White Pine Classroom
The Three Year Program
SERVING CHILDREN 2 1/2 TO 6 YEARS OF AGE
Each year of our pre-k program prepares children for the wonderful world of education that will follow and more importantly gives them experience in building their character while participating in their classroom community. Although there are marked individual differences, the following is a brief picture of Montessori preschool, year by year:
Three-year-olds come to the White Pine Classroom ready for more. They come into an established community where they are the youngest members that need a little “domesticating”. They learn that there are ground rules that never change. They learn that they are free– to do what is right. In general, their greatest needs/interests at this time are 1.) coordination and refined control of movement–given mainly through the Practical Life exercises, 2.) words, i.e. increasing their working vocabulary–we pronounce clearly and slowly the words they are learning and we engage them in conversations and give them an opportunity to speak in a group, 3.) sorting out impressions that have accumulated since birth and before through the use of the materials for Sensorial Development, which is the foundation for intellectual development.
They come back to school to discover that they are no longer the youngest in the class. In fact, they turn into the lawgivers. They know all the rules and routines and are very helpful in trying to keep the new little ones on track. At the same time they are now more aware of the activities and projects of the older children and through this prepare for what is coming. They are now capable of handling more complex practical life lessons, they begin writing and blending sounds, the sensorial refinement exercises continue, formal lessons in math and music begin.
This is where it comes all together. The blending of sounds becomes the joy of reading and writing. The counting from the previous year set the foundation for wonderfully interesting lessons involving the four operations (addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division) with manipulative materials. Mathematical concepts are clearly presented, freely practiced, and permanently internalized. Puzzle maps used at age four are brought out again so the children can make their own maps and learn names of continents, countries, and states in a very happy way. They watched the teacher play songs on the bells for a couple of years, and now they play songs on the bells. They are exposed to grammar and written composition, botany, geography, geometry, zoology, music theory. They have a watchful eye on the little children and are lovingly ready to help whenever needed. At six or seven, they are ready to move on to a bigger and more complex environment taking with them capabilities and understanding that is the basis of real self-esteem, confidence, and eagerness to discover a bigger world.
Our job is to support, assist, encourage, and love them enough to remember what is written across the forehead of every little child:
Help me to do it all by myself!
Three Year Program information provided with permission of Caspari Montessori Institute