In this classroom the traditional Montessori mixed age grouping becomes more noticeable. Peer mentoring adds to the excitement as the younger child observes what he will soon learn and the older child has an opportunity to fully master her new skill by teaching it to someone else. By the time a child graduates to the elementary level he will have the foundations of reading and writing, have an understanding of addition and subtraction and know the continents of the world and the countries of at least one continent. Most importantly the child will be experienced at thinking independently, working in a concentrated manner for an extended period of time and best of all be an expert problem solver. These are the skills that will serve him the rest of his life.
The Montessori Method
The Montessori Method is based on years of patient observation of the nature of children and has proved itself of universal application. Race, color, nationality or social rank makes no difference to its successful application. The method is based on the child’s imperious need to learn by doing and has a profound respect for the child’s personality. It enables the teacher to deal with each child individually in each subject. Each child works at his or her own pace and the child has the freedom of movement in the classroom. Children pursue their own self-paced curriculum and learning takes place individually or in small groups. The critical cognitive skills are developed before age six and a multi-sensorial more flexible writing and reading program is available in the Montessori classroom. The Montessori method develops the whole personality of the child, not merely his intellectual faculties, but also to become a self-directed, self-disciplined person.
The materials for mathematics introduce the concept of quantity and its symbols, the numbers 0 through
The quantity is introduced by a series of rods that the child can count and compare. The child matches sets of symbol cards with the rods. Using a variety of beads and symbol cards, the child becomes familiar with the numbers as a decimal system, including concrete experiences with the operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. These exercises not only teach the child to calculate, but they provide a deep understanding of how numbers function.
The child is attracted to activities that give him/her independence and control of his/her own life. A most important need of the young child is to develop his muscles and coordinate his movement through such practical life exercises as sweeping, polishing, carrying water, pouring and washing a table. Special Montessori materials enable him to tie, button and snap and use many other fastening devices. The purpose of these exercises is to develop concentration and to pay attention to detail as the child follows a regular sequence of actions and to learn good working habits. These activities provide the very foundation on which the child approaches more intricate academic exercises.
One aspect of the Montessori Method taught at all Montessori schools is the Sensorial exercises. Sensorial Materials in the Montessori classroom are designed to sharpen the senses of the young child and enable the child to understand the many impressions he receives through them. Each of the Sensorial Materials isolates one defining quality such as color, weight, shape, texture, size, sound or smell. Sound boxes, for example, are all the same size, shape, color and texture; they differ only in the sounds that are made when the child shakes them. The Montessori Sensorial Materials help the child to distinguish, to categorize and to relate new information to what he already knows. His intellect is trained to make order out of a multitude of experiences and to increase his perception of the world around him that is the learning process.
The child learns oral language naturally. He automatically absorbs it from his environment. The work of the teacher is to expose him to the equivalent forms of written language, which he learns through the same general pattern of development. The Montessori child begins reading when he is ready and proceeds at his own pace. His experiences in practical life and sensorial education serve as a preparation for this. The sandpaper letters provide a phonetic basis for reading. The child’s desire and sensitivity to touch are utilized by these letters that are cut out of sandpaper and mounted for tracing. With cut out letters, the child builds his own words on a mat. The material frees him from the fatigue of his still developing writing skills and yet gives him the opportunity to pursue his interest in words. These activities serve as a preparation for the time when the child assimilates what he knows and explodes into writing.
Developmentally Appropriate School
Montessori is based on the principle of educating the “whole child” rather than just the verbal/ mathematical portion of intelligence. These years should be ripe with opportunities for social and emotional development in the learning of these human potentialities. In fact, without such development, a child is more likely to struggle in school and in later life. The years between 0 and 6 set the stage for most all that is to come in terms of social and emotional potential.
The child is leaving the self-centered years of infancy and is becoming a social being for the first time. What we take for granted as adults, like washing hands, waiting one’s turn, sharing, resolving conflicts using language instead of fists, are the most appropriate focus of instruction. The Montessori environment is perfect for these aims. Educators are well-trained to help children through these critical first attempts at becoming a social being. If a child starts at the age of 3, it seems that writing, then reading naturally develop. Children need time to find themselves and their place within a community of peers. True learning cannot take place as effectively without this foundation.
We urge parents and families to begin this journey for their child at age 3 or 4 rather than wait until kindergarten. Such a decision will not be regretted. Unless there is a learning problem that needs to be addressed, your child will very likely be writing, reading, and counting happily without stress, without tears.
To schedule a free tour of our facilities and register for American Montessori Campus’ Primary Program, contact us today.