Self Construction: Dr. Montessori teaches us that the greatest task in the first six years of life is the construction of the self. Self Construction is not you, as I need you to be, but you at your best. This is why the lessons, presentations and work in the early Montessori school years are geared to individual children, one-to-one. Montessori teaches us to honor the sacred task of each single child’s developing character and self-awareness.
Dr. Montessori believed that no human being is educated by another person. He or she must do it by him or herself or it will never be done. A truly educated individual continues learning long after the hours and years spent in the classroom because the person is motivated from within by a natural curiosity and love of knowledge. Dr. Montessori felt, therefore, the goal of early childhood education should not be to fill the child with facts from a preschool course of study, but rather to cultivate the child’s own natural desire to learn.
In the Montessori classroom, this objective is approached in two ways:
- By allowing each child to experience the excitement of learning by his or her own choice rather than by being forced.
- By helping the child perfect his or her natural tools for learning, so that the child’s abilities will be maximized for future learning situations.
The Montessori materials have this dual, long range purpose in addition to the immediate purpose of giving specific information to the child.
Practical Life: Practical Life Exercises have as their goal the adaptation of the child to her environment and growth of her independence. This goal is accomplished through the development of coordination and controlled movement, by which the child will be enabled to care for both herself and her surroundings; thereby establishing herself in her society through courteous relations with others. For this purpose, the child is provided with special materials scaled to her size and with which she can enjoy such tasks as sweeping, dusting, polishing, washing, tying and buttoning. These exercises provide the child with a clear relationship between the “prepared environment” and what she has seen her own family do, thus allowing her to contribute to the life she sees around her.
Sensorial: A child is brought by nature to the task of classifying those materials which surround him. The Sensorial Materials of the Montessori Classroom are designed to aid the process of classification of the environment which has already begun, thus enabling the child to arrive at a conscious level of discrimination rather than a vague one. These materials are designed to develop the senses of hearing, vision, touch, taste, smell and perception, as well as the ability to discriminate between shapes and sizes.
Language: Language is the essence of the development of the child because it enables her to communicate with others and understand when they communicate. Within the Montessori Classroom your child’s vocabulary is enriched by storytelling, conversation and poetry. The Montessori child begins reading when she is ready and proceeds at her own pace. Sandpaper letters provide a phonetic basis for reading. The child hears the sound, sees the shape, and prepares her muscles for writing by the light tracing of the letter with the fingertips. Many other exercises for both reading and writing are found in the classroom environment.
Mathematics: The mind contains a mathematical ability inherent in all humankind. Therefore, it is essential to take a child’s natural mathematical tendencies and couple them with his innate urge for exploration, repetition and exactness. The mathematics materials used in the Montessori Classroom introduce the concept of concrete quantity before working with the abstract numerical symbols. “Quantity” is introduced by a series of rods which the child can count and compare. Beads and symbol cards familiarize the child with the decimal system. These exercises provide a deep understanding of the functions of numbers and concepts which will help the child in later abstractions.