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Primary Program

  

At Damariscotta Montessori School, we follow Dr. Maria Montessori's philosophy and methods by providing our students with a supportive learning environment where developmentally appropriate materials and positive experiences contribute to the growth of self-motivated and independent learners.

Our Primary Program is a three-year-cycle for children from the ages of three through six. Each class is a multi-age grouping, balancing gender and developmental stages. A low child teacher ratio assures each child maximum interaction with the teachers, and permits teachers to observe and guide each child individually.

Our classrooms operate on the principle of freedom within limits. The children are free to work at their own pace on the materials they select.  The teacher's role is to work with children individually and in small groups, giving lessons and guidance on the specially prepared Montessori materials, so that the children can experience the full breadth of the curriculum through discovery. The Montessori classroom helps children learn about themselves and how to work with others as they explore their environment.

Individuality is promoted in the classroom and is balanced with an equal sense of responsibility and respect for the classroom community. The freedom to pursue one's own interests by choosing activities enables the child to exercise some control over his or her life.

Each child works independently at activities from the five main areas of the classroom.

Practical Life
The child's first introduction to Montessori's curriculum begins in the Everyday Living area of the classroom. The aim of the Everyday Living curriculum is to foster within each child coordination, concentration, order and independence. Mastery of these core skills develops the base needed for the work in all other areas of the classroom, as well as, for all aspects of the child's life.

Sensorial
The sensorial materials enable the child to order, classify and describe sensory impressions in relation to length, width, height, temperature, mass, color, scent, taste, touch and pitch.

Math
The use of manipulative materials enables the child to internalize concepts of numbers, symbols, sequence, operations and memorization of basic facts.

Language
Oral language development, written expression, reading, study of grammar, creative dramatics and children's literature are introduced in our language curriculum. In addition, the children are exposed to the Spanish language in a way that is both fun and educational.

Culture
Children are introduced to the basics of geography, history, life sciences, earth sciences, music, art and movement.  At Damariscotta Montessori School we also believe that in order to educate the whole child it is essential that the children have exposure to the arts. By providing opportunities to create, express and communicate one's feelings through art and music, the child is provided with the tools to develop a critical assessment of what they see, hear and read.

Children may enroll for a half-day program or a full-day program for either 3 or 5 days. The 3 Day program is reserved for first time students to ease the transition from home to school.  The Morning Program meets from 8:45 a.m. to 11:45 p.m., and full-day classes meet from 8:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. with lunch around noon. Before school and after school care can be scheduled, or used as needed, from 7:30 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. and/or 3:15 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.

     

A Typical Day in a Primary Classroom at the Damariscotta Montessori School

Children enrolled for the extended day can arrive at the school as early as 7:30 am. When children arrive they are warmly greeted by one of the staff and encouraged to hang up their own coats and put away their lunch boxes. With many of the youngest children, help from an adult or older child is often needed.  The ultimate goal of all activities in the classroom and school is for the child to learn to accomplish the task independently.  Once this is achieved, the child not only experiences the freedom and confidence that comes with self-sufficiency, but she now has the ability to help a friend.

Once inside the classroom the children are free to choose activities that have been specifically designed for their use.  During the first part of the year the children are invited to circle at the beginning of each school day.  During this time the children attend large group lessons, share thoughts and ideas, problem solve, and play educational games.  This also a time when teachers may read out loud to the students.  At the end of circle the “work cycle” begins and the children are free to choose work from the environment.  As the year progresses the children begin to assimilate to the environment and circle takes place at the end of the morning.  This practice avoids interruption of the children once they are engaged.

Upon entering the classroom during the “work cycle”, newcomers to the environment are often surprised at how engaged the children are in their respective activities.  One quickly notices how independently and cooperatively that the children are working.  It is not uncommon to see the teacher giving a lesson to a few students while the rest of the children work intently in different areas of the classroom.  A seasoned traditional pre-school teacher who was visiting our classroom remarked, “I can’t believe how engaged the children are!  Most of my day is spent controlling the crowd.  These children are not only working independently, but they are learning and enjoying themselves.”

Each classroom is equipped with classic Montessori materials and materials made by the teacher that follow the Montessori curriculum.  These didactic materials are developmentally designed to allow the children to learn from doing.  During the work cycle teachers present lessons using the materials, and the children, through using the materials, are able to absorb fundamental concepts for language, mathematics, sensory development, cultural studies (science, geography and history), and every day living skills. 

After the morning work cycle the children gather and begin to transition to the outdoor environment.  The playground, is a beautiful and spacious outdoor area, equipped with swing sets, a climbing structure, sandbox and vegetable and flower gardens.  In addition to outdoor play, teachers use the outdoor environment for educational purposes, as the Montessori curriculum emphasizes contact and exploration of the natural world.

For younger children enrolled in the Morning Program, pick-up is done at the playground as the outdoor play time winds to an end.  Children staying for the school day, lunch is eaten after outdoor play, followed by a quiet time or naptime for those who need it.  The afternoon work cycle begins after quiet time and is a time for further exploration and learning.  As the regular Montessori school day comes to an end, the Extended Day Program, guided by Montessori staff, offers children a relaxed and familiar after school environment until 4:45 p.m.