What fun it is to be a three or four year old in Tidewater’s Half-day Primary class! It is a very social place and full of movement. Within this hive of activity, we begin Tidewater’s integrated approach to learning.
Children at this age explore the world through their senses, and our classroom is full of the materials that Maria Montessori thoughtfully developed to meet that need. The teacher guides the children through one-on-one and small group lessons that encourage independence and critical thinking. The children work with hands-on materials that challenge their motor skills, sharpen their senses, strengthen their language and math skills and broaden their awareness of science and culture.
The simplicity of the Montessori materials invites exploration and experimentation. In the classroom, each child is free to explore at their own pace supported by the underlying sequencing and structure that Montessori provides.
What sets us apart from many other primary programs, even other Montessori programs, is our focus on the whole child. We place great emphasis on a child’s individual temperament, sensory system and emotional growth. Our staff works closely with parents to respect and understand how each child approaches the world.
Our Aim: The Half-day Primary child deserves a safe place in which to explore and to connect with peers. We strive to offer a wonderfully prepared environment that challenges the body, entices curiosity, and enhances a desire to interact and belong within a caring community.
Our Image of the Child: We view the young child respectfully, knowing that touch and exploration are often the choice prior to greater periods of focused attention. Montessori explains that the child at this age is sensorial and may not be ready to engage in process work. The child absorbs the lessons of the world by manipulating the objects of the world. We place great emphasis on a child’s individual temperament, sensory system, and emotional growth as we observe the young child. This respectful stance and total perspective of the whole child sets Tidewater apart from many other primary programs, even other Montessori programs.
The Role of the Teacher: The teacher is much like a composer of a symphony. She must know the rhythm and style of each child and prepare a classroom with instruments (learning tools) that will provide adequate stimulation and promote communication as the child explores, observes, acts and creates. In the harmony of peers, the individual is affirmed and valued for his own uniqueness and learning style. The teacher in turn is paralleling this movement. As an astute professional, the teacher must observe and understand as she guides the child within the environment. Our Half-day Primary teacher works with the children through one-on-one and small group lessons that encourage independence and critical thinking. Our staff works closely with parents to respect and understand how each child approaches the world. The work of psychologist Alfred Adler guides our approach to children’s behavior and helps us understand more fully how the child interacts with friends within the class setting.
How the Classroom Looks: The simplicity of the Montessori materials invites exploration and experimentation. In the classroom, each child is free to explore at his/her own pace, supported by the underlying sequencing and structure that the Montessori environment provides.
How We Create Curriculum: Contrary to the popular idea that curriculum can be boiled down to a few skills that are taught repeatedly until mastered, we see curriculum as a rich and vibrant process. This can best be accomplished by interweaving the teacher’s goals with the child’s drives and interests. Learning is usually structured as a discovery process in which each child takes an active role.
Children at this age explore the world through their senses, and our Half-day Primary classroom is full of the outstanding manipulative materials that were carefully and thoughtfully developed by Maria Montessori.
Wherever possible, subject areas are merged into daily activities to give children a seamless experience of the world, which matches their experiences of life. What starts as a science lesson on flowers might also become an opportunity to work on fine motor skills such as cutting flowers in the garden and pouring water into vases. That in turn might invite curiosity about flower colors and varieties, thus giving rise to sorting and categorization lessons. The Spanish teacher may then choose to build on our work with festive colors, flowers, and food from Mexico. Art, music and literature blossom in such a creative classroom.
Why We Value Play: It has been so wisely stated that the work of the young child is their play. While some may view play as mere recreation and nothing more, we understand that play is an energetic, self-motivated form of learning used by all human beings throughout life. Children’s play has a central place in their social, emotional, and cognitive learning. Rather than try to relegate it to recess, we draw on its strengths within our program.
We are fortunate to have a rich natural environment right behind our school. As children’s lives become more indoor-centered, we believe they have a right and a need to be in the outdoor world, not only as recess from academic pressures but as an integral exercise to complement their physiological growth and development. We take advantage of opportunities to build curriculum around nature. Self-directed outdoor recreation has been shown to enhance brain development, so time for imaginative play is built into every day’s schedule.