Primary Montessori – Age : 3 to 6 years
The Primary environment is a program for children aged 2 and a half- 6 years. The mixed age group helps the child work with peers of different ages and understands how to live cohesively in a society by learning from older children and helping and inspiring the younger children. Every environment has a good student teacher ratio of 12 : 1 and there are 30-35 children in each environment. The curriculum is individually developed for each child and follows the Montessori Method and philosophy. The child develops simultaneously in four major areas of Exercises of Practical Life, Sensorial, Arithmetic and Language. Items of human Culture are also presented.
Children also take part in weekly extra- curricular activities like craft, dance, music and yoga, which are woven into the child’s routine and are enjoyed by the children. There is a lot of emphasis on helping the child become independent, by giving him the tools and freedom of choice. The presentations of the various activities is done according to the child’s developmental stage and effort is put in to make sure every child is confident and competent to move into the Elementary environment. The children learn writing, reading, numbers and arithmetic operations in a concrete and scientifically designed way where learning becomes fun! Group activities and Play time ensures that the social, physical and emotional development of the child is also taken care of.
Exercises of Practical Life
The Exercises of Practical Life are the activities done by adults in their everyday life which can be classified as those that take care of the environment, those that take care of one’s own self and the ones that include acts of grace and courtesy involved in social life. (ie. Social Behaviour and Elementary movements.) Children perform these activities not because of the necessity, eg. to sweep the floor if it is unclean. These simple daily activities are for the child developmental and even creative and constructive activities. Some activities would be Rolling the mat, Putting down a Chair or Chowki, Greeting, How to Sneeze, Washing hands, Rolling Chappathis, Churning Buttermilk, Sweeping the floor, Fastening buttons/ hooks etc.
The inner urge of the child drives his senses to gather information. Sensorial impressions from our world are gathered but not consciously. He absorbs everything that is alive in his environment, like colours, shapes, habits, language, customs etc. The child has gathered a chaotic wealth of sensorial impressions and needs to become conscious of the different physical properties of matter like colour, shape, texture, smell, sound, dimensions etc. This can be done successfully when there is order and isolation of the property. The Sensorial Materials are designed keeping the child’s needs and interests in mind by Dr Maria Montessori. A few Sensorial Activities would be the Pink Tower, Brown Stairs, Long Rods and Cylinder Blocks for Dimensions. Geometry Cabinet and Solids for shapes and 3-D shapes, Colour Tablets for classifying and grading colour, Tactile Material for texture, Baric Tablets to sense the weight of an object, etc.
In the Primary environment, Reading and Writing happens naturally through several direct and indirect preparatory activities. The child’s vocabulary is enriched through several activities. The attention is then drawn to the sounds in words. Language is offered phonetically and the cursive script is introduced using Sandpaper Letters. The Movable Alphabet helps the child listen to sounds in words in succession. Writing happens as an explosion around 4 and half years and Reading follows it soon when the child can put together the sounds that he sees to make a word. Hindi and Tamil are also offered at Sprouts apart from English in a similar manner.
There are several activities that make maths fun at Sprouts. The child learns to count quantities, recognise numbers and associate numbers to quantities. The Decimal System is introduced where the child physically holds beads of 100 and 1000. Each activity is interesting and endearing to the child who does the activities independently. Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division are also introduced first in a concrete manner and then we move to the abstract form of writing on paper.
Cultural activities lead the child to experience music, stories, artwork and items from the child’s community, society and cultural background. The areas of geography, science, zoology and botany are all included in this area. A range of globes, puzzle maps and folders containing pictures from different countries all help to give the child an insight into different cultures. The culture area encourages children to develop their capacity for creation, and develop fine motor skills. Whilst learning to freely express themselves. Through cultural activities, children develop an awareness and appreciation of the world around them.