Washington Montessori School
New Preston, Connecticut
Explore the nurturing environment and innovative curriculum at our Lower School program.
A 3-year program for 3- to 6-year-olds students, our Lower School encourages children to find joy in work and learning as a foundation for mastering essential lifelong skills, habits and attitudes — both academic and practical. Developmentally, children this age have an intense desire for physical independence and thrive on opportunities to assert it.
Lower School classrooms are specially designed for the children who use them — chairs, tables, and shelves are sized proportionately, allowing students the freedom to explore the environment. The classrooms also feature tactile and visually-appealing materials that naturally engage children in learning, which cultivates internal motivation and self-esteem. Each Lower School class operates as a community, which helps children learn the art of living in a world beyond home. The continuity of the three-year cycle allows students to experience different roles, responsibilities and perspectives.
Lower School Program Goals
We nurture the innate curiosity of children.
We encourage children to find joy in their work, discoveries, and learning.
We build foundations for learning language, math, and other academic skills.
We guide children in building positive relationships with peers and adults.
We create a peaceful, safe environment for learning and socializing.
We engender a sense of community in the classroom, school and beyond.
Lower School School Day
The LS school day is designed to cultivate independence in our 3- to 6-year old students as well as to foster their role as members of a community. The morning includes an uninterrupted work cycle — a fundamental aspect of Montessori education — which allows students the freedom to move about the prepared classroom environments, to interact with peers and to discover and choose work that interests them. Teachers spend this time carefully observing students, assessing their needs and gauging their readiness for new lessons and materials. There is time for individual or small-group lessons as well as time for class discussions and community meetings, fostering an atmosphere of mutual respect and cooperation, helping children learn the art of living in a world beyond home.
In order to best suit the needs of our students and their families, Lower School enrollment options include a choice between half days (8:45 to 11:45 AM) and full days (8:45 AM—3 PM). A variety of Extended Day options are also available for LS students before and after the regular school day to accommodate our families’ various childcare needs.
Regular School Day
Drop-Off at 8:45 AM
The LS school day begins each morning at 8:45 a.m. with the teacher welcoming each student into the classroom. Students say their goodbyes at the door, enter on their own, and take care of their belongings—from taking off and hanging coats to putting away lunch boxes. It is our tradition to welcome LS students who have older siblings at WMS into the classroom at 8:30 a.m.
Uninterrupted Work Cycle
Once their things are put away, LS students enjoy the opportunity to explore the classroom and choose work that interests them. Students also spend this time engaging in one-on-one or small group lessons with the teacher.
All Lower School classes enjoy recess together outside on the Lower School playground as long as the weather is suitable.
Half Day Dismissal at 11:45 AM
After recess, half-day children are dismissed from their classroom door following the same procedures as at drop-off — gathering their things independently before joining their parents/caregivers in the hall.
Wednesdays are always half-days for Lower School students, but there is an extended day option (WRAP) available as an alternative.
On full days, Lower School students begin preparing for lunch around noon. Lower School classes enjoy lunch in their classrooms. Half-day students are also always welcome to stay for lunchtime and have a 12:30 p.m. dismissal.
Afternoon Work & Specials
After lunch, Lower School students have another work cycle as well as specials in music and physical education.
Full Day Dismissal at 3 PM
Full-day Lower School students are dismissed from their classroom door at 3 p.m. following the same procedures as at drop-off.
Extended Day Options
Morning Care 7:45—8:45 AM
Once LS students have completed their phase-in cycle and are comfortable with their transition to school, they may be enrolled in Morning Care, which is available Mondays through Fridays regularly and on an as-needed basis if there is space.
After Care 3—5 PM
Once LS students have completed their phase-in cycle, they may be enrolled in After Care, which is available Mondays through Fridays regularly and on an as-needed basis (if there is space).
Enrichment Offerings 3—5 PM
A variety of enrichment courses are offered throughout the year for Lower School students. Enrichment fees vary.
Fill out a form and Laura Martin, Assistant Head for Enrollment will be in touch.
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Lower School Signature Experiences
The Outdoor Classroom is a natural extension of our Lower School program where Sensorial and Practical Life skills are considered the foundation for academic success. The Outdoor Classroom is a prepared environment — similar to the indoor classrooms — with a variety of works rich in discovery and interest from which to choose. Activities address the specific developmental needs of Lower School students — gross and fine motor refinement, and creative expression and language development, to name a few. Students may tend to the Outdoor Classroom’s flowers, vegetables and herbs, or they may choose to work the water pump and watch the water spill down the sluice and into the sand. They may take turns jumping rope, or they may “paint” the patio with rollers soaked in water. See pictures from the Lower School Outdoor Classroom.
Promoting fellowship and responsibility among a wider range of ages, the Partner Class Program is a long-standing tradition at WMS that enhances the benefits of mixed-age classrooms. The program pairs Lower School classes with Upper Elementary classes and Lower Elementary classes with Middle School classes. The Partner Class program helps establish a sense of community among the different ages of students.
Community Meetings provide valuable practice for becoming responsible, respectful and resourceful members of a community. Taking place in classrooms Lower School and up, Community Meetings help students of all ages recognize and respect differing perspectives, develop the ability to work through problems, and to realize their own significance within a community.
Lower School Special Class
Giving students a well-rounded education beginning at an early age is an important part of the WMS program. At Washington Montessori School, students as young as Lower School participate in a variety of specials classes. While our classrooms invite opportunity for music and gross motor movement on a daily basis, we believe that the opportunity to explore these areas in greater depth with dedicated faculty enhances children’s experiences.
LS students attend a music class once a week for 30 minutes. They practice singing, play instruments, and learn a variety of group folk dances from different cultures. Once a week, Lower School classes come together for Sing Along, which is an informal introduction to chorus.
All Lower School students have Physical Education class once a week. There is an additional PE class held in the afternoon for full-day kindergarten students. Children learn how to play games that help build their gross motor skills, coordination, speed, and endurance. They also learn to play cooperatively, practice good sportsmanship and grow their self-confidence.
The goal at the Lower School level is for Spanish to be incorporated into the students’ everyday life. Our Spanish teacher spends a full morning in each Lower School classroom speaking to and interacting with the children in Spanish.