The Primary Environment (Ages 3 – 6)

Montessori identified sensitive learning periods in a child’s development and planned her materials to match these stages. In a Children’s House classroom, the adult demonstrates the 2013-11-04 11.13.30use of the materials to the students one-on-one or in small groups and then fades into the background to observe. Children work and self-correct, becoming more and more independent and confident. The adult only intervenes when she sees that the child is ready for a particular lesson. The joy of conquering a learning task belongs to the child alone, and he achieves greater freedom the more he can do himself.

Since children at the primary level learn through their senses, all lessons start with physical objects that the children manipulate, and then each lesson builds upon previous lessons, developing the motor and cognitive powers of the child.  In the four main areas of work (Practical Living, Sensorial, Language, and Math) there are constant lessons in grace and courtesy, making the classroom a pleasant and respectful place. In this setting, there are no rewards and no punishments. “The prize and punishments are incentives toward unnatural or forced effort, and, therefore we certainly cannot speak of the natural development of the child in connection with them”  (The Montessori Method). There is no need to motivate the children with rewards since they are intrinsically interested in working and manipulating the items in the classroom. And if a child makes a mistake in working, the teacher simply notes that she should revisit the lesson with the child on another day. (Excerpt from Saint Dominic’s Academy Parent Handbook)


Practical Life exercises, the cornerstone of a Montessori environment, build concentration skills and fine motor coordination while doing meaningful work in the classroom.
Funnel pouring Carrot peeling washing dishes ironing


Sensorial activities develop powers of discrimination, refining the child’s senses. Activities require discrimination of size, weight, smell, texture, color, and shape.
Geometric Solids_1Children learn the names and properties of the geometric solids. Constructive trianglesWith the constructive triangle material, students discover the use of triangles in other geometric shapes. 2013-11-05 09.30.36Students match the sounds in 2 sets of sound cylinders.


Language: A myriad of language activities build a child’s oral language skills. Then reading is taught through a series of specific progression of lessons where he first becomes aware of the different sounds in a word. Students begin spelling with a movable alphabet and progress to writing letters and words.
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Metal insets provide practice with all the strokes needed for handwriting.
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As students are ready they progress to reading!


Mathematics: The child first learns to count through understanding that numbers represent a specific amount. Children learn addition, subtraction, multiplication and division through hands-on materials and then make the transition to the use of numerals.
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