Authentic Montessori

Primary Program

Preschool and Kindergarten, ages 3 to 6

As you step into a Rhyme and Reason Academy primary classroom, the first thing you notice is that it’s peaceful. The next thing you notice is how busy it is! There is a buzz of activity as children move through the classroom, but they are purposeful, not rambunctious.

While a three-year-old intently polishes a mirror, a four year old is adding digits into the thousands, and a five-year old is identifying articles, adjectives, and nouns in a silly sentence. In a far corner, you spot the assistant surrounded by a small posse, singing a song. In another part of the room you spot the lead teacher, silently giving a lesson with blocks to one child. A younger child rushes to help an older child with a spill. Two young girls giggle at the snack table.

At Rhyme and Reason Academy, all of this is important work. Through activity the child constructs the individual they are striving to become. It is our jobs as educators to observe and assist the child in the creation of that unique self. Our teachers watch for readiness and gently entice the student to work that will allow their natural curiosity to flourish. To that end, the cornerstones of our program are:

child holding a sweeper Photo by KATRIN  BOLOVTSOVA on Pexels.com

Developing Independence Through Practical Life

Purposeful Activities Lay the Groundwork for a Child’s Growth and Development

The first materials your child will work with are the ‘practical life’ activities, such as pouring, grinding coffee, and washing tables. But why?

These lessons are designed to be real, culturally relevant, and purposeful tasks involving authentic tools. The practical life activities are in place so that your child can develop a sense of capability and competence – building genuine self-esteem.

These activities are complex, multi-step works that truly stretch a child’s executive function skills. They are designed to be meaningful, self-correcting tasks that can be independently completed. With each repetition, concentration and precision are built up. With each attempt, their little hands grow stronger and more precise, indirectly preparing the child for writing. Perhaps most importantly, these works provide a methodical problem-solving mindset that can be built upon for all academic subjects.

Practical life activities build executive function, concentration, and self-esteem – truly an incredible foundation for the rest of their lives.

Montessori Primary

Frequently Asked Questions

In brief: Montessori classrooms are Time Variable, Mastery Fixed; Conventional classrooms are Time Fixed, Mastery Variable.

Montessori classrooms treat every child as an individual, with a unique path to mastery. Conventional classrooms are organized around the logistical needs of the teacher- teaching the whole class the same lesson at the same time.

Time: A “cycle” in Montessori is three years long with mixed-age classes, whereas conventional education has “grades” that are one year long and children are grouped by birthday.

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all education. Children progress at different rates in different subject areas. Perhaps your child is a voracious reader but still working on arithmetic? Perhaps your child is obsessed with dinosaurs, but can’t quite read the text on the page? The Montessori method embraces the uniqueness of your child and helps them grow in all domains, at their own pace.

With the flexibility of a three year cycle, combined with a mixed-age class, children are grouped by ability, not by birthday. Say a 4 year old is very adept at mathematics? Great! She can work with a 6 year old who is on the same lesson. Maybe that same 4 year old needs extra practice with reading? Great! We have the time and flexibility to give as much practice as she needs.

Mastery: Children move on to the next concept when they have mastered the prerequisites. That’s it. No child will be pushed along to the next lesson with only a partial understanding because “it’s time to move on.”

Children are also never held back because their same-age peers aren’t ready to move on. If the content is mastered, it’s time for the next lesson!

Parents are often looking for small class sizes because they believe it will give their child more individual attention.

Which makes parents surprised that our classes are up to 28 children, led by a lead guide and assistants. How could a class so large possibly work? The secret is in the Montessori Materials and the mixed-age classes.

Children in our classes really do get a lot of individual attention, nearly all lessons are given in small groups or one-on-one and each student has an individualized curriculum plan that is tailored to their unique needs. There is no expectation that children will progress in lockstep with their peers.

How does this work? What are the other children doing while these small lessons are occurring? Through the self-correcting materials they are able to practice independently. They are fully absorbed in the latest lesson they’ve been given.

The other piece of magic is the mixed-age class. In a mixed-age class children have many more opportunities to work with and learn from each other. Older students, who have been with the same class for up to three years are very knowledgable and are able to help younger and newer students. Older children get to be mentors and role models. This creates a balance and stability to the classroom culture as well as an opportunity for children to learn from each other.

All of our lead teachers go through rigorous MACTE-accredited Montessori training specialized to the particular age group they teach.

Our teachers not only learn how to present materials and lessons to children, but also the philosophical backbone of the Montessori Method, the latest research on child development, and how to care for a child’s social and emotional needs.

We strive for a high-fidelity program and we know this is only possible through high-quality training.

Yes! The academic standards of a Montessori classroom are typically higher than a conventional preschool/Kindergarten classes.

Children are neither left adrift to have all-day recess, nor expected to achieve above their abilities. We meet each child where they are and help them become the best they can be.

Our Primary program is designed to dove-tail with our Elementary program, providing a seamless path for education from preK to 6th grade.

Within our school, primary teachers are in constant communication with the elementary teachers to make sure children are being prepared for the next level. If a student ages out of primary but is still developing in some domain, our elementary teachers, who are also well-trained in the Montessori Method, are equipped to continue supporting that child’s unique educational journey.

If you ever needed to leave our Montessori classrooms, have no fear, Montessori students regularly perform well above their same-age public school peers. Read more here.

  • All classes are M-F
  • Half-Day is 8:00am – 12:00pm (Recommended for 3 and 4 year olds)
  • Full-Day is 8:00am – 3:00pm (Required for 5 year olds and Kindergarten)

8:00 AM The three-hour work period begins: During this time children receive one-on-one lessons, practice lessons they’ve already received, prepare a snack for themselves, or care for the classroom.

11:00 AM Community Meeting: Children come together as a group after the morning work period. They might receive a grace and courtesy lesson (how to wish someone a Happy Birthday!), solve a classroom problem (should we get a second trashcan near the sink?), or sing songs together.

11:15 AM Lunch: Students help arrange the tables and set the places. Lunches are brought from home.

11:45 AM Recess Begins and Half-Day Student Depart: Half-day is only available for children under the age of 5.

12:30 PM Read Aloud: Children sit and listen to classic stories.

12:45 PM Two-Hour Work Period Begins: Same format as the morning work period. Children may take a nap if needed.

2:45 PM Afternoon Community Meeting: Children come together once again. Here they may present work that they’re proud of to their classmates, sing songs, or listen to another book.

3:00 PM Outdoor play until child is picked up

The beauty of the Montessori classroom is that the rhythm of each day gives the children security, they know the routine of each day, while also allowing for flexibility. Perhaps it’s a beautiful day? Let’s go outside!

Children must be 3 years old by September 5th of that year to join our Primary class on the scheduled first day of school in August.

However, we do offer rolling enrollment, pending a class isn’t already at capacity. Alternate start dates are in October and January.

Please review this checklist to see if your child is developmentally ready to join: View checklist here.

It is never too early to join the waitlist! Sign up here.

Yes, for children ages 3 to 4. Children may come for the first half of the day through lunch and then leave during recess.

All children ages 5 and older must attend full-day school.

No; we only offer a five-day program.

Understandably, you’re exploring scheduling options that best suit your family’s needs. In our commitment to the Montessori philosophy, we’ve found that a five-day program is essential for providing children with a consistent, immersive learning experience that fully supports their natural development and curiosity.

The daily routine fosters a deep sense of belonging and community among the children, which is vital for their social and emotional growth. Moreover, it allows children the uninterrupted time necessary to engage deeply with their work, fostering independence, concentration, and a love for learning that Montessori education aims to cultivate. We’ve observed that children thrive on the continuity and structure that a five-day cycle offers, enabling them to make the most significant strides in their personal and academic development.

Benefits of a Mixed-Age Classroom

Fostering Leadership, Respect, and Peer Mentorship in the Montessori Classroom

The primary mode of learning for very young children is through imitation; they look up to and admire their older peers. In our classrooms, we seize this opportunity.

Our classrooms have a carefully developed culture of respect and learning, and so our oldest students, who have been immersed in this environment for up to three years, set a beautiful example. Young children see their peers, only a mere three years older being helpful, completing difficult work, and demonstrating a refined work ethic. They can easily see themselves also reaching these heights.

The older student benefits immensely as well, they are able to exhibit leadership in whatever form that may take for their personality. Some children love to be helpful. They may help with a tricky zipper, a heavy pitcher of water, or comforting a disappointed classmate. Some children take great pride in their work, they invite others to watch a complicated lesson, or read a book aloud. Some quietly keep the classroom clean and beautiful, tidying a shelf that’s askew, or sweeping up some spilled beans.

Read more about mixed-age classrooms on the blog.

little girl helping her brother with homework. Photo by olia danilevich on Pexels.com

Socializing with Grace & Courtesy

The Montessori Primary class provides countless opportunities for a child to socialize with their peers. These interactions are organic and natural, never forced and artificial. Children in our classes move freely from place to place, they choose where they want to to work and what they want to work on, when they’ll have snack, where to sit and who to sit with! Every one of these choices brings an opportunity to move gracefully and communicate courteously.

Children are given simple, yet explicit lessons on everything from how to push in a chair quietly to blowing your nose to politely declining an invitation to work with a classmate. These lessons give children the tools to interact successfully.

Academics in Montessori Primary

Practical life activities are deliberately designed to have a long series of individual steps, which must be performed in a specific order if the result is to be achieved. Everything is ordered logically, from left to right, top to bottom (this also prepares the child to follow from left to right when learning to read).

In order to retain and follow these steps, your child must practice the skill of thinking logically. For example, say your child’s goal is to arrange a vase of flowers in water. He starts to place the funnel in the vase — then realizes that his pitcher is empty! He forgot to go the sink to get the water. He goes back and gets it. Now he is ready to pour — but the water splashes everywhere! This time around, he forgot the funnel. He places the funnel and pours the water. Now, he’s ready to place the flowers in the vase — but the stems are too long, and the flowers droop! He forgot to cut the stems. He goes back to perform this step. And so on.

Children this age use their senses to explore the world. They enjoy the beautiful sensorial materials and learn to compare and contrast, to discern slight differences, and to place things in order. Both artists and scientists need the ability to really look at what is in front of them: to notice small details about the world that have significance for their work. The sensorial materials also highlight mathematical relationships that exist in the real world, providing the foundation for understanding arithmetic, geometry and algebra. These materials allow a child to develop mastery over his observational powers: the sensorial mastery of the scientist, the artist, the mathematician.

The sensorial materials also prepare your child for mathematical exploration. Mathematical relationships exist in the real world, and the sensorial materials highlight them. For instance, the “constructive triangles” material is fascinating for four and five-year-olds, who love putting the triangles together in different ways to form other shapes. This work prepares them for the study of geometry, as they begin to understand relationships between shapes.

Montessori children experience the wonder of math through engaging materials that inspire concrete understanding and joyful problem-solving, paving the way for a smooth transition to abstraction. In primary, children are exposed to rich and varied mathematical materials that build skills gradually. Each child will work with the decimal system into the thousands, will be exposed to addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division—and through this will develop a keen number sense, the foundation for a lifetime of quantitative and analytic fluency.

Montessori’s beautiful golden bead materials introduce the child to the concepts of the decimal system, place value, quantity, and the four operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Slightly more abstract and symbolic, the “stamp game” uses color-coded tokens (where colors express place value) to revisit the same four operations. Older children learn long division from the “racks and tubes,” where sets of beads allow them to literally divide a quantity that can represent numbers into the thousands.

The Montessori approach to language study makes learning appear effortless, because it recognizes the individuality of each child. Maria Montessori noticed that in each child’s development there is a moment, occurring at a slightly different time for everyone, when the child suddenly becomes interested in written language. When this moment comes, if the tools are available to feed her interest, she will joyfully “explode into” writing, then reading. A child’s guide watches closely for this moment, patiently building the foundation that will allow your child to experience reading and writing with confidence and joy.

Your child will first be introduced to a rich and varied vocabulary, and will later analyze words into sounds. He will then learn to associate each phonetic sound with its corresponding letter, and trace the letter to internalize the movements made in writing. Older children use the “Moveable Alphabet” to put those sounds together into words and sentences. Five and six-year-olds in our Children’s House typically write beautiful true “stories,” illustrated in color pencil.

This approach breaks down language learning into clear component skills, so that children can grow confident with each step before moving on to the next.

Geography and culture lessons in the Montessori classroom offer the inspiration for a child’s future study of history and science. Children’s early experiments with physical properties, land and water forms, natural objects, gardening, sorting, parts of animals, and parts of plants inspire them to fall in love with the scientific world. A child’s work with puzzle maps, flags, cultural items, and beautiful cultural photographs to compare and categorize introduce him to varied geographies and cultures, and represent the first steps on a path that will later lead to the study of history.

Students in primary learn the basis for scientific and historical thinking from the bottom up, by direct exposure to the foundations of these subjects in a form that they can understand. Even at a young age, Montessori children feel at home in the natural world, having fostered their ability to observe, their vocabulary, and their explanatory understanding of many natural domains. And they are deeply curious about history, having a sense of where both natural and man-made things originated—naturally giving them a deep and authentic appreciation and gratitude for the things and people around them.

Montessori environments are designed for the development of the whole child including physical growth as well. In the course of working with materials, children enhance their gross motor skills via carrying materials to their work area, lifting chairs & tables, rolling, unrolling mats etc.

In addition to that, children engage in meaningful and challenging physical activities like walking on a balance beam and on a line, rolling on a mat. Outdoor recess might skipping, obstacle courses and throwing balls.

Education for life

If you think Rhyme and Reason Academy would be a good fit for you and your family, then let’s start a conversation!