The Montessori Method
The Montessori Method is designed to allow the child to learn through his own initiative and curiosity, at his own pace, within a cooperative and nurturing atmosphere.
Children are free to move about the room to select learning activities that interest them. Freedom within limits helps the child develop decision-making abilities while in a safe and secure environment. Children are free to concentrate on an activity without interruption. The method aims to develop independence, self motivation, concentration, a sense of responsibility and confidence in one’s own abilities.
The Montessori Classroom
The Montessori classroom is a carefully prepared environment designed to facilitate the development of the children’s independence and sense of personal empowerment. It consists of classroom equipment scaled to child-size, specially designed learning materials unique to Montessori classrooms, and a teacher who serves as a helper, guide and trained observer. The classroom consists of open shelves with bright, attractive materials that stimulate hands-on learning. The room invites activity and movement and fosters independence by the open availability and self-correcting aspects of the materials.
During their work time, children make independent choices as well as receiving individual and small group instruction from their teachers. The classroom is divided into five main learning areas which contain materials for the mixed-age groups. A Montessori environment offers a Practical Life area which promotes socialization and an opportunity for children to replicate tasks observed at home such as pouring, scooping, sweeping, dishwashing, etc. The Sensorial area offers the child activities that introduce shape, color and dimension, utilizing their senses. In addition, the Math curriculum introduces an extensive variety of mathematical concepts that include numbers 0-9, teens and tens, the decimal system, all four operations, fractions, time and money. The Language area focuses on pre-reading activities such as sequencing, classification rhyming, etc. Phonetic sounds are introduced, and a reading series available for those children who have mastered that skill. Language is also a component in all areas of the environment as children build vocabulary with visual messages evident in print throughout the room. The Culture area includes work that results in an awareness of other countries and people around the world. Materials in these areas range from concrete to abstract and are sequenced simple to more complex, giving the child visual cues as to the order of use. The child’s day is typically a combination of individual work, both independent and teacher directed, small group lessons and large group activities.
This is the children’s community. They move freely within it, selecting activities that capture their interest and strengthen their minds.
Individuality in the Classroom
The Montessori Method promotes respect for the individuality of each child and his work. Children are encouraged to work at their own unpressured pace. Self-motivated learning ensures many successes which encourage a feeling of competence so that the child easily moves on to new challenges at more difficult levels — with positive self-esteem — and the teacher as his guide. A consistent routine allows Montessori schools to operate ungraded, with children 3 through 6 grouped together in the preschool, and children 18 months to 3 years grouped together in the toddler program. This focus on individualism, coupled with exposure to physical and mental order, helps the child develop an “inner discipline.” The prepared environment of the Montessori class allows the child to explore, discover, and select his/her own work. The independence that the child gains is not only empowering on a social and emotional basis, but it is also intrinsically involved with helping the child become comfortable and confident in his/her ability to master the environment.