Our Primary (Elementary) Programme is built on the philosophy and pedagogy of Maria Montessori. She says: “The stars, earth, stones, life of all kinds form a whole in relation with each other, and so close is this relation that we cannot understand a stone without some understanding of the great sun! No matter what we touch, an atom, or a cell, we cannot explain it without knowledge of the wide universe.”
(From Childhood to Adolescence, 1948)
The above words highlight the connectivity between all knowledge and how important it is that children get an understanding of the entire vision of the universe. Children of this age are full of curiosity and hungry for knowledge. They need to hear the cosmic story of the beginning of the world, the origin of the sun and planets, the formation of the stars and the structure of the earth. All have great relevance to them and their own place in the universe. This ‘grand vision’ provides the basis for study of subjects in a connected way. Development of sensitivity to the fundamental needs and interdependence of humans and all living things are emphasized. While the daily and cultural concerns of the Pre-Primary child are related largely to the world in which he/she lives – the family, and the immediate environment – the Primary child yearns for a detailed examination of the world, and he/she moves beyond this world into the vastness of the universe. Montessori calls this Cosmic Education.
Each Primary Environment (classroom) has a mixed age group of children between the ages of 6 to 9. Montessori believed that education must encompass social and emotional development, alongside academic development. The environment is designed to promote sharing of knowledge, learning from each other, teamwork and a community spirit. Mathematics, History, Geography, Botany, Zoology, Science and Art are presented to children without the divides of a timetable. They are all a part of the entire ’whole’, cultural gifts passed down by previous generations for us to explore and enrich our lives. For example, Montessori’s concept that each one of us is born in a moment of history is deep and thought provoking. ‘Time’ takes on a new significance. One of the first materials we use in History is a Time Line. This gives the impression of the whole of time that it has taken for the earth to be prepared, and for humanity to have developed up to the present. The child feels his/her connection within this time line and his/her own history is interwoven into the tapestry of life.
A lot of the learning that happens has its roots in the Pre-Primary Montessori activities, particularly the sensorial ones E.g. the Baric tablets/weight/pressure against gravity/concept of balance. Children evolve from the sensorial plane to an intellectual one, understanding things in abstraction.
Our goal is to help each child become an independent, inquiring and confident person.
The desire to learn more about numbers and numerical relationships motivates a child to develop computational skills as well as an understanding of money, time, measurement, geometry and algebra. Further study of the combinations and special laws of the decimal system leads to exploration of other base systems. Children then progress to more abstract problem solving.
Research projects, timelines and discussions bring to life prehistoric eras, the evolution of early people and achievements of different cultures. The goal is an understanding of the relationships between history and contemporary society.
Starting with the classifications of plant and animal life, children move on to the more complex concepts of structure, function and interrelationships of living organisms. Studies of plants and animals and physical sciences are integrated with the study of the solar system and the earth’s place within it. Simple experiments demonstrate electricity, magnetism, gravity, light and other principles of physics and chemistry.
Language comes into all subjects! Children of this age have a great interest in the structure of language and need to express themselves through creative writing. Independent and group reading, comprehension exercises, creative composition and research writing, spelling, grammar, punctuation and handwriting are daily activities. Having said that, we do believe that language is expression and expression finds its outlet in many connected ways – through art, theatre, dance and so much more!