The Primary program at Butler Montessori provides a nurturing environment for harnessing your young child’s once-in-a-lifetime ability to absorb information and support his or her natural drive for independence.
Between the ages of 3 and 6, your child has the extraordinary ability to absorb information and concepts from his or her surroundings like a sponge. The Primary program at Butler Montessori is designed to meet the needs of your child during this crucial phase of rapid intellectual development.
During these years, children are particularly drawn to language, movement and the social courtesies of our culture. The young Primary-age child also has an intense need for order and consistency of routine.
Your child’s experience in the Primary classroom provides the context of a community where he or she will develop social, emotional and academic skills, while learning how to function within a group. Over time, your child develops increased physical and mental capacities that allow him or her to ease into more complex social interactions and more challenging work.
The Montessori Primary Guide builds on your child’s growing curiosity and readiness to begin his or her academic education. Your child will engage in a variety of activities, including language arts, geography, mathematics, botany, practical life, reading, cursive writing, art and physical education. As a result, your child will possess strong academic skills and the ability to think analytically and creatively when the time comes to enter the Elementary class.
Your Primary-age child is still in a sensitive period for the five senses until around the age of 6. This means he or she experiences a “heightened” sensory awareness to the environment and is enormously attracted to sounds, textures, color, shapes, smells and taste.
The materials used in the Primary classroom are designed to be the perfect size for your young children’s small hands to handle. They are also visually appealing and sometimes contrasting in sound, shape and color. They are limited in quantity and intentionally highlight particular objects or concepts about the physical world. “Less is more” allows your child to enjoy the details of a picture or the tray of fall leaves and nuts.
Art in the Primary environment includes a variety of activities utilizing different media and techniques. Art is integrated into all areas of the environment and includes geometric design; coloring the parts of birds, horses, butterflies, or flowers; replicating continent maps; and illustrating completed work (e.g., booklets of math problems, stories or language exercises.) An observer in the Primary class would see that the work of the hand is ongoing throughout the day by all the children.
Developing the hand, especially for cursive writing, is big work for the Primary child and is shown through his or her artwork, as well as number and letter writing. Painting, drawing, gluing, cutting, shaping clay/play-dough and tracing are activities that simultaneously perfect hand movements (pencil grip, especially) while developing their creative gifts. Simple, circular drawings gradually evolve into pictures of people, suns, trees, dogs, houses and other familiar scenes of everyday life. Glue collages often become three-dimensional works. Increased attention to detail is shown over months and years of a child’s collection of artwork.
Music and Performing Arts
In the Primary classroom, music and drama are incorporated into your child’s learning environment as an opportunity for creative expression, as well as developing language, hand-to-eye coordination, and fine and gross motor skills.
Dalcroze Eurhythmics, also known as the Dalcroze Method or simply eurhythmics, is a developmentally based approach used to teach music to students at Butler Montessori. Your Primary-age child will learn how to listen, discriminate and recognize different rhythmic patterns and melodic lines, and translate them into organized sequences of movement.
Another music education method called Orff Schulwerk combines music, movement, drama and speech into lessons that are similar to your child’s world of play. Your child will be exposed to the basic music elements using speech, rhymes, folk songs and rhythmical games that develop ear training and music awareness. Basic elements of drama are introduced to promote self-expression through role-play using musical stories.
Instrumental practice with un-pitched percussion instruments allows your child to improve fine and gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination, as well as rhythm perception, while developing the ability to work with others as an ensemble and reproduce simple rhythmical sequences.
Performance opportunities include a holiday recital for parents and family members that has become a beloved annual tradition at Butler Montessori.
Daily time on the playground provides a useful outlet for the Primary child’s endless energy, while helping his or her body to gain greater coordination, strength and health. Butler Montessori’s large mulched playground area provides a safe space for running and playing, while slides, monkey bars and swings test a young child’s strength and coordination skills.
In addition to the large playground with climbing structures, slides, swings and a sandbox the Primary children sometimes visit the stable area to see horses, as well as chickens that are cared for by the Intermediate class. Primary students also occasionally take long supervised hikes in the woods of Seneca Creek State Park, which borders Butler’s 22-acre campus, giving them the opportunity to learn from the natural outdoor environment around them.