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Primary Preschool

Montessori Education for Children Ages 3 - 6

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Academic exploration at your preschool child's own pace.

Our classroom environment focuses on exploration of the materials. We give students the tools to learn and move towards abstraction. We don't call ourselves teachers because we're there to guide them as they learn. Through practice they're cementing these concepts in their mind and body. We meet the child where they are and tailor the work and lessons to their needs.

 

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"Butler is a place for kids to discover passion, explore creativity, and turn mistakes into learning opportunities. Its caring staff, attentive teachers, and community-focused families provide such a constant foundation, so kids could learn and grow to be well rounded and confident individuals. "

Jamie
Current Parent

Providing preschool students with a nature-filled "classic" childhood.

A connection to nature is key to a child's development. It opens up their world. They do as much learning outside as inside. They can be freer, braver, and stronger in nature and our campus on 22-acres provides that for the young child. We offer them the opportunity to explore within safe limits and boundaries. We identify birds and plants and get muddy. Sometimes we just lay in the grass and listen to the wind.

 

How does our Preschool help children develop compassion, leadership, and independence?

When you walk into one of our classrooms, the first thing you'll notice is that each child is focused on independent "work." When they're walking around the room they might offer a student help or say "excuse me." They're learning to be kind and helpful while also developing the skills of concentration, task completion, and independence.

Mixed-Aged Classrooms

Many parents are surprised to learn that Primary Montessori classrooms include children ages 3-6. The reason behind the multi-age classroom is simple: it mirrors society and helps children learn to work together, develop compassion, and gain leadership skills.

A young primary child will often follow older children, looking to them for guidance and modeling their behavior. The older students act as leaders in the classroom, demonstrating grace and courtesy, and helping young children with tasks. Every year the child grows into a new role with more responsibility. This mixed age group creates a culture of kindness, leadership, and teamwork much sought after skills in today's society. 

Practical Life

The Practical Life area includes some of the first materials your child will interact with when they come into our classroom. And when you come in and see these materials, you might wonder why you see spooning, coffee bean grinding or shoe polishing.

 

The big purpose of these Practical Life activities is to help the child develop independence, concentration and control. 

Practical Life activities include pouring water, table washing, preparing snack, flower arranging, as well as care of the environment, such as sweeping, plant watering and gardening.

This type of hands-on exploration and active sensory discovery rewards your child's blossoming curiosity and sets the stage for developing a lifelong love of learning.

Grace & Courtesy

Grace and courtesy skills help children learn how to exist and thrive in a community setting. This skillset builds the foundation for respectfully and successfully working in teams later in life. 

Greeting a person, walking around a rug (instead of stepping on someone’s work), speaking quietly indoors, and waiting quietly rather than interrupting, are all examples of important grace and courtesy skills. 

Preschool Writing, Reading, Math, Science, Art, Music, Grace & Courtesy, PE, Nature & More!

Beyond traditional academics, our Montessori preschool program is created to holistically support the social, emotional, and physical student learning experience.

Writing 

Writing is a lively and exciting skill for the children to develop in Primary. Manual preparation involves the preparation of the hand, the Primary classroom boasts several materials designed for preparing the child’s hand for holding a writing tool, in most cases, a pencil.

The process of writing begins with learning the sounds and symbols that make up wordsThe child will begin writing with the movable alphabet, and then when the hand is ready, they will write on paper with a pencil – from here the possibilities are endless, the door to self-expression is open! 

Reading

The Primary child is exposed to a series of “steps” to aid them in the process of reading. Reading is just that, a process, much of which happens internally for the child. It can be difficult to know whether your child is reading just yet.

 

The processing of determining the symbol, analyzing each sound, and then putting them all together takes time as it builds these “steps” for the child. Some of this process will happen out loud when they begin the work.

Eventually, the child will complete this process internally, and then one day they will start reading everything in sight!

Math

The children begin with the familiar concept of 1-10. We will count and explore quantity. Symbols are then introduced, and then quantity and symbol are put together.

These materials are presented in a one-to-one correspondence, allowing for success of the child. Further into the mathematical materials, children will explore the decimal system, teen and tens, and the different functions of mathematical application (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division). The child will begin completing this work with manipulative materials, then move towards abstraction, by slowly eliminating concrete material.

Science

The Primary child will begin their exploration of science with materials like the botany cabinet – where they will trace different leaf shapes, and learn the names of the leaves. The child will experience the parts of the plant and flower through dissection activities. The child will explore biology through naming and labeling animals and plants through our reading material. The Primary child experiences the natural world through activities like flower arranging, plant care, and even filling the bird feeder!

This introduction to the natural world guides the child to an understanding and knowledge of what fills our planet.

Geography

Through work with this material, children will learn about different families, cultures, foods, practices, clothes, and languages that are part of our world. The Primary classroom will invite families to share their different cultural beliefs on different cultural holidays. The children will work with the puzzle maps, beginning with the world map and then exploring the different continents. 

Exploration of land and water forms provides a sensorial experience of the world around them. Cultural stories enrich the child’s language and experience of what is outside of their immediate world. Exploration of geography is a foundational material, many of the materials have a link to geography, and these aspects are part of the child’s world!

Physical Education

Daily time on the playground provides a useful outlet for the Primary child’s endless energy, while helping his or her body to gain greater coordination, strength and health. 

In addition to the large playground with climbing structures, slides, swings and a sandbox, the Primary children sometimes visit the stable area to see horses, as well as chickens and gardens of the student-run organic farm.

Primary students enjoy long supervised hikes in the woods of Seneca Creek State Park, which borders Butler’s 22-acre campus, giving them the opportunity to learn from the natural outdoor environment around them.

Learn More About Physical Education

Art

Art has a very active role in the Primary classroom. Art appreciation and exploration come in different forms in the classroom. 

The guide in each Primary environment chooses beautiful, relevant pieces of artwork to hang along the walls and put on shelves. The presence of art helps to establish an appreciation and interest in art. Much like the sensorial materials, art exploration is helping the child to establish a sense of aesthetics – it helps them to notice things in their world.

Creative expression through the art materials is a favorite activity in the Primary classroom. Various mediums are present for art exploration: crayons, collage (gluing), clay, water color, and different types of cutting.

Learn More About Art

Music 

Along with art appreciation, children in the Primary environment develop an appreciation for music. The Bells are a musical piece of material in the sensorial area. The bells help the child to develop a sense of tone and pitch discrimination. They will mix and match the bells, compose their own tunes and eventually read and write music. The children will be exposed to different composers and types of music through listening activities. Children will take part in group singing often. Singing is a group activity that creates a sense of community!

Learn More About Music

Culture

During their time in the Primary, students explore different cultures in many ways. In geography students explore different languages, dress, and traditions celebrated around the world. 

Music is another way Primary students explore culture. From singing songs in different languages and from around the world, students not only learn about language but also about the country it came from. 

Parents are invited to come in during the year and share their culture and traditions. In this video, a parent shares their cultural celebration.

Frequently Asked Questions

A Typical Montessori Day:

8:45 am: The three hour work period begins. Children are given lessons during this time or engage in a piece of work like sandpaper letters (a precursor to reading and writing), golden bead addition (mathematics), sewing (fine motor skills), or preparing snack (part of Practical Life and skill building). 

*Snack* A hungry child can't focus on lessons so children can choose when to take snack during the morning session. Snack preparation (cutting vegetables and fruit, setting out a sample "snack plate" and other tasks help the child with Practical Life skills)

11:40 am: Hiking on our 22-acre campus, gardening, visiting the Intermediate student-run farm, or playground time

12:00 pm: Half day students depart. Lunch begins. Students help arrange the tables and set the places.

12:30 pm: Lunch ends. Students help wash dishes and clean the room (as part of Practical Life).

12:30 pm: Outside Exploration

1:00 pm: A two hour work period begins. 

3:00 pm: Student dismissal 

The beauty of the Montessori environment is that teachers have the ability to sense the children's needs and respond to them. 

Although a typical day includes a three hour morning work period (statistically linked to increased focus and concentration), sometimes the children have boundless energy and need an outlet. 

The teacher may decide a hike through the woods would be a better way to start the day or perhaps begin with gardening. 

Many parents come to our school looking for traditional "small class sizes" because they believe a small class size equals more personalized attention.

However, they are surprised when they observe our classrooms to see that a larger group of Montessori children functions much better than a traditional environment.

Here children engage in individual or small group lessons with teachers. They choose their "work" (which never feels like work!) so they're passionate about their lessons and excited to learn every day. 

Although Montessori classroom sizes vary between 17-26 students with an AMI-certified teacher and assistant, it never feels too large. In fact, parents are in awe of the peaceful and meaningful way students engage with each other and the lessons.

On an average day, you'll find a 6-year-old student helping a 3-year-old prepare snack. You'll find a child quietly sitting, absorbed in a math problem. Or you might see the teacher giving a lesson with a student on sandpaper letters (which helps them learn cursive and sounds) at the center table. 

The day flows smoothly as children are excited to learn and treat each other with respect and kindness (part of the Montessori curriculum). 

The Montessori approach is child-centered and based on the child’s stages of development.

In a Montessori classroom, children of different ages work independently and seek help from the teacher or other students as needed. Working in this manner facilitates peer-to-peer learning, which allows students to deepen their understanding of the material.

…because in real life:

The Montessori method is uniquely suited for preparing students for today’s highly dynamic work environment.

Here’s just one example: The Agile methodology has been widely adopted in leading technology and research enterprises.

The similarities between Montessori and Agile are striking. The Agile Manifesto describes it as “a collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional groups promoting adaptive planning, evolutionary development, and rapid and flexible response to change.” This describes what takes place every day in a Montessori classroom.

How do our teachers compare to traditional teachers? Our teachers receive vigorous training through Association of Montessori International and specialize in a particular age group (ex: ages 3-6 in the Primary classroom).

This allows them to respond to a child's emotional, social, and academic needs and give them the support and love they need to thrive.

Teachers calmly help children resolve conflicts and model behavior for the children. They are kind and caring and know when a child needs a hug or is having a rough day.

We attract and retain the highest level of teacher because they believe in the Montessori philosophy and the benefits to the children. They love being a part of our close-knit community and support our school's mission.  

Montessori teachers guide children through activities, rather than decide and direct what should or shouldn’t be done. Traditional preschool teachers follow a curriculum or a set order of each class instead. 

Montessori teachers follow the individual needs and interests of each child, whereas traditional schools set the same tasks for each child regardless of his or her learning capacity.

Montessori lessons are also extremely active and hands-on, encouraging children to solve problems and learn for themselves. On the other hand, more traditional preschools mostly teach in a way which means the students to learn more passively by listening, memorizing and repeating information.

Montessori teachers respect and even encourage a child to go at their own pace with each activity. In traditional classrooms, it is often expected that all children will complete each activity at the same pace, or stop doing it if not finished within the time allocated.

YES! If you want a sense of how influential the Montessori method can be, just ask today’s accomplished CEOs, business leaders, innovators, and artists. People such as Larry Page and Sergei Brin (the founders of Google), Jeff Bezos (CEO of Amazon), Grammy Award-winning artist Taylor Swift, and author Helen Keller all enjoyed an early Montessori education that helped provide them the foundation for their careers.

In many ways, the Montessori classroom mimics the world of work, offering your child practice at developing skills that will serve them well throughout their career.

Your child will be encouraged to develop a sense of teamwork with both older and younger children. And by allowing your child to pursue their education at their own pace, one-on-one, your child can foster the independence, self-discipline, and confidence needed to spearhead work projects, find innovative solutions, and be a leader on their job.

See our Primary Preschool in action!

Interested in learning more about our Preschool program? Visit our beautiful 22-acre campus for a personalized tour of our award-winning green school programs, organic student-run farm, and our experiential academic learning environments.

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