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Early Childhood: The First Plane of Development

Pre-primary: Ages 2-3


The “absorbent mind” is blossoming at this stage of development. Until age three, children learn by what Maria Montessori referred to as an “unconscious mind,” which they use to develop themselves effortlessly and without awareness of doing so. They are driven by an intense desire to “do it myself.” In response, the classroom is prepared so that the children can function as independently as possible. Pre-primary children are at the peak of their sensitivity to order and language acquisition. Socializing with peers is primarily through playing individually, side by side with their peers

Practical Life

Practical Life activities provide a link between the home and school environments and develop everyday life skills. Many of the activities at this level help to develop the child’s independence, such as toileting, dressing, and preparing a snack. Others help develop social skills, such as saying “please” and “thank you.” Practical life activities provide opportunities for fine and gross motor development, lengthening of the attention span, and development of organizational skills.


The children are experiencing a burst of language development and are especially open to absorbing new vocabulary given to them. As they explore the world around them, they learn the names, labels, and meanings of the objects in their environment, giving them relevancy.

Activities to develop visual discrimination abound at this level. When they are ready, the children are introduced to beginning letter sounds, letter recognition, opposites, sequencing, and storytelling.

Much of their spoken language development occurs through social interactions with both peers and adults. Through grace and courtesy lessons, the children learn to express their feelings and properly interact with one another. Language development is enriched through songs and finger plays. The adults in the environment speak to the children with respect and in complete sentences to be a model for proper language usage.


The use of concrete materials in math allows the child to experience the concepts of size, shape, and quantity. One-to-one correspondence, simple pattern work, numeral symbols, quantity, and geometric shapes are introduced in the classroom. Activities include peg work, puzzles, counting materials, use of the long number rods, and lessons with the sandpaper numerals. Counting and numeral recognition are also reinforced during large group activities, such as during circle time.

Cultural Studies

The outdoor environment introduces children to the world of nature. We seek to encourage a sense of wonder as children observe their natural environment, from the tiniest flower to an emerging butterfly.

In the classroom, the children are introduced to caring for their garden and class pets as an initial exposure to the needs of other living things. In addition, they are also introduced to sensorial concepts that will be developed in future years.

Children learn about community helpers through visits from the local fire department and the sheriff’s office. They learn that they are in Safety Harbor, in the state of Florida, in the United States of America, and they learn about other countries and cultures by preparing for and attending our annual International Spring Festival.


There are many outlets for creative expression within daily work cycles and planned group exercises. Children are guided through group lessons using songs, finger plays, instruments and rhythm activities. Not only do these exercises aid in the development of fine and gross motor skills, visual perception, and auditory processing skills, but they also help develop self-confidence and an appreciation for music.


Masterpieces are displayed through out the classroom to introduce the children to art appreciation. These artworks and their creators connect with the cultural lessons being taught throughout the year, and are used to introduce the language of art to the children.

The children are exposed to art exploration with multiple mediums and tools. They are encouraged to create with paint and brushes of varying sizes, clay, glue, crayons, markers, scissors, and much more!



We believe young children need to work with concrete objects, and that most young children are exposed to an excessive amount of “screen time” through television, smart phones, tablets, and computers. For this reason, we minimize the use of screen-based technology until first grade.

Physical Education

Children explore what their bodies can do through creative play, movement to music, and obstacle courses. They are introduced to locomotor activities such as hopping and jumping and manipulative skills such as throwing and rolling. They also follow simple directions. Daily outdoor playtime allows the children to develop their muscles and coordination through climbing, swinging, sliding, running, and learning to ride a tricycle and scooter.



Children at this level effortlessly absorb the Spanish language lessons through songs, simple conversation, and concrete object lessons given twice a week in the classroom. The children learn the building blocks of the Spanish language such as colors, numbers, days of the week, and basic vocabulary.


The media specialist comes to the classroom twice a week with story books that support the lessons being focused on in the classroom. The children learn proper care of books, sequencing and to love literature!

Safety Harbor Montessori Academy Curriculum Guide
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