The Montessori Classroom
The Montessori classroom is designed for various stages of development in children, which occur in roughly three-year cycles. From three to six years of age the child is in a developmental stage in which repetition and manipulation of the environment is critical for developing concentration, coordination, independence, and a sense of order. The child learns skills for everyday living including sorting, grading and classifying which lead to the development of writing, reading, and a mathematical mind.
Under the direction of a certified Montessori teacher, learning is individualized and self-paced. Our beautiful, light-filled Montessori classroom provide a comfortable and stimulating environment for children ages 3 to 6. Each early childhood classroom has a lead Montessori-trained teacher and two assistant teachers.
Each classroom activity is executed from beginning to end with careful attention to accuracy of sequence and process. The classroom contains six interrelated areas:
“The first essential tool for the child‘s development is concentration. The child who concentrates is immensely happy.” -Maria Montessori
The child develops an independent approach to personal care and care of his or her surroundings while increasing fine motor coordination. Various exercises involving buttons, brushes, pitchers, water, and other objects that the child might recognize from home help the child to feel comfortable and successful. The child also learns to pay attention to detail as he or she follows a sequence of actions. Practical life prepares the child for all other areas of the room, including reading and writing. The emphasis on task completion and continuity encourages good working habits.
“Written language can be acquired more easily by children of four years than by those of six. While children of six usually need at least two years to learn how to write, children of four years learn this second language within a few months. ” – Maria Montessori
Oral communication is encouraged as children learn to communicate with each other in small group or whole group situations. Children are given names for everything in the environment. Letters are tactically and naturally introduced to the individual sounds of the alphabet through sandpaper letters. After acquiring the ability to recognize several sounds, the child uses the moveable alphabet to make words. Miniature objects or pictures are used to represent the word; the individual sounds in the word are found in the moveable alphabet box and placed, in order, next to the object. While the child is acquiring a solid foundation in phonics, sight words are introduced. A variety of reading series awaits the child who has learned to decode the written language. Emergent readers can progress independently through reading series designed to increase both decoding skills and comprehension. Word study and parts of speech are all addressed through manipulative activities designed to help the child acquire beginning grammatical concepts. The reading and writing connection is fostered through countless classroom opportunities as the child begins to use handwriting as a learning tool and an avenue of creative self-expression.
“The senses, being explorers of the world, open the way to knowledge.” – Maria Montessori
A young child meets the world around him through the constant use of his or her senses. This is an ideal time to give the child equipment that will sharpen the senses and enable the child to understand the many sensorial impressions found in the environment. Visual, auditory, and tactile activities sharpen the child’s discriminatory skills. To help the child organize sensorial impressions, each piece of classroom equipment is carefully designed to define only one quality such as color, weight, size, or sound. As the child uses and manipulates the sensorial impressions, he or she begins to discover the multi-dimensional interrelationships found among the various pieces of classroom equipment. Further exploration leads to delight as the child progresses through a wide array of extension activities, more discoveries, and keener perceptions about the surrounding environment.
“Sometimes very small children in a proper environment develop a skill and exactness in their work that can only surprise us.” -Maria Montessori
If a child has access to concrete mathematical materials, he or she can easily assimilate the many facts and skills of arithmetic. Montessori mathematical materials help the child acquire conceptual understanding through repetition, manipulation, and mastery of skills. Enticed by inviting activities, the child is introduced to the concepts of counting, place value, and, finally, the basic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
“The teacher’s task is not to talk, but to prepare and arrange a series of motives for cultural activity in a special environment made for the child.” – Maria Montessori
With geography tools such as globes, puzzle maps, and the atlas, the child begins to develop a spatial sense of the world around him or her. The passage of time is a concept presented through seasonal and daily time lines, while the various land and water forms are illustrated through actual models the child fills with water. Picture files, objects, and an extensive library collection bring life to the different aspects of cultures, traditions, and celebrations from around the world.
“The secret of good teaching is to regard the child’s intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination.” – Maria Montessori
The objective of the science program is to make the child aware of the world around him or her. It builds on the child’s natural curiosity and helps the child to ask and answer “Why?” Plenty of opportunities are provided for the child to manipulate, classify, predict, and experiment.
The cultural area of the Montessori classroom consists of geography, history, art, music, science, cooking, gardening, lessons in grace and courtesy and any other opportunities that present themselves. By allowing children to freely experience their environment, we are aiding their natural ability to absorb knowledge and culture without effort.