Primary Programs

“The child, making use of all that he finds around him, shapes himself for the future.” – Maria Montessori

Our primary classes are called “Children’s House” in the classroom’s immersion language: Er Tong Zhi Jia in Mandarin, La Maison des Enfants in French, and La Casa de los Niños in Spanish. Maria Montessori called her classroom la casa dei bambini in Italian to signify that the classroom should be for the child.

Primary classrooms are for children ages three through six years old. While the school year begins with a mixture of English and the immersion language as students adapt to their environment, the immersion language quickly becomes the language of instruction. Students effortlessly build their receptive language skills as they interact with the teachers and their peers.

Montessori classrooms allow children of multiple ages to work together in the same class. Multi-age classrooms encourage younger students to learn from older students and provide older students the chance to serve as knowledgeable leaders. Children learn at their own pace though individual work, encouraging authentic cooperation that mimics the real world.

Each curricular focus corresponds to an area of the classroom where students find carefully prepared work they can choose from:

Practical Life

In a Montessori classroom we prepare the environment so the child can “self-construct” and, thus, work towards all the goals of the practical life curriculum which are: coordination, concentration, sense of order, self-confidence, and independence. The activities in this area range from meeting the practical skills for three year olds, such as pouring liquids, to the twenty-five step table washing work for six year olds. The practical life area of the classroom is the foundation of all other academic areas of the classroom since the goals contribute to building both strong learning habits and positive self-image.


The sensorial curriculum particular to the Montessori classroom is rooted in the educational theory that the five senses play a fundamental role in the learning process and the organization of information received. The developmental aims of this area are: observation, comparison, differentiation, reasoning, decision making, problem-solving, appreciation of beauty and harmony, and full participation in our complex and diverse world. The sensorial curriculum is the foundation for mathematics and geometry because it allows children to practice sequences and gradations as well as three-dimensional spatial learning.


Montessori takes advantage of children’s natural mathematical minds which already understand concepts of ‘more than and less than,’ have a clear developing sense of symbolic logic, and can grasp abstract concepts with concrete manipulatives at the young age of three and four. The math curriculum in a Primary classroom introduces children to numeration, place value, basic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division in multiple digits, and the association between three dimensional and plane figures in geometry. The mathematics area of the classroom is one of the most obvious places where we see one of the major benefits of the multiage classroom; the large math works of older peers inspire the younger ones to work.


All Montessori classrooms are literacy-based environments which promote early reading and rich vocabularies due to the numerous, concrete activities practiced in an interactive context. In our Montessori immersion classrooms, this development occurs in the target language for sound discrimination, symbol/character recognition, and phonetic reading. It is typical for four and a half year olds in Montessori classrooms to take keen interest in deciphering written material and to begin to build small words with the moveable alphabet. Our immersion environments focus on developing oral comprehension and productive speech first, and then we use this knowledge base to follow the child’s interest and develop their writing and reading skills. Children transfer their skills in reading and writing to English when their begin formal English instruction in their first year of the Elementary program after they have established a basic level of literacy in the target language.


The Montessori Primary classroom has several distinct areas of science – earth science, botany, and zoology – which include hands on projects, experiments, and learning to observe and record. Small children have a natural sense of wonder and order. They demonstrate these tendencies by their interests in classifying, comparing, and exploring the natural world with their senses. Given these interests, teachers focus on nomenclature, on classification, on definitions, and finally on the importance of observation. Over the three year period, Primary Montessori students are introduced to a variety of scientific concepts related to the life cycle of seeds and plants, types of trees and flowers, the five kingdoms, and the planet Earth: its place in the solar system, its surface, its care, its elements, its weather.


While geography is a defined area within the classroom, science and geography are often closely linked and called “cultural studies” in both the Primary and Lower Elementary Montessori classrooms. Geography can be focused towards political geography which includes the many puzzle maps (of the continents, countries and cities) and flags. Or geography can be focused more towards cultural traits of a geographic location that includes the population, the language, the food, the animals, the climate, etc. of that specific area. In all Primary Montessori classrooms, we begin the study of geography with the earth as a whole: the globe and the corresponding world maps of land and oceans. These educational materials underscore the Montessori philosophy about the importance of situating oneself in relation to the world. This concept begins already at a young age as we establish the mindset of being world citizen and that we are all part of one common human race who are keepers of the Earth and of each other.


The Primary Montessori classroom encourages and makes accessible to children many opportunities to express creativity using various tools and techniques available on the art shelf. This frequently changing area of the classroom has a variety of activities that promote both two-dimensional and three- dimensional artistic expression. Typically, the art shelf reflects themes of the classroom or seasons of the year. Most importantly, as the year advances and the children acquire more skills of independence and fine motor skills, the art works get more diversified and more complicated. This area offers a place for children to practice problem solving skills, sequential thinking, and project-based activities.

Program Options

Immersion Languages

  • French (ages 3-6)
  • Spanish (ages 3-6)
  • Mandarin Chinese (ages 3-6)

Length of Day

  • Morning Drop of Window: 7:45-8:25
  • Half Day: 8:30-12:00 (available for 3 and 4-year-olds only)
  • Regular Day: 8:30-3:00
  • After School: 3:00-5:30

International Montessori School only offers five-day programs.

What Our Parents Say

Our son joined la Casa 1 in 2011. Our experience at IMS has been great! We primarily joined the school for the Spanish language immersion but we were delighted to see how our boy thrived in the Montessori system. He amazes our friends and us when he has conversations about the birds of North Carolina, the planets of the solar system and how without prompting he offers to write the names of his little friends and he spells them correctly. He is only 4!! This is the great job of his dedicated and creative teachers at IMS.