Dr. Maria Montessori’s educational method of teaching was founded in 1907. She based her educational methods on the scientific observation of children’s learning processes. Guided by her discovery that children teach themselves, Dr. Montessori designed a “prepared environment” in which children could freely choose from a number of developmentally appropriate activities. The primary classroom is organized into five major areas: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math and Cultural Studies.
The practical life activities are focused around care of self, care of environment, grace and courtesy, and movement. These activities help the child to develop particular lifelong skills (zipping or tying, pouring or cutting, greeting a visitor). The children cultivate their eye-hand dexterity and coordination through use of pouring, spooning and polishing materials as well as developing physical independence when carrying out everyday tasks. Exercises which foster courtesy, such as preparing and serving snacks, help children begin to develop a ssense of belonging to an interdependent community.
The sensorial curriculum focuses upon work of the hand and mind. Through exercises of comparison, discrimination and observation designed to refine the sense, children develop their foundation for later abstract learning. Coordination skills, concentration and judgment are fostered as children manipulate the colorful, attractive sensorial apparatus.
Language is an integral component of the entire Montessori curriculum, because all thoughts, ideas and concepts can only be understood and clarified through oral or written communication. As such, language is always presented in a context or body of information, rather than studied in isolation of other material. The children will learn the symbols for each sound and then begin to make simple phonetic words using the Moveable alphabet, which is a set of precut letters. Through these exercise, children discover that they can read.
The mathematics curriculum is based upon the importance of comprehension through manipulation and sensorial learning. Understanding of number value and symbol, fundamental operations and mathematical number facts are achieved through exploration of concrete materials that are designed to illustrate mathematical principles. Learning in this way promotes feelings of confidence and success and ultimately the development of a mathematical mind.
In the cultural area, materials focusing upon topics related to biology, history, geography, art, music and movement are presented to stimulate the appreciation and natural curiosity possessed by children about the world which surrounds them. Creativity is fostered through a variety of activities related to the expressive arts.
The elementary program provides a full expression of the Montessori principles of self-directed, individualized learning in a truly integrated curriculum. By building on basic skills acquired through manipulation of specially prepared materials, the elementary child moves from the concrete to the abstract reasoning. The elementary program offers individualized instruction, which means that the child may work and be helped on an individual basis. Individualized learning establishes more exclusive contact between the child, the teacher, and the work. No child feels pressure to conform or feels he/she is performing better than or worse than his/her peers, because the children all understand they are each working at their own pace. Grades, as understood in a traditional school, are not given out. The child compares his/her work to his/her goals, and works to improve from within. The environment encourages children to love learning for its own sake.
In a Montessori elementary classroom the children are ready to explore the world at large – what Montessori calls “Cosmic Education” – including the sciences, the arts and the universe. Students at this level explore the realm of mathematics, science and technology, great literature, history, world geography, and the basic organization of human societies. Their studies cover memorization of math facts, spelling lessons, and the study of vocabulary, grammar, sentence analysis, creative and expository writing, and library research skills.
• Acquire the knowledge, skills and inclination for academic exploration across the curriculum.
• Approach new experiences and challenges with confidence and perseverance.
• Respect, encourage, and celebrate the individual spirit and creativity of each person.
• Learn the importance and benefits of cooperation, kindness and collaboration.
• Build on their innate curiosity and become self-motivated, independent learners.
• Value a lifestyle of physical fitness and enduring health.