The Primary Environment is specifically designed keeping in mind the sensory development and the increasing need to become independent in children between the ages 2 ½ to 6 ½ years. Materials and activities are designed to support self-directed discovery and learning. Real-life activities support independence. Manipulation of materials provides concrete sensorial experience. Open-ended exploration leads to the refinement of movements, sensory perceptions, language and the development of intellect. Children are provided opportunities to follow their own interest, freely choose their own activities, develop their capacity for concentration and engage at their own pace their emerging powers of reason, imagination, and sociability.
Areas of focus are Practical Life Skills, Sensorial Experiences, Language, Mathematics and Culture.
Practical Life Skills
This area develops both independence and social skills and forms the foundation for all other work in the classroom. These activities link the home environment to the school environment and develop everyday life skills through real and purposeful work. The lessons are designed to refine fine motor skills, help gain greater control over movements, foster a sense of order and build concentration. These further aid in the development of logical thought, ability to sequence and explore spatial relationships and promote cultural awareness and adaptation. These indirectly prepare children for later exercises in reading and writing.
Math is initially learned indirectly through one to one correspondence activities. The concepts are presented first through concrete materials that allow for hands-on exploration. The goals of the math curriculum are quite extensive, beginning with an understanding of quantity and symbol, progressing to place value and experiences with the four basic operations of mathematics. When children demonstrate a concrete understanding of these concepts, they are ready to move on to the more advanced exercises in memorization and abstraction.
This area reflects upon the understanding of Geography, History, Biology, other sciences, music and the arts. Concepts are introduced indirectly through the daily routines, activities, singing songs, stories, reading books and celebrating festivals. The goals are to offer concrete exploration to help classify the child’s understanding of his world.
Sensorial activities refine sensory perception. The sensorial materials help develop a child’s hand-eye coordination, fine/large motor skills, spatial awareness, object permanence and classification skills. Sensorial exercises include exploration and classification which deepen a child’s understanding of his world. Many of the sensorial materials lay a foundation for later work in Geometry, which is presented at the 6-12, level.
Language is found in all areas of the environment and it aids independence by helping children to express their needs and have their thoughts understood. Language curriculum is designed to enrich a child’s vocabulary and bring awareness of the structure of language. It supports a child’s development in three aspects: spoken, written and reading. Spoken language curriculum helps the child perfect his ability to understand, follow directions and communicate with others. Written language curriculum goals are to develop a child’s ability to analyze sounds, recall their associated symbol and create words. Cursive letters are presented to students. The initial emphasis is on the sounds of the letters. The names of the letters and the alphabetical order are presented much later. The reading curriculum helps the child to use a combination of sounds and sight words to read and find meaning and context through deciphering words, sentences and eventually short stories. Tamil and Hindi are also presented through informal, everyday language, books and songs. Small group lessons are offered spontaneously.