_ THE MONTESSORI MAGIC
The otherworldly quiet. This is how you recognize a true Montessori preschool
It is usually the thing that strikes people first, and anybody who knows what children ages 3 to 6 are usually like can see why
In a school where the Montessori Method is faithfully applied, the decibel levels will typically be eerily, monkishly low
The Multi-Age Classroom
Multi-age groupings in a Montessori school enable younger children to learn from older children and experience new challenges through observation. Older children reinforce their own learning by teaching concepts they have already mastered, while developing leadership skills and serving as role models. Because each student’s work is individual, children progress at their own pace; there is cooperation rather than competition between the ages. This arrangement mirrors the real world, in which individuals work and socialize with people of all ages and dispositions.
A hallmark of Montessori education is the hands-on approach to learning and the use of specially designed learning materials. Beautifully and precisely crafted, Montessori’s distinctive learning materials each teach a single skill or concept. The materials follow a logical, developmentally appropriate progression that allows the child to develop an abstract understanding of a concept./p>
The Prepared Environment
A Montessori Early Childhood classroom feels more like a home than a school. Each classroom is uniquely suited to the needs of its students. Preschool rooms feature low sinks, chairs, and tables; a reading corner with a small comfortable chairs and reachable book shelves, elements that allow independence and help develop small motor skills. Above all, each classroom is warm, well-organized, and inviting, with tables, chairs, rugs, plants and flowers to help children feel calm and at home.
The Montessori Teacher
Working as a guide and facilitator, the Montessori teacher creates a well-prepared Montessori environment and an atmosphere of learning and inquisitiveness designed to move students from one activity and level to the next. A Montessori teacher often steps back while the children are working, allowing them to learn from their own discoveries and draw their own conclusions. Rather than supplying children with answers, the Montessori teacher asks them how they would solve the problem, actively engaging children in the learning process and enhancing critical thinking skills. In most cases, children learn directly from the environment and other children, rather than the teacher.
_ Five key learning areas in a Montessori prepared environment
Although each Montessori environment is special and unique, they do resemble one another with respect to how the environment is arranged. Every Montessori preschool classroom is divided into the five main Montessori subject areas: Practical Life, Sensorial Development, Language, Mathematics, and Culture & Sciences
The Practical Life Area
Practical Life activities are the activities of everyday life and they are involved in all aspects of life. The child observes these activities in the environment and gains knowledge through the real experience of how to accomplish life skills in a purposeful way. These activities are cultural and specific to the child's time and place. Practical life activities help give the child a sense of being and belonging, established through participation in daily life with us. Through practical life the child learns about his culture and all about what it is to be human. Generally the activities of practical life revolve around four areas:
● Caring for the self
● Caring for the environment
● Grace and Courtesy
● Movement of objects
The Sensorial Area
The sensorial area in a Montessori prepared environment helps refine the five primary senses in a child. Like many other materials in the Montessori classroom, sensorial materials have what is called "control of error", meaning that the child not only works with the material, but has a way to check their work rather than seeking out the teacher if they have a question on whether or not they did it right. This is done to help promote independence and problem solving on the part of the child.
● Sense of Sight Most of the activities on the sensorial shelves will have an element of visual discrimination to allow the child to classify by size, colour, shape, depth, etc.
● Sense of Smell: Activities that activate the smelling senses enabling a child to identify and match smells to their source.
● Sense of Touch : The thousands of nerve endings in the skin respond to four basic sensations — pressure, hot, cold, and pain .
● Sense of Hearing: These activities focus on listening skills
● Sense of Taste: In this area, the child will be able to identify and distinguish senses of taste such as salty, sweet, bitter and sour.
The Language Area
Dr. Montessori realised the importance of a prepared environment and the relation to the child’s Absorbent Mind. Within the Montessori classroom there are four areas of learning related to language
Dr. Montessori devised her materials in relation to these learning areas. She referred to “The best age for a child to learn to write is from three and a half year old to four and half.” (Standing, 1957 p137).
The Practical Life activities in the classroom indirectly prepare the child for writing, amongst other daily activities. Pouring and transferring teach the child the pencil grip which indirectly introduces the concept of holding a pencil in preparation for later writing.
The Sensorial activities and the materials associated with the language section develop and refine the child’s spoken language, written language and reading. Repetition of the exercises and the Three Period Lesson reinforce the understanding that the child has of the concepts of speech, writing and reading. Up to the age of three to four years old the child’s words have been flexible. They have not been clearly understood. They have been used singly, without structure. It is a sudden change when a child starts to make sense of his words and begins to make structured sentences. From the age of four the child will associate his speech with written language.
The Math. Area
Mathematics comes naturally to children precisely because the world they live in is mathematical. It is a world of order: quantity, space, succession, and form are all mathematical concepts.
● Order: Everything in this universe follows a certain order or a sequence and it is by identifying this order we are able to solve some of the most complex problems to understand the concept within
●Quantity: The ability to determine the answer to "how much of something?" is key to understanding fundamental concepts of Math.
● Space : Simply put, space is the region in which an object exist. The concept of a space is an extremely general and important mathematical construct. All objects in a given space share a common property and obey the laws that are defined by that space.
● Succession: The fundamentals, and the the answer to complex problems are easily understood if we are able to define series of events and the order of their succession
● Form: In a wider sense, the form is the way something is or happens. Math identifies form as the shape, visual appearance, or configuration of an object. This concept is crucial for the understanding of Math.
Montessori education is famous for its ingenious, multi-sensory materials which gradually introduce children to more and more complex concepts. Because the materials allow for self-monitoring and self-correction, instruction is minimal. Rather than listening to a teacher explain concepts, children manipulate the materials and make their own discoveries.
Both the Practical Life and Sensorial curriculums play an essential role in indirectly preparing the child's mathematical mind.
Practical Life helps children to order their minds by presenting activities with sequential and logical step-by-step precision.
Sensorial materials help to bring order to the many sense impressions in a child's world. As they explore and manipulate the concrete materials, children's powers of observation, judgment, and reason develop.
Mathematical concepts are unconsciously absorbed. Working with materials such as the Pink Tower, Brown Stair, and Red Rods, children attend to dimension and learn to recognize similarities, differences, and gradations in size, width, weight, and length
The Culture Area
There's More to Physical Science Than Sink and Float!
"We especially need imagination in science. It is not all mathematics, nor all logic, but it is somewhat beauty and poetry." —Maria Montessori, The Montessori Method
The Culture area in Montessori helps bring an understanding amongst children that we are not alone and live in a Planet called Earth and share the Planet with other Humans, Plants , Trees, Animals, Birds, Insects, Marine lifeforms inhabiting different parts of the planet Earth that are commonly referred to as Towns, Cities, Countries and Continents.
They learn that we follow the laws of Science and learn about Time and Space and learn to identify the passage of time
The Culture area in an Early Childhood Montessori prepared environment addresses the following subjects:
● Geography :The child learns about continents, landforms, earth layers, our planet and our solar system
● Zoology: Children learn about animals, birds, marine life and insects
●Botany: Here the child learns about plants, trees, fruits etc and their importance in sustaining life in our planet
●History: Children learn about calendar and passage of time
●Science: Here, children naturally absorb the logic and the beauty of physical science as they interact with the environment: