The Cycle 1 pre-school classroom caters for children aged 3-5 years of age. Children under the age of six have extraordinary powers of mind. They have a universal, once in a life time ability to absorb knowledge from their surroundings with what Montessori called the ‘absorbent mind’. The absorbent mind is at its peak receptivity during the preschool years. In order to be calm and happy, children under 6 years of age need to explore and discover. They are curious about everything. They learn by touching and manipulating objects. They are keenly attuned to everything that stimulates their senses: shapes, sounds, smells, textures and tastes. They want to master the movements of their own bodies by learning to balance, run, skip and jump. They also respond to order because of their innate need to know where things belong and how pieces fit together. The children of this age are also absorbing the social norms and graces of the society in which they live. In a Montessori environment the child is presented with the lessons of the ‘Grace & Courtesy’ curriculum. The classroom is prepared by the teacher to meet the needs of the child.
- Period of the ‘Absorbent Mind’
- Acquisition of concepts through the senses
- Exploration through touch
- Dependence on family
- Physically active in learning
- Likes to please
- Inner drive
- Increasingly independent
- Orderly use of the classroom
- Sensitive periods
- Sensitivity to order in the environment
- Sensitivity to language
What to expect in the Cycle 1 Pre-school Classroom
The Montessori Pre-school room allows children to move, touch, manipulate and explore. In this environment they learn to work independently, based on their own initiative which builds concentration, self discipline and self-esteem. The Montessori classroom includes children of mixed ages 3-5 years, who stay with the same teacher for all their pre-school years (the period of the Absorbent Mind). This fosters stability and security for the young child. In this setting, the children learn from each other and they learn because of each other. Younger children can observe the activities and the modelling of the older children while older children have the opportunity to reinforce their knowledge by sharing it with the younger children. From Kahn, D: What is Montessori Preschool? NAMTA 1995 The Montessori Pre-school classroom is a ‘living room’ for children. All the furniture is child sized and all the materials are scaled to fit the physical dimensions of a pre-schooler’s body. “The essence of independence is to be able to do something for one’s self. Adults work to finish a task, but the child works in order to grow and is working to create the adult, the person that is to be. Such experience is not just play…..It is work he must do in order to grow up” Montessori, M, Montessori Method Chapter 4
Aims of Cycle 1: the Pre-school Classroom
To encourage the children to work independently in a safe and calm environment. To enhance knowledge of their world around them, planting seeds of interest for future learning. To assist with transition from the home/childcare environment to preschool via a Transition Program where a child of two years attends with an adult parent/carer for one session per week. Toddlers attend over a period of one to two terms prior to commencing pre-school at around three years of age.
Pre-school (3 & 4 years)
Our Pre-school is built around the child’s natural love of learning, and aims to lay the foundations for a life-long motivation for learning. Pre-school children attend three half-day sessions a week or two half day sessions. As the children interact with their teachers and use the equipment, they are unconsciously beginning their formal education. Their pre-school learning forms the foundation for further education. The program offered is designed to develop concentration, self-discipline and social skills in a structured yet home-like environment. Pre-school age children have a great ability to absorb the world around them. All children have sensitive periods when it is easier to learn a particular skill. These periods come at slightly different times in each child’s life. Our teachers are trained to recognise these sensitive periods so that they can teach the skill or concept when each child is ready to absorb it. Our pre-school staff strives to make the transition from home to school a gentle one and respond to individual needs. The Practical Life curriculum provides the link between home and school where children can acquire daily living skills. Children develop concentration, independence and co-ordination through practical life activities such as food preparation, washing, pouring, polishing, threading and caring for the environment. The sensorial Montessori materials are designed to assist children in focusing on detail, becoming more perceptive and understanding concepts though matching and grading materials and using their senses. The materials in a Montessori classroom are carefully designed and thoroughly researched to fit the developmental needs and characteristics of children. We use the Montessori materials to enhance the child’s understanding of numeracy, literacy and learning for every day life. Our classrooms also feature many familiar materials including art, craft and painting equipment, puzzles and construction sets. Children have a strong sense of order so everything has its proper place and there are regular routines. Classroom fittings and equipment are deliberately sized to suit the needs of the child. In addition the Pre-school curriculum provides children with experiences in geography, history, biology, art and physical education. Children enjoy a whole class Music lesson once a week with the specialist Music teacher and have the opportunity to work with our Indonesian teacher once a week if they choose to.
Children enter this program around 4½ years of age however entry into this program is determined on the child’s readiness and availability of places. Extended Day children attend from 9:15 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. four days a week and a half day session on Wednesday. These sessions are a more conscious construction of personal and academic skills in preparation for a successful foundation to the years of primary education. Extended Day children also enjoy a Physical Education lesson with our specialist PE teacher once a week and two music sessions with our specialist Music teacher.
Care facilities are available for the students enrolled in the Pre-school and Extended Day programs after they have completed their Pre-school or Extended Day session. To apply for this program a Registration form needs to be completed which is available from the school office. The Government’s Child Care Benefit applies to Pre-school, Extended Day and Long Day Care programs.