Follow the Child.
Our Primary program is a three-year cycle in a family classroom, where students around three to five years of age work side-by-side to develop new skills and make new discoveries.
Primary children are engaged by learning. They have mastered control of their body and bodily functions, and are verbally, socially, and emotionally ready to responsibly work on their own and participate in a structured, multilevel community environment. Some of the most important skills to which Primary students are introduced include:
Learning to put things away in the proper place, keep track of belongings, and to follow the intrinsic order of the materials
Waiting to use favorite materials, have a seat at the snack table, or have the undivided attention of an adult
Motor skills that predicate the ability to dress, wash, fold, pack, serve, etc. are perfected as children are given the opportunity to care for themselves without adult interference or judgment. Seeing older children accomplish new tasks further develops interest
Identification of new feelings and processing experiences broadens children’s range of expression and improves vocabulary and language skills
Children are presented with supervised, structured opportunities to improve traits like geniality, recovery, acceptance, courtesy, and empathy
A strong drive to learn is developed through positive association to the concept of “work,” intrinsically rewarding activities and accomplishments, and following the example of other children
Freedom and Discipline
There are three basic rules in all classrooms:
- Respect yourself – Take care of your body and personal belongings.
- Respect other people – Treat others with kindness, empathy, and compassion.
- Respect the environment – Take care of the materials, our classroom, and our school.
Observation, follow-through, role-playing, problem-solving and conflict resolution lend consistency and evenhandedness in the enforcement of these rules. As children’s self control naturally develops, they enjoy an increasing degree of freedom in the classroom. They are able to choose what they want to do, when they want to do it, and with whom they would like to work.
Continuity of Care
Ideally, children stay in the same classroom environment for as long as possible (the optimal Primary cycle is three successive years). This allows teachers, parents, and children to develop very intimate relationships. Teachers can better recognize a child’s feelings, needs, and interests, including when the child is in a period of intense intellectual growth (requiring extra attention and increased lessons), and when that same child’s attention is clearly focused on social relations or emotional growth. In early childhood, children benefit immensely from guidance on how to get along with others. Each year at the Primary level is different as children move from being the youngest to the oldest students. They feel at home in the class and develop a repertoire of work as they enjoy time to practice and to repeat, perfecting skills and increasing knowledge, and finally to teach and lead, as they become the models for younger students in the classroom.
The teacher’s role in the Primary classroom is to observe children individually and note their interests, then to guide and stimulate that interest through the introduction of materials and lessons. At the same time, the teachers make certain that children are introduced to and aware of all parts of the curriculum. Teachers keep detailed records of individual and group lessons given to children. This process helps teachers avoid overlooking a quiet child and over-teaching a demanding child. Progress in social and emotional development is also noted. Developmental Profiles are prepared twice yearly to provide feedback to parents, and parent-teacher-student conferences are conducted at least twice per year. Although the classroom environment may seem very academically-oriented, our primary goals are to help children develop confidence in themselves, an independence of thought and action that encourages them to make decisions, and the understanding that they are responsible for their actions as well as for their own learning. During their time in our Primary program we hope that children’s curiosity about the world around them increases and that they develop a sense of obligation to help others.