(3 Years – Kindergarten)
The Primary (Casa) is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day Aldea Primary Program- The Casa
The AMI-Recognized Primary program accommodates toilet-trained children ages three through Kindergarten. Children use a variety of materials especially designed for the Montessori classroom to make discoveries in practical life, sensorial, language, cultural, and mathematics curriculums.
“Our aim is not only to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorize, but to so touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his innermost core.” — Dr. Maria Montessori
Practical Life- The Skills of Daily Living
Any preschool parent will tell you that his or her preschooler frequently leaves all the toys in favor of helping mom or dad. Preschoolers are drawn to the activities they see in their daily lives—cleaning, washing, cooking. The young child understands that to master these skills means to achieve a degree of independence.
The exercises in the classroom give the child opportunities to practice these skills in four distinct areas:
- Care of the Person (zipping, tying, dressing, etc.)
- Care of the Environment (sweeping, dishwashing, polishing, etc.)
- Social graces (greeting, thanking, apologizing, etc.)
- Movement (balancing, remaining still, silence, etc.)
The Montessori environment fosters the child’s growing independence and belief that, “I can do it myself!”
Dr. Montessori recognized that the young child discovers the world through the use of his senses. By providing a variety of sensorial experiences and giving the child the language with which to describe them, the Montessori environment opens the door to the world and provides the “keys” to that world.
In the classroom, the children explore shape, size, texture, smell, sound, color and taste. By isolating the quality being explored, the materials allow the child to grasp the concept and then apply it to his environment.
Language- From Spoken to Written
Language lessons are pivotal in the curriculum, and cross over into the other areas throughout the day. Students develop vocabulary, progress into letter recognition, writing, and finally reading.
Through a succession of exercises, students progress through combining sounds into words, phonetic reading, and then total reading (the ability to pick up any book and read it). The students simultaneously develop their fine motor skills for handwriting through a series of increasingly challenging exercises.
Sometime after their fourth birthday, the children begin the formal study of mathematical concepts. Students begin with segmented number rods to introduce quantity. As they progress, concepts become more difficult, moving from addition with concrete materials to subtraction facts with materials and eventually to division on paper. Geometry and fractions are also available for exploration.
Cultural- We Are The World
“If help and salvation are to come, they can only come from the children, for the children are the makers of men.” — Maria Montessori
Dr. Montessori understood that only through the children could we achieve world peace. The children come to appreciate the differences between cultures and the basic needs that we all share through the cultural curriculum.
Each month we select a country on which to focus. Pictures and maps from that country are displayed in the classroom. All curriculum areas incorporate aspects of the culture—from great artists and their methods to language materials to scientific discoveries. We learn songs and dances related to the area. At the end of the month, students help prepare a meal consisting of some of the traditional foods from the country. Parents play a big role in these cultural celebrations, assisting in food preparation, contributing pictures and other information about the specific area, and attending the celebration itself.
Our Frequently Asked Questions
Age Range- Why is there such a broad age range in one classroom? It is a great opportunity for younger children to learn by watching their older counterparts, and an equally wonderful opportunity for the older children to become the “teachers.” This dynamic fosters confidence and understanding in the children.
In a Montessori environment, children learn at their own pace, and when they are ready for particular lessons, they are given, rather than being forced to learn on the adult’s given schedule or curriculum. When children are in a class with a range of ages, they are more likely to have counterparts who are at the same level and therefore a social group with whom to excel.
Five Day Week- Why must my child attend all five days of the week? Dr. Montessori found that children learn best when they are secure in their environment. The consistency of coming to school every day allows them to establish a level of comfort that leads them to take risks and make mistakes, therefore having the greatest opportunity to learn.
Primary Program – “The Casa”
World Cultural Studies
Almost every month the Casa classes study a new country. We research the people, their culture, their history, their environment, and their celebrations. Twice a year we have two large celebrations of a culture and all parents are invited to attend with their child. This is a very special time to share with your son or daughter. We hope each of you will plan to attend. Please see the school calendar for these dates.
Because we believe that the celebration of holidays is a personal choice made by families, we do not officially celebrate any holidays. There are no Halloween or Valentine’s Day parties. We do not have a Christmas party. We do acknowledge these holidays with appropriate crafts.
However, celebrations of this type DO represent certain cultures and we treat them as such. For example, during December, we study holidays around the world. What do people in Germany or Mexico or Israel or Russia celebrate? How does this celebration represent the people? If your native country celebrates in a particular way, we would welcome your ideas on how to share this with the children.
Clothing should be simple and appropriate – no belts, snaps, buttons, or zippered pants/shorts – as if they were toilet training. All articles should be clearly marked with your child’s name and should not interfere with his enjoyment of school and playground (climbing, etc.) activities. Remember, we work on the floor a good bit of the time! If your daughter chooses to wear a dress or skirt, have her also wear shorts underneath. Flexible shoes are recommended. No boots, crocs or flip-flops are allowed. High-heeled shoes are also NOT allowed. We do not allow children to play on the playground with flip flops, plastic shoes, high heels or rain boots because they are too dangerous. Jewelry is discouraged as it can be very distracting.
All children keep a complete change of clothing at school. These arrive on the first day of school with the child. Because articles of clothing look alike and the teachers don’t know what clothing belongs to each child, each article of clothing must be labeled with your child’s name. Please include underwear, socks, dress, pants or shorts and a shirt. Should your child need to use the clothes, the soiled ones will be sent home in a labeled plastic bag. Please send a fresh set the following day.
Birthdays are a special time in a Montessori classroom. We celebrate your child’s journey around the sun and all the many milestones of each year in that journey. Please call or stop by the office to schedule your child’s celebration prior to your child’s birthday. One celebration per classroom per day can be accommodated. At least one parent should plan on attending this celebration which is approximately 10 minutes. We ask that you arrive at the office no later than 11:25 a.m. on your scheduled day.
On that day, we ask that you send a collection of pictures, one representing each year of your child’s life (birth, one, two, three, etc.). Either on the back of the pictures or on a separate sheet of paper, note your child’s age in the picture and describe the events of that year in one or two sentences (what his interests were then, where she visited, etc.).
We do not allow FOOD TREATS (due to food allergies) or other individual gifts (as these take the emphasis off your child’s special day and instead place the emphasis on what’s in it for everyone else).
Articles from Home
Please do not send “sippy cups” or toys to school with your child. If brought, these items will be placed directly into the child’s take-home cubby.
The nature of Montessori work creates an environment with little outward to show for a child’s effort. Most of the materials are hands-on manipulatives that do not result in a visible product: the Pink Tower, the Sandpaper Letters, the Golden Beads or Bead Chains. When children do create a product, such as art work, reports, maps, booklets, etc., we encourage them to select only their best work to take home.
All children bring their work home weekly. We will provide a work bag for this. Please return the work bag for the next week.
We encourage you to take the time to go through this work with your child. Ask leading questions, such as, “Tell me about this…” or “Which one of these is your favorite? Why?” Try to refrain from praising every piece – rather provide your child with sincere, truthful comments, such as, “You used a lot of orange in this picture” or “I can see that you spent a lot of time on this.”
Fruits, Vegetables and Flowers
Fruits and vegetables are cut by the children and served to their classmates during the morning as part of their work. They also arrange flowers for the classroom. These are two of the children’s favorite practical life exercises. Therefore, we ask each parent to send fruits or flowers once per semester. A schedule will be sent home during the first week of school. It is a rotating schedule, and families will be listed 2 or 3 times per year.
Morning and Afternoon Snack
Aldea Montessori supplies morning snacks for your child. We limit the variety of these snacks to help the children determine when they are hungry and when they are just intrigued by the new food. Snacks usually include a fruit or vegetable and some type of crackers. If your child has food allergies, please feel free to send a separate snack for your child to eat.
Children who stay past three o’clock in the afternoon will have a second snack. We try to vary these snacks to provide nutritious and energy-sustaining foods.
We set the tables for lunch as if we are a family preparing for a meal with plates, silverware, glasses and tablecloths. All items are provided by the school – please do not bring plastic silverware or napkins or cups in your child’s lunchbox.
Aldea is a nut-free environment; therefore do not send nuts or nut butter in your child’s lunch box.
Refrigeration is provided and a microwave oven is available for reheating food for less than one minute. We do not have the facilities or the manpower to cook lunches from scratch. Please avoid prepackaged lunches, if possible. These products are high in fat, calories and sodium and limit the choices the child has for selecting his own food. Please do not send sugary treats and beverages. These make it difficult for the children to settle into either a restful nap or afternoon work.
Primary children who stay all day and are still napping will be provided a rest mat, sheet and blanket for their use. The sheet and blanket go home every week to be washed. Children are free to bring a “lovey” or security item to cuddle during nap time, though “treasured” items should be kept home due to the risk of damage or loss.