We embrace the concept of the “whole child.”
Students are immersed in an atmosphere that enhances their physical and socioemotional as well as their academic needs. Senses of independence, curiosity, empathy, and confidence are fostered both in the classroom and the outdoor work and play environments.
The Primary Program is a three-year Montessori cycle, and there is an expectation that enrollment in this program is a three-year commitment. The three-year cycle allows for each child to experience the newness of their first year with older peers to help guide their transition. At Athena, first-year students are paired with a “Big Buddy", a third-year student who has waited for their turn to guide and mentor their “Little Buddy” for two years. The older children have the opportunity to be role models of appropriate behavior and reinforce their skills by helping the younger children who are new to the class—they give basic lessons and assist with tasks such as helping with lunch, potty, or hanging a coat; holding hands in line; and making sure their buddy has a playmate on the playground, just to name a few. Research shows that mixed-age grouping provides many benefits for younger children and older children alike—especially in the areas of social and emotional development.
If the child will turn five years old by September 1st of their third year of the cycle, the child will be officially a Kindergartner, and in addition to the regular academic Montessori customized curriculum, the child will also receive our proprietary Kindergarten Curriculum, participate in the Kindergarten Science Club, and will graduate prepared to enter first grade. If the child does not turn five by September 1st of the third year of the cycle, the child will be considered an “older” or a “third year”, or “leader”, will receive their academic Montessori customized curriculum, and will graduate prepared to enter Kindergarten. Some exceptions may be made depending on the child’s birthday and where the child will go after Athena, in which case we will be in conversation with you as to our recommendations as to how we can best prepare them for the next step.
As Athena students enter the sensitive periods for various concepts, our classrooms offer prepared environments and individual instruction to fill their needs. Dr. Maria Montessori believed that each child, from birth through ages six or seven, moves through a series (sometimes overlapping) of “sensitive periods” in which they are capable of absorbing seemingly difficult stimuli simply and organically. These periods involve readiness for subjects ranging from language acquisition and an understanding of numerals to learning skills in grace, courtesy, and conflict resolution. Once a child has left one of these periods behind, it becomes much more difficult to learn some of these concepts (foreign language is a prime example). In order to fully embrace these sensitive periods, a child must be immersed in an environment where the materials and guidance meet their needs. Our Primary classrooms are mindfully prepared with both Montessori materials and other artistic and educational materials so children can acquire these skills in a comfortable, natural, beautiful, and engaging setting.
The Primary guides record the lessons given to the children in all areas of the curriculum as well as track their socioemotional progress and goals. The guides share and discuss this information with parents during parent conferences at least twice a year.