and love the physical work around him, both natural and manmade.
- The child develops techniques and skills that are basic to other areas of development.
- The child unites his growing body, developing intelligence, and will.
The resulting condition of human integrity is what we call freedom.
The success of our work depends upon this foundation. The child chooses what he will do. The child acts upon his decision with intelligence. The child’s use of his body within the environment is an act of work. The work process, freely chosen, done with self-discipline, using physical skills in an intelligent way, is the child’s daily product. The result is a free child, creating through his work a free adult.
Sensorial exercises are done with an extensive set of materials, each of which isolates one sensorial property and expands upon it: e.g., shape, weight, texture, or pitch is matched, graded, or contrasted. The sensorial work allows the child to develop his sensory awareness and organize his perceptions to form concepts and abstractions. The purpose of this work is threefold:
- The satisfaction of the work with the materials
- The ability to perceive one’s environment with sensitivity and intelligence
- The appreciation of the natural order that intelligent awareness cultivates in one’s life
Cognitive work in math and language develops from concrete sensorial materials that the child manipulates, forming the foundation for the use of symbols. The child will first have the experience before he or she uses the symbols that represent it. With the symbols, the child begins to communicate what he or she knows and does. Thus, a child’s school life is not divorced from reality and does not become something apart from life, but rather is a natural development of his personal being.
Arithmetic, geography, reading and writing, grammar and syntax, music, art, science, algebra, and geometry are developed in gradual stages from the concrete sensorial to the abstract conceptual through sequential materials and exercises and repetition of these exercises. Each child works from his own choice at his own pace, successfully completing self-correcting materials.