Montessori philosophy tells us that children have stages, or planes, of development. The first of these is from birth to age six. During these years, called the Absorbent Mind Period, children go through sensitive periods of order, language, movement, reading, writing, etc. The 3-year cycle in a Montessori Primary program reflects the second half of this plane of development and the sensitive periods that accompany it.
After two years, children have become confident in their classroom and with their teachers. They have worked with many of the materials and can’t wait to master more of them. They are now in a position to be leaders and role models to the younger children as they take on various leadership roles within the classroom. They set the tone and serve as an example of appropriate behavior in the classroom. The experience of serving in this leadership role does wonders to reinforce the five-year-old’s sense of autonomy and self-confidence. —
The program ensures that 3rd year children have ample experience and instruction in all subject areas, including: mathematics, written and spoken language, sensorial activities, physical science, geography, biology, Spanish, and peace education.
Children will by now have gained pre-reading and pre-writing skills. They will continue to compose and read more complex short vowel words, long vowel (or silent-e) words, sight words, and phonograms. They will solidify the decoding skills of reading and will have plenty of practice time as they read aloud to their teachers, classmates, and parents, and follow written directions in their work and their goal pad.
Similarly, they are gaining a solid understanding of numbers and the decimal system. In their 3rd year they will practice their number formation and manipulate numbers to complete addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of numbers. As the year progresses, they will gain a deeper understanding of how numbers work and can be made to work, leading to later abstract math work.
Third-year children’s bodies continue to grow in height and strength; they now have the stamina to engage in longer works, and works requiring more intense and focused periods of concentration. These are generally the highest level of works in the primary program. By working to gain skills in manipulation and concentration in the first two years, the 3rd-year child now has the emotional, social, and physical strength to practice what he/she has learned, to master it, and then to extend it into the beginnings of abstraction.
Reading and writing work:
- Children are encouraged and are eager to produce longer writing output in creative writing books
- They learn valuable dictionary skills
- 3rd years have a dedicated library time and may borrow books
- Children gain a deeper understanding of place value (decimal system). They work with the concrete materials and they perform operations with four digit numbers.
- They gain an understanding of linear, skip counting, squaring and cubing numbers up to 1,000.
- They gain a concrete understanding of fractions.
Five-year-olds are beginning to reflect upon their world. They pay close attention, are highly observant, ask more questions, and begin to explain the world in their own terms. Everything they have learned so far becomes more integrated. They have been, and continue to be, allowed to develop at their own pace, to ask questions, to sit and think, to work alone or with a friend, and if they are not yet ready for the next concept or lesson they are neither “left behind” nor made to feel like a failure. The goal is not that children develop at a predetermined pace, but to ensure that whatever they do, they do well and feel good about themselves as learners and leaders.