The Primary Experience
Every school day, they file down the hallway - an adorable parade of three- to six-year-olds making their way to Omni's Primary classrooms. Some might wear a shirt buttoned out of order or holiday socks in August. At Omni, these choices are greeted with smiles. For it is more important that young students know the joy of accomplishing a task, like dressing, on their own than to have it done "properly" for them.
After the students place belongings in their cubbies, a teacher shakes hands and "good mornings" are exchanged, oftentimes in Spanish. The children then become part of an authentic Montessori classroom — a child-centered learning environment where materials have been thoughtfully and meticulously designed for students in what Maria Montessori termed the first plane of development.
Guides provide lessons to individual students and to small groups, and are available to assist and guide. Older children often help smaller ones, which develops social skills and mentoring relationships. Because children learn more working at their own pace, they are free to choose materials and "works" to complete. Montessori materials are appropriately sized, and designed to appeal to the young child's innate sensory desires to see, touch, smell, and hear.
Parents of Primary students soon become familiar with the sometimes exotic-sounding names of classroom lessons and materials, which were designed by Maria Montessori and continue to be used today. Parents also become accustomed to hearing classroom activities described as "work" — a term used not to connote drudgery or chores, but to give value to the children's undertakings and accomplishments.
The Primary School Day
Omni's three year Primary program serves students ages three through six. In the mornings, children work in the classroom and garden, prepare and share snack, and work on their chosen lessons. The morning concludes with outdoor playtime on our Primary playground. Around age five, students transition to the Extended-Day program. Children in the extended day program return to their classroom after playtime for lunch. The afternoon is filled with individual work, as well as more dynamic small group lessons and games.
The Children’s Nest
For our youngest students, who are not quite ready for the extended day of work in the classroom, but whose parents would like them to stay at Omni until 3:00 pm, we offer our Children’s Nest. Children who participate in the Children’s Nest join their older peers for lunch in the classroom after playtime. Following lunch clean up, they transition to a dedicated nap/rest space for approximately an hour and half. At the conclusion of the rest period, our Children’s Nest cohort rejoins their older classmates for the remainder of the afternoon work time until dismissal at 3:00 pm.