The primary environment facilitates the independent learning and exploration of the child according to the needs of the child of this age group. It consists of five key learning areas.
Practical life exercises: These basic exercises are purposeful, useful, and are part of our lives. Exercising like walking on the line help them gain control of their movement. These exercises are focused on taking care of themselves and taking care of the environment so that they become independent. Exercises around the preliminary activities like carrying the chair and folding the mat help the child be a part of the world around him. Grace and courtesy help the child learn the etiquette of the community.
Sensorial: The child is a sensorial explorer. The senses are the windows to the world around him. These exercises refine and make the children aware of their senses. They help the child become clear and conscious of the world around him. These activities prepare the child to do more complex activities, helps build concentration, learn to complete an activity from choosing an activity, work on it as long as the child wants to and winding the activity, and placing it in its designated place. etc.
Characteristics of Sensorial activities:
Language: Language is made of sounds. English is a phonetic and is not a phonetic language. Initially, children are introduced phonetic, and as they mature they are introduced to not phonetic language. Children are equipped with spoken language when they enter the primary environment at the age of 2 years and 6 months. The children are learning the day they enter the Montessori environment. They are exposed to rich language with correct articulation, enunciation, and punctuation. Montessori beautifully blends speaking, writing, and reading.
Dr. Montessori observed that children learn to write and then learn to read. The child learns to write stress-free as there is a lot of indirect preparation that happens before the actual act of writing. Children slowly enhance their vocabulary due to the rich learning environment through three-part cards, nomenclature cards, and continuous exposure to reading books. They are introduced to these at various stages according to the sensitive periods of development and observing the individual child.
Mathematics: Numbers are an abstract concept, and understanding numbers comes from experience with real objects. It uses the ability to count and use numerical computation on numbers, and for this to happen the child needs to be in a state of readiness.
Dr. Maria Montessori said that the child is equipped with a mathematical mind. By working on practical life, sensorial activities, the child has established internal order, precision in movement, work habit, the ability to follow and complete a work cycle, ability to concentrate, and to follow a process.
Mathematics is more than just numbers; it is about the ability to know shapes, sizes, estimation, needs to quantify, to see the similarity, difference, and patterns, to make order and sequence, and to control error. The Montessori environment uses all the senses to introduce mathematics from a young age.
Children in the Montessori environment are introduced to arithmetic, geometry, statistics, and calculus. The presentation of the material follows a pattern.
The concrete materials for arithmetic are materialized abstractions. These hands-on activities are self-correcting and self-teaching. Hands are the instrument for intelligence. As they work on these activities to master and move from concrete to abstraction. After working with different materials the child can do the operations without the help of material.
Culture: Cultural activities lead the child to understand that all beings are interconnected. Among all, humans are the most intelligent, and hence it’s greater responsibility to preserve and take care of the universe. The child is part of the universe. This starts with understanding the land and water forms, the different biomes, adaptation of animals and plants. The puzzle maps familiarise themselves with the different countries of the world, the culture, tradition, and festivals of a place. In Botany and Zoology, children classify the living and non-living beings, the classification of vertebrates and invertebrates, their habitat. Children learn the parts of livings beings: tree, plant, leaf, etc. Parts of Amphibian, reptile, mammal, birds, and fishes. They also perform simple experiments to understand the world. These activities help the child to experience art & music.