6 to 11 years old
A full Primary group and bilingual integrated curriculum is available at both Tervuren and ‘Hof Kleinenberg’ locations. The Primary caters to children aged 6 to 11. These years 1 to 5 are split in two groups, thus providing the necessary multi-age range that creates an environment with a multitude of experiences that help students become adaptable and socially in tune with others.
In the Primary one of the main guidelines is to ‘help me to learn to think by myself!’ The aim of Montessori education is to foster competent, responsible, contributing and flexible citizens who are lifelong learners. At the Primary age, children are specifically sensitive to the acquisition of knowledge and are very interested in the world at large. A vast curriculum is offered, giving young students the beginnings of all subjects including aspects of physics, chemistry and geometry. As one parent commented while attending a Primary class exhibit, “I didn’t do this until I was in Secondary!” Primary years are calm; it does not have the intensity that goes together with the physical and emotional changes of the subsequent stage. This is why at Montessori, subject content of the Secondary is brought forward in an interesting and concrete manner.
Learning occurs in an inquiring, cooperative and nurturing atmosphere. Students increase their own knowledge through teacher-initiated activities and autonomous work. The Montessori materials help the student to move to abstract understanding, by being actively involved, their brains are able to store the knowledge in the long-term memory.
The teachers are in the position to work with smaller or larger groups, introducing new concepts, revising previously taught lessons, rehearsing needed facts, or exposing the children to another aspect of the world surrounding them. Having a mindset that is capable of extending beyond the here and now, stories are told, that light their flame of imagination. These stories can either take the children with them back or forwards in time, space or place. Such an approach to presenting this fascinating place we live in, allows for many different small group studies, individual projects or an extended research. By making study plans, timelines, draft readings and establishing deadlines, the teachers help the children to work and study in a conducive manner. Managing these variety of topics is part of the daily activities of the teachers, with the added bonus that there is an ongoing buzz of activities and excitement going on.
In order to assist the development of self-esteem, children are only compared to themselves. They are always stimulated to do the best they can. Teachers provide this positive environment and they approach learning in a collaborative manner.
Due to the multi-age range, children do not see each other as competition but as supporters and team members, thus simulating the real world and creating the skills necessary in the future work place. Working in mixed aged groups, a healthy work attitude is established early on in the first term, as the new students to the class adapt to the culture of effort they observe from the returning students. Some of the children who have already participated for one or two years in the group, automatically take on the role of leader under the guidance of the teachers, based upon the previous years where they have experienced positive role-models.
The teachers guide the students in their process of becoming balanced social beings. On the one hand they encourage the children to become strong and confident, whilst on the other hand they stimulate students in staying a positive group member by setting the appropriate limits and giving choices where appropriate.
The vast curriculum of the Primary answers the Primary child’s urge for knowledge. This is the age when the child really wants to know ‘Why’. They become interested in the world at large and are finding out how and why things are the way they are. The classroom therefore offers a holistic curriculum in an integrated manner. Thereby helping students to see phenomena from different points of view that stimulate the development of divergent thinking.
The integrated curriculum consists of:
The students start with memorisation and understanding of all aspects related to the four operations. With this basic knowledge in place they move on to fractions, complex multiplications and long divisions. First it is done on a very concrete level and then passages to abstraction are provided. Thus helping the children develop true understanding and readiness to continue. Signed numbers, percentages and decimal numbers are next which together with multiples and divisibility form the basis of knowledge needed for algebra and for being able to perform more complex equations at a later stage. Square root and cube root assist the students in developing skills related to abstract thinking, deductive reasoning and problem solving.
Students work initially through the fundamental concepts that include learning parts and segments of different shapes, being able to measure angles and calculate pi. After having been introduced to the concepts of similarity congruency and equivalence, children can move on to calculation of area and eventually volume.
Languages: Bilingual environment with English and French
Children first learn to read in the language they speak best. As soon as this process is well on its way, the second language is also offered at the written level, thereby helping students in becoming bilingual at a verbal and written level. The language curriculum additionally covers grammar as a tool to refine one’s oral and written language, starting with the function of words and ending with reading analyses. Creative writing, research and essay writing is all part of the process in skill building.
The sciences: biology, chemistry and physics
The sciences and humanity components are offered both as an isolated topic and also interrelated to one another. Students learn the topic-specific details and simultaneously see how these details depend and relate to each other. This gives the message that we are part of a whole in which every organism plays a role in benefitting others or even potentially harming others. This ecological and responsible mindset is developed through the curriculum.
Humanities: geography, history, ecology and social science
Through presentations, timelines, charts, nomenclature, stories, work in teams and autonomous work, the child is exposed to the structure of the earth, the work of the sun, air, rain and water. The child learns how physical conditions have impacted the path of human history. By means of economic geography they find out the interdependencies between human kind and nature.
The Primary child goes once a week to the local sportshall and practices basic body coordination, develops skills with balls, hoops, mats and other gym material. The younger children are involved in games that enhance cooperation and the older ones are introduced to traditional sports. Additionally outdoor activities are organised in the gardens that includes circus and acrobatic related skills.
The arts: visual, performing and music
The arts are seen equally important to all other subjects. Our right brain needs as much stimulation as the left. These two hemispheres work together in creative thinking and in finding multiple solutions. Children all play an instrument, sing songs, take part in acting, drama and choir activities. These skills all culminate in a unique annual theatre performance. Arts and crafts are integrated in the full curriculum and are related to studies of specific concepts or purely skill building activities.
Together with everything they learn in the classroom, the students, with the help of the teachers, learn to plan and execute related excursions. The children are given the message that one does not have all answers and that an investigative mind is necessary to find out more! We call this the ‘Going Out’ programme. In small groups, with a guide, children go and find out. They visit museums, zoos, factories, shops, botanical gardens and so on and upon their return they include the information into their written work and share their experiences with the others.
Parent Infant Group (0 – 1 years)
Toddler Community (15 months – 3 years)
Children’s House (3 year – 6 years)
Primary Years (6 – 11 years)
International Baccalaureate – Middel Years Programme (11 – 16 years)
International Baccalaureate – Diploma Programme (aged 16 and up)