Our Primary Curriculum (Grades K - 2)
Kindergarten, first, and second grade are some of the most critical years in a student’s development of foundational skills in literacy, writing, and mathematics, and our primary program intentionally focuses on these skills. The result is that our students are being prepared for the world, far beyond their educational journey. Ultimately, we are preparing our students for life!
We teach our primary children to satisfy their physical, psychological, and emotional needs. Physically, we instruct them to explore the world through movement. Through physical movement, carefully directed and individualized activities, the children develop independence, self-confidence, and self-control. Responsibility and independence give the children an understanding that they matter in this world.
Our approach to the education of kindergarten through second grade can be understood as a bridge between a Montessori education and the customized approach seen in our upper grade levels:
- Students spend each day in a self-contained classroom with one main teacher.
- Student-to-teacher ratios do not exceed 12 students.
- The Montessori approach is used in many areas of learning, especially mathematics, writing, fine motor development, and the development of sustained, independent focus.
- Until a child is reading extraordinarily well, we implement a deliberate, systematic, and sequential approach to fluency and comprehension that’s rooted in phonics-based instruction.
Montessori Based Thinking in the Primary Program
We Nurture Communicators:
At Vine, questions and engagement are encouraged, allowing students to fully experience their work and express their feelings comfortably within a group. Students learn to communicate openly and honestly. We also validate our student’s feelings, emotions, and frustrations. Knowing that each student handles their emotions differently, we discuss a variety of coping strategies, then help each child discover specific the tools that work best for him or her.
We Embrace the Skill of Observation
Ultimately, students learn by observation. This skill is critical, because it helps children learn how to live in the world around them. Observation is a fundamental approach to learning. From birth, children observe everything around them! Maria Montessori believed that children in the primary years have an especially absorbent mind and are able to pick up everything that happens around them. We embrace this perspective and encourage our students to learn from other students, giving them opportunities to teach and learn from their peers.
We Valued Mixed ages
Our mixed age primary classroom leads to natural observation. Students are exposed to a wide variety of work and skills which expose them to ideas they’ll likely learn and use in the future. The 3-year difference in our primary students’ ages promotes a natural desire to help others, further developing confidence and leadership. Children are skilled observers and master imitators; this multi-age grouping allows them to learn from their teacher as well as their peers. Because teaching leads to deeper understanding, we encourage our students to learn from one another!
We Follow the Child
There’s no “one-size-fits-all” method to teaching children. In our primary program, the teacher is the sculptor of the activities and experiences that allow the child to flourish and become a self-directed learner. Children learn in a variety of ways, and we recognize these needs in our students! By following individual children’s needs, we help them explore concepts and ideas that interest them, promoting valuable self-directed learning!
We Foster Independence at a Young Age
Children are capable of doing so much and often achieve more than others expect them of them! We embrace their desire for independence, pushing our primary students to accomplish age-appropriate tasks on their own. Every child has an inner need and desire to help, so when he is able to accomplish a task his or her own, we encourage him to do it. Through guided instruction, we communicate our confidence in their ability to accomplish tasks for themselves, and they grow in pride and ownership of their learning!
We Build Executive Functioning Skills Early
Our program develops students’ executive functioning and decision-making skills from the start. Through executive functioning instruction, we strengthen students' organizational skills, time-management, and sustained focus. In our primary classroom, students learn that everything has a place or “home,” learn how to follow visual and written schedules, and learn how to sustain focus for longer and longer periods of time. These re the foundational skills that will allow them to succeed in traditional classrooms in the upper grades.
At Vine, we directly instruct our primary students according to the unique season of learning they're in. With a strong focus on helping them develop curiosity, observation, and independence, our goal is to prepare each child to be a successful student, both in the upper grades and for life!