Extended Primary – The Third Year

The third and final year of the Montessori primary three-year cycle is one of the most important years in a child’s Early Childhood development journey.  After two full years, the Montessori classroom is a familiar environment for these five-year-olds.  They know the daily routines inside and out; their teachers know them well and can work to their strengths and encourage them to tackle challenges.  They are fully aware of being the oldest students in the classroom having lived through two years of transitions starting when they were three.

During their third year in the Primary classroom, students (and you) will notice the phenomenon Maria Montessori called “explosion into learning.”  Students experience mastery and control over skills and concepts they have practiced during their two previous primary years.  This mastery, along with their position as the oldest students, solidifies the child’s self-esteem and develops their leadership skills.

Villa Montessori Preschool’s Extended Primary curriculum includes units that combine language, math, art, science, geography, history, and cultural studies.  A low student/teacher ratio allows for highly personalized teaching.  During the morning, Extended Primary students spend their time as part of their blended age classrooms completing work in both the Montessori and Reggio areas of the classroom.  In the afternoons, the Extended Primary children meet as a community for more advanced lessons and opportunities to collaborate on multi-step projects which may include creating their own world maps, creative writing, and handwriting practice.

Language for Reading Comprehension

All the work your child has done during the first two years with the sandpaper letters, learning the sounds and the symbols of the letters, and building words with the moveable alphabet now forms the foundation for reading.  It’s not just the act of acquiring comprehension and fluency that will keep your child busy and engaged.  There is work with nouns, adjectives, verbs, etc. – everything that forms a strong foundation in grammar – as well as perfecting cursive handwriting, creating and writing stories and so much more!

Problem Solving Skills

In math, your child has already mastered or is well on their way to mastering counting to 1000.  Their exposure to the decimal system has already prepared them for the beginning of arithmetic where they will begin to work with the four operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.  They will begin to memorize math facts which is an all-important first step in problem solving skills.  As you can imagine, their exploration into science and cultural studies will be just as enriching and preparatory.

Development of Leadership Skills

Going beyond the academic advantages that take place, third-year Primary students at Villa Montessori Preschool are given a very important and special role.  They are now the “Leaders” in the classroom.  They now have the opportunity to share their experiences and knowledge with their younger classmates.  This mentoring process helps them develop empathy, self-esteem, and self-confidence.  As their leadership skills develop, they will also learn enthusiasm for the learning process which they can use to adapt to any situation throughout their lives.

Why the Three-Year Cycle is Important

When a child transfers from Montessori to traditional kindergarten, they will spend the first several months adjusting to a new class, a new teacher and a whole new system with different expectations.  It is entirely possible that your child’s class will have students who do not know how to recognize numbers, letters, or letter sounds.  In Montessori, your child can continue to progress at their own pace.  In traditional kindergarten, your child will have to wait while the other children begin to catch up.  In most traditional kindergarten classrooms, children complete worksheets and learning is focused on rote drill and memorization.  True comprehension is rarely achieved.  Montessori is focused on teaching for understanding providing a more meaningful and deeper learning experience.