What is Third-Year Primary?

This program is a unique opportunity for students to develop not only academically, but also their
confidence and leadership skills before they enter Kindergarten or 1st grade. They will leave with a solid academic foundation as well as the confidence and love of learning that will carry them through for the duration of their academic career.

The third year in Primary is the culmination of all that has occurred before. For example, children who worked on letter sounds, listening to sounds in words, and composing words will go on to composing sentences and then paragraphs, and reading books.

We truly believe that this model is in the best interest of the students because many public schools use Kindergarten as an acclimation/normalization year where students learn the basics of how to function in a school environment. Our students have already mastered all these skills, so staying a third year in Primary with the teachers who have successfully guided them this far, allows them to continue to progress, and strengthen their love of learning.

  • Kindergarten is not the start of schooling for children who have attended our school. By five, most Suzuki students will begin to read, and many will be introduced to multiplication and division—far in advance of their peer group from other settings.
  • The children continue building on what they learned. The third (or Kindergarten) year is the time when many of the earlier lessons come together and become a permanent part of the young child’s understanding.
  • As the oldest child in the classroom, the student can reinforce his or her skills by teaching younger students. Research has proven that this strengthens their learning and confidence.
  • Your child is in a familiar setting. His or her teachers know her learning style and progression very well.
  • Your child will continue to progress at his or her own pace. In a traditional Kindergarten, they will have to wait while the other children begin to catch up.

Why Third-Year Primary?

NOBLE HEART REINFORCED THROUGH THE PEACE CURRICULUM: Dr. Suzuki developed the concept of the Noble Heart – teaching children to honor each other and themselves. Maria Montessori also recognized the importance of the Noble Heart and wrote a book about the importance of peace for children. These works have been incorporated into the Third-Year Primary program at this developmentally appropriate time. As the children prepare for their transition into both public and private school settings, the students become well equipped to address their next school experience through the daily lessons from the Montessori Curriculum which develop problem-solving, conflict resolution, and effective communication skills

ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT: The focus of the Third-Year Primary year continues to be the development of the “whole child” – balancing proficiency in the areas of cognitive ability, social-emotional skills, and physical coordination.

Most importantly, the children flourish in their next school environment, and when they have begun the program in early infancy or toddlerhood, the foundation that was laid in those early years is refined in this year and becomes exceptionally strong.

This program is a culmination of everything explored, accomplished, and experienced in the children’s first five years of life. It is a year to prepare our families for their life beyond the Suzuki School. As the students’ perspective widens and they adjust their focus outwardly into the world, the children gain confidence and continue to love learning for all that it offers them.

PROJECT-BASED WORK: An important skill for Third Year Primary children is learning to work with each other on collective efforts. Throughout the year, the students work together on a variety of projects, primarily in the afternoons. A major collaborative effort for the children is to finish the school year with a group project that coincides with the school’s various fundraisers. This project, completely designed and executed by the students, reinforces the Suzuki concept of the Noble Heart by giving to local children in need. Projects can include making collaborative art pieces or decorated furniture, designing and hosting a bake sale, making a group quilt, etc.

SUZUKI KINDERGARTEN BEGINNINGS ARE ROOTED IN OUR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, CREATED IN 1976: The Suzuki Kindergarten is a treasure unique among Atlanta’s early childhood schools and has prepared our families for the “next step” for more than 35 years. The program began as a Kindergarten/First Grade classroom in the original school house on Andrews Drive in 1978 shortly after the Suzuki School was founded. Landora Schermerhorn, one of the program’s first conceptualizers, launched and led the Kindergarten classroom for over 20 years, capitalizing on her wealth of knowledge and an her exceptional ability to teach young children to look beyond their classroom walls.

Several of the school’s administrators were themselves trained by Landora and have continued her vision, forged in the school’s formative years. When the school incorporated the Montessori system of education into our approach, we choose to preserve the core of our Kindergarten program because it was so beloved and so valued by Suzuki families. Today, the Kindergarten students interact at certain times with younger students in shared activities and so enjoy the benefits of the Montessori environment.

The legacy created those many years ago are primarily interwoven today into the Montessori fabric of the Kindergarten social studies program and in our expectations for the child as he learns to look outward and share, resolve conflict fairly and peacefully, consider the perspective of others, complete tasks responsibly, and respect those with whom he lives.

PLACEMENT INTO KINDERGARTEN: Placement in Third-Year Primary is determined by several factors, including the number of students accepted each year into independent schools, a child’s birth date and readiness, and the parents’ plans for sending their child to independent versus public schools. Many independent schools view children with late spring or summer birthdays as too young for programs designed for children of that age.

Almost all of the children attending the program were enrolled in the school’s earlier programs - the Infant, Pre-Primary or Primary classrooms – so there is limited capacity in our ability to accept students directly into the program.

The legacy created those many years ago are primarily interwoven today into the Montessori fabric of the social studies program and in our expectations for the child as he learns to look outward and share, resolve conflict fairly and peacefully, consider the perspective of others, complete tasks responsibly, and respect those with whom he lives.

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