This small group of around fourteen children, is managed by a teacher and an assistant of different language backgrounds (Tania, Anglophone and Lola, Francophone). The community allows children to discover and assimilate society’s rules, to find their own identity and to flourish in a group setting.
Children’s personalities develop thanks to their free choice of activity and privileged relationship with an adult. They choose the learning activities which best suit their interests and capacities, and once presented to them individually by an adult are free to use and manipulate them, to learn.
The activities are conceived and chosen to respond to the developmental needs of children of this age:
- Attention and concentration: giving the children the self-confidence to complete the tasks they choose. Adults accompany the children, and don’t complete tasks for them.
- Order: a coherent and stable environment allows children to develop their activity autonomously.
- Movement and activity: the activity permits the child to test its strength and perseverance, and to make great efforts (walking, climbing, moving sizable objects, etc.).
- Children want to be part of everyday life and find satisfaction, joy, or pride when an adult allows them to take part in their tasks.
The three year old arriving at the Maison des Enfants, does so as an individual, capable of expressing themselves in terms of « Me, I ». From now on the child will build their capacity to live as a social being, the member of a group.
Maria Montessori describes the child of six as a « social newborn ».Social development is of course supported by the age mix that the Maison des Enfants offers, and which permits children to experience and try out the depth, the nuances and the diversity of human relations. Nevertheless, social development at the Maison des Enfants arises first of all from individual activity. Children must become comfortable as individuals, develop self-confidence, self-esteem and autonomy in order to one day put all of their internal strengths towards the service of the group.
The method of achieving this is through activity and having a definite goal, which can be repeated and which thus allows the child to find the path to concentration, route to the construction of the child.
The child evolves in a clearly prepared and structured environment, in which they find activities which permit them to refine their movement, their sensory perception, their language, their ability to adapt culturally, and their capacity to evolve in a group and all that at their own rhythm.
All of these dimensions serve to build intelligence and aid the emergence of a clear conscious idea of who they are, what they know, what they can do, and of their relationship with the world.
This evolution takes place over the course of three years. Each day the child has long time slots during which they are progressively able to choose more activities and thanks to the development of their will power, commit to them and learn from them.
Over time, children become members of a small society. They have a strong sense of justice and build their moral conscience. They seek to develop their moral understanding and want to exercise their own moral judgments.
They possess a greater power of abstraction and reasoning; they seek the relationships between causes and effects. They are interested in and want to understand everything. The dominant spirit is no longer the absorbant but the exploratory. Their interests have no limits and lead them into every cultural domain.
Objectives of the primary class: this period is the most sensitive age for the imagination. The most important thing is no longer what the child can perceive via the senses, but what lies beyond, that which can only be grasped by the imagination.
The child’s universe is bigger than the classroom walls. Their tendencies lead them more towards group activities. This is a period during which a child can gain a solid grounding in all of the disciplines.
The primary class’s mission is to guide the child towards « self-education » through a discovery of the world, which is what Maria Montessori calls “cosmic education”.