What Is Montessori
Montessori is an educational foundation based on the scientific method of observing a child and responding with a prepared environment ready for their exploration and academic pursuit. Lessons are designed and presented based on a solid curriculum created by Maria Montessori and the individual learning needs of each child in the classroom.
Based on her observations, Doctor Maria Montessori believed that the critical period of learning for children was from birth to five years of age. Today, scientific research has confirmed that 90 percent of a child’s brain is developed by 5 years old. This is why choosing the right environment for your preschooler should be done with mindful consideration.
With that in mind, a Montessori classroom is unlike a typical preschool program. It is a multi-age group of 2.5-6 year olds where younger children are inspired by older classmates and older classmates encourage and teach the younger students. This unique dynamic fosters positive social skills as the different groups share new abilities, encourage each other’s efforts, and develop empathy and leadership skills.
Dr. Montessori also saw children as very capable individuals with absorbent minds learning through active work and observing. Children learn at their individual pace while independently choosing their work activities. However, this does not mean a free-for-all environment, but rather, it is freedom within boundaries.
The Montessori curriculum emphasises movement and respect for self and others. Children are free to move about the classroom all day, developing fine-motor and gross-motor skills through learning to control their movement gracefully so as not to disturb their classmates. With freedom of movement, the child is able to self-monitor their actions, experiencing immediately how their behavior directly impacts others who share the classroom.
The goals of a Montessori education are to foster independence, respect for self and others and to encourage children’s natural curiosity and love of learning. The teachers prepare the classrooms to support the development of the whole child into a responsible and engaged global citizen. Under the age of six years old, the Montessori classroom has five distinct and interconnected areas:
PRACTICAL LIFE – These are the basic life skills setting the foundation for all other areas of development. Lessons are prepared to promote coordination, inspire a child’s sense of order and deepen concentration while fostering independence.
Using familiar materials found in their home life, children develop the strong eye-hand coordination essential for reading and writing, social skills and necessary self-confidence to encourage exploration and learning in all curriculum areas.
SENSORIAL – These activities isolate the senses and encourage children to use the five senses to understand the world around them. This area develops a child’s classification and discrimination skills. These skills take the child from concrete forms to abstract concepts, preparing the child for reading, writing and math.
LANGUAGE – In a Montessori classroom, writing comes before reading and it is taught through a highly sensorial sequence. Phonetic sounds are used instead of letter names and lower-case letters are used until the child is ready for handwriting. In the third year, children typically can read fluently and are well on their way to mastering writing.
MATHEMATICS – Children in a Montessori classroom are exposed to a hands-on approach to number concepts and operations, quantity and symbol recognition, decimal system, fractions, skip counting, and geometry. Through concrete materials, the child will have a very firm understanding of each area before they work toward abstract ideas and complex equations.
CULTURE, SCIENCE & GEOGRAPHY – Our prepared environments reflect the culture of our community and its village members. The culture, science and geography curriculums each seek to support a child’s budding interest in the world around them while connecting them to a view of the world that supports their global citizenship.
By absorbing the world around them through their senses, the child has a foundation for broader acceptance and appreciation for the cultural identities of other members of their village, community and the world. Children are introduced to geography and science through the study of world maps, solar systems, planets, oceans and through the biomes of our earth.