“Scientific observation then has established that education is not what the teacher gives;
education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual,
and is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences upon the environment.”
The greatest task of the Primary-aged child is self-construction on an active and conscious level. The lessons at this stage of the program are designed to respond to the child’s needs based on the sensitive periods, the absorbent mind and the tendency to explore.
"Sensitive Periods" are times during which the child is powerfully drawn to master certain kinds of skills. The sensitive periods that govern the Primary program are sensitivity to order, movement, the exploration of language, mathematical concepts, writing, reading and the acquisition for the mores of the child's culture. During each of these sensitive periods, the child exhibits a tremendous interest in and drive to work with whatever skill is in focus at any given time. The child at this age is aided by an “absorbent mind” that takes in everything in the environment.
Montessori's understanding of the child's need to repeat, his predisposition toward self motivation, independence and mastery help us to design a community that best provides opportunities for the individual child to learn, grow and become a well-functioning member of his social group.
There are four classrooms in the Primary program, each taught by one certified Montessori teacher and a trained assistant. Each classroom serves approximately 30 children ranging in the age from 2 ½ to 6 ½ years of age. Efforts are made to maintain an even ratio of boys to girls within and among mixed age groups. The children attend school five days a week from 9 a.m. to 12 noon until they are ready for a full day program which usually occurs between the ages of four and five.