Montessori Method might be defined as "education by means of liberty in a prepared environment". It is unique and different from all others. It is based on a sensible balance between freedom and structure specifically designed for the young child; it provides a pleasant environmentwith carefully devised materials that meet the child’s natural needs. The Montessori system has three main parts:thechild,the environmentand the directress (teacher). In the process of teaching it is important:
- Preparing the most natural and life supporting environment for the child
- Observing the child living freely in this environment
- Continually adapting the environment in order that the child may fulfill his greatest potential -- physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Educational materials located on low shelves within easy reach. The Montessori classroom includes children of different ages. By placing your child in a classroom with children of varying ages (usually between 2-1/2 and 6 years), you are exposing her to a wide range of learning possibilities. When a child first begins school, she will have the benefit of learning from older, more experienced children. Later on, she will be able to help others with learning skills that she has already mastered. Your child will also learn how to get along socially with a variety of other people.
The children are free to direct themselves and to set up their own program of learning in a trusting atmosphere under the guidance of the teachers. In this environment the children’s own natural curiosities are satisfied, and they begin to experience the joy of discovering the world about them. Montessori gives your child a strong basis, in her most formative years for developing into a well-rounded, responsible, happy and fulfilled adult. Maria Montessori featured children as "independent learners." Her advise was to "Follow the Child">, in Leaning. Dr Montessori designed unique materials which are manipulative, didactic, and sequential. It helps to develop child’s movement, sensorial awareness, concentration, language concepts. The space is usually divided into four distinct areas: practical life, sensorial, mathematics, and language. Although these areas represent the parts of the curriculum, it is important to remember that no subject is taught in isolation. The Montessori preschool curriculum is interdisciplinary and interactive.
Children love to do activities which help them to take care of themselves. Often we hear "I can do it myself". Practical Life area and activities lay the foundation for the child’s introduction to school, providing a link between home and school. The direct aim of this area activities is to assist the child in developing social skills and personal independence. The indirect aim is to develop the child’s fine motor movement, which involves the body, intellect and will.
Practical Life exercises teach children to care for themselves, for others, and for the environment. They involve a wide variety of activities such as carrying objects, walking, polishing, sweeping, dusting, lacing, mainly activities that are done in day to day living. It is divided into four major areas namely: movement, care of self, care of environment, and grace and courtesy. . All Practical Life activities are uniquely purposeful and calming. They also teach the child to complete a task following a step-by-step procedure. This sequential ordering of tasks prepares him for the logical task that awaits him in mathematics. Activities in these areas are presented in isolation in order to help the child focus his attention only on a particular task.
The purpose of Sensorial material is to refine and develop the child’s senses. Between the agesof three to six the child directs his senses and attention towards his environment, relying more on stimuli than on reason in his ordering of information.Sensorial Materialsprovide training of the senses. They teach children about color, shape, sound, dimension, surface, texture, weight, temperature and form. By using the Sensorial material, the child becomes conscious of achieving perfection through Control Error. He has a need to touch, to explore and manipulate. He acquires this mass of ideas, impressions and information and needs to establish a certain order from this chaos; to categorize, classify and catalogue all this information.The sensorial materials provide a basis for learning in an orderly manner, which supports psychological and neurological development. Sensorial materials provide indirect preparation for intellectual life. They develop cognitive skills such as thinking, judging, associating and comparing. Without exception, all Sensorial presentations are individual.
Language is not taught to a child. A child, in his early years, simply absorbs a language unconsciously. Language materials are often tactile; taking advantage of the 3 and 4 year olds sensitivity to learning through touch. Writing often comes early to the Montessori child through the use of concrete materials, like the pre-cut letters of the Moveable Alphabet, that allow her to express her knowledge without needing precise control of a pencil. Language Materials include Sandpaper Letters, Language Objects for initial sounds practice, word and picture Matching Cards, a Farm activity to develop vocabulary and Early Reader books. The individual presentation of language materials allows the teacher to take advantage of each child’s greatest periods of interest. Phonetics is taught using the sandpaper letters and movable alphabet; the child naturally builds reading and writing skills upon this foundation.
The Montessori Method provides the child with the words in order to help him better express himself, provides the tools for intelligent and correct speech. The child is given exercises with reading cards to provide opportunity for practice in reading. As the child goes on and prepared for exercises like labeling objects in the environment he works with nomenclature cards. Later the child is presented with exercises that introduce him to the function of words in a sentence. Language exercises prepare the child to move on to further work in reading. Discovery becomes interesting, fun and creative through activities in the Pink, Blue and Green Montessori language series.
Mathematics is presented to the child through manipulative materials that allows her to have hands-on experiencein learning mathematical concepts. Your child will be taught addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, reading of clock, the decimal system, number bonds, length, weight, calendar, capacity, graph, money and problem solving. Montessori thought of math as one of the fundamental kinds of activities essential for children's development. The children love order and they seek order. Order is the foundation of the mathematical mind. The math materials introduce the child to the quantities, and later on the symbols, 1 – 10 with the number rods and cards. The spindle boxes clarify the idea that a quantity is made up of separate quantities and introduces zero as no quantity. The memory game, cards and counters serve as practice for the child as she is required to remember and associate quantity to symbol. The cards and counters provide practice for the sequence of numbers and also introduce odd and even numbers. Another Montessori approach is to present work with the golden bead material, introducing the decimal system. With the golden bead material, exercises for the 4 mathematical operations are introduced. To reinforce her experience with the golden bead material, the stamp game for the 4 operations are given as follow-up exercises. The child is now moving to more abstract work. Instead of working with geometrically represented quantities, she is now dealing with stamps of the same kind, varying only in color and in the numbers printed on them. The child is also encouraged to write down the problems and answers on paper. The child then moves on to memory work. The goal is to have the child do mathematical operations solely on paper. Through this number work progression, the child moves from a concrete impression to an understanding of abstract mathematical concepts which enables her to mentally perform mathematical operations on paper with understanding and ease.
Geography, History, Biology, Botany, Zoology, Art and Music is presented as extensions of the sensorial and language activities. Children learn about other cultures past and present. The Montessori cultural/science subjectscover Nature study whichincludes the study of living and non-living things. Children will have the opportunity to explore and understand their environment. In Botany and Zoology environment children are exposed to the study of plants and animals. They will be taught to classify impressions into clear and simple categories. Geography classroom area will help to launch the child's exploration of the world's physical environment. Here children are introduced to various continents, countries, states, land and water form and the solar system.
History is introduces through creative activities such as modeling, painting and collage, children are taught to understand the distinction between pastand present and how past events have led to the present situation. Art and Music Exploring art materials and experiencing music, dance, and drama enrich the classroom.