“And so we discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being.”
The Montessori Classroom, is divided into sevearal key areas: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math and areas for art, music, geography and science, based on the research and findings of Dr. Maria Montessori. The Montessori Method is an integrated thematic approach that ties the separate disciplines together into studies of the physical universe, the world of nature, and the human experience. In this way, one lesson leads to many others.
Each lesson isolates one concept or skill that has been specially designed in a way that children are naturally drawn to become absorbed in a lesson with little or no nudging from adults. Each material has also been designed so that a child can normally check his own work; we call this “control of error.” The intention of the materials is not to keep the children dependent on these artificial learning aids forever; they are used as tools to help children work and learn at their own pace, to see abstract ideas presented in a very concrete, three-dimensional way, and to help them grasp and understand what they are working on.
Montessori students learn not to be afraid of making mistakes. They quickly find that few things in life come easily, and they can try again without fear of embarrassment
This area of the curriculum is designed to invite the young learner to act and work on real life tasks (spooning, tonging, sweeping, etc.) that foster independence, coordination, order and concentration. It is in a sense the doorway to the Montessori curriculum. This is the area where the child may first choose independent work. The practical life area contains many attractively displayed objects, familiar to the child, including a variety of items commonly used in the tasks of daily living, like eating, dressing and cleaning.
They offer the child meaningful, non-threatening modes of activity. The materials are also carefully demonstrated to help teach skills involved with caring for the environment and the self, to encourage responsibility, autonomy and to promote high self-esteem. It is in this area that our Community Guidelines and ground rules set the framework for classroom discipline.
Dr. Montessori saw the senses as the “keys to the universe.” She considered sensory and manipulation not only an aid to the development of maturing sense organs (eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin) but a starting point for the intellectual growth. She believed that by helping children to order, compare and classify sensory stimulation, their intellectual development would be greatly assisted and future learning would be more meaningful and useful. The basic sensorial exercise inspires careful observation and calls attention to specific qualities requiring identification of similarities and contrasts. The mind must judge, compare, classify and draw conclusions. These exercises tend to fascinate children because they are difficult enough to represent a real and meaningful challenge. They are then better prepared for future learning in math, language, and science and making sense of life’s experiences and information in general.
The central purpose of the Math materials in the early years is to lay the foundation for later cognitive development and to prepare for the gradual transition to abstract thinking. The primary value of these early activities in mathematics are found in the way they transform ideas into actions on concrete materials. Students who learn math by rote method often have not real understanding or ability to put their skills to use in everyday life. Montessori students use hands-on learning materials that make abstract concepts clear and concrete.
Language development is a concern of the entire Montessori classroom. Many activities in other areas foster vocabulary development, communication skills, writing and reading readiness.
In the language area we will find a large variety of reading readiness materials, including materials for phonetic analysis, word attack skills and reading, as well as materials for the refinement of motor control for writing.
In the Montessori Method, writing precedes reading, as the children explore with drawing and forming letters. The process of learning how to read should be as painless and simple as learning how to speak. The child begins by exploring the sounds that compose words and by relating them to the letters of the alphabet. He can soon produce words and sentences free of all other mechanical difficulties. In the meantime he trains his hand to become precise and sure for the writing movements. Reading is prepared indirectly from writing. The child starts from what he knows about the letters and the sounds. Then we give him the key to read all the words he can encounter. Reading skills normally develop so smoothly in Montessori classrooms that students tend to exhibit a sudden “reading explosion” which leaves the children and their families beaming with pride.
Dr. Montessori’s research confirmed what observant parents have always known: children learn best by touch and manipulation, not by repeating what they are told.
These areas are an integral element of the Montessori curriculum. Among other things, they represent a way of life: a clear thinking approach to gathering information and problem solving. The scope of the Cultural Subjects curriculum includes a sound introduction to botany, zoology, chemistry, physics, geology and astronomy which cultivates the child’s fascination with the universe and helps them develop a lifelong interest in observing nature and discovering more about the world in which we live.
Children will be introduced to history and geography as early as age 18 months, through books, songs and manipulatives. As the student begins to master skills they will be introduced to specially designed maps and begin to learn the names of the world’s continents and countries. Later the students begin to see the world’s cultures in greater depth. They will learn to treasure the richness of their own cultural heritage and those of their friends.
Music and movement education are also important parts of the curriculum, as well as, the Arts. They offer children ways to express themselves, their feelings, experiences and ideas.