Montessori classrooms are multi-aged learning environments, based on Dr. Montessori’s stage theory of human development, which she called The Four Planes of Development. In the first plane from birth to age six, the child is characterised by his or her “absorbent mind”, absorbing all aspects of his or her environment, language and culture. In the second plane from age six to twelve, the child uses a “reasoning mind” to explore the world with abstract thought and imagination. In the third plane from twelve to eighteen, the adolescent has a “humanistic mind” eager to understand humanity and the contribution he or she can make to society. In the last plane of development, from age eighteen to twenty-four, the adult explores the world with a “specialist mind” taking his or her place in the world. Maria Montessori believed that if education followed the natural development of the child, then society would gradually move to a higher level of co-operation, peace and harmony.
Dr. Maria Montessori was the first woman to graduate from Medical School in Italy in 1896. She began her vocation as a physician, and later studied education and anthropology. She strongly believed in observing children in order to define the sources of their development, both social and cognitive.
Travelling throughout the world she identified universal principles she believed to underpin every child’s development. Out of this research, the Montessori Method was developed with its unique philosophy, materials, and teacher training that is today practiced worldwide.
There were certain aspects that Dr Montessori saw which were very important for a child’s natural development. These became the bases of the Montessori Curriculum
- Practical Life
- Language & Literacy
- Cultural Activities
- Creative Activities
The goal of these activities is to develop the children’s ability to look after themselves and their surroundings. Also to build their co-ordination, concentration and self-sufficiency: hence the term Practical Life.
Practical Life helps a child to comprehend the sequences of activity and to begin to see the relationshi
p between cause and effect.
A lot of effort is placed on clear and efficient movement in order to demonstrate its importance.
By practicing these exercises over and over again children build their overall coordination of movement and self-composed behaviour. Also it enables them to care for themselves and their environment. For example by practising simple pouring and buttoning our approach interconnects with all the other Montessori areas.
Whilst they seem very simple exercises, they are very important for later academic success. Practical Life gives children a very strong foundation for writing and mathematical concepts.
In this area children learn by using Montessori materials which are designed for them to feel differences in height, weight, colour, sound, smell, texture etc. Hence the name Sensorial.
Consequently they absorb the idea of sequencing, comparing and matching.
Like Practical Life, it improves coordination and concentration and with this different abilities emerge. As they progress, children become fascinated with words and are then introduced to names and concepts like rhombus, ovoid, flat etc which are all parts of different exercises that work together in a huge puzzle.
Sensorial gives them the most firm foundation for Maths and Language in their later years.
LANGUAGE & LITERACY
Children are natural learners and they like beautiful things. In Montessori, reading and writing come to children almost naturally and we are using this ability in specially designed exercises.
Using the most basic tools like Sandpaper Letters and Classified Cards, children develop a deep understanding of the world around them and group it into categories.
Children start writing before reading by using what we call the Moveable Alphabet.
First, they learn sounds in I Spy games and then they associate these sounds with corresponding letters.
Consequently they use this knowledge later on to begin to write.
When children have studied sounds there’s nothing to hold them back from reading.
Maths in the Montessori environment is already introduced during preparatory exercises in Practical Life and Sensorial. When learning Maths the children are given physical representation of numbers in Montessori materials such as Spindles, Red Counters and Golden Units.
In this way, children understand the abstract properties of a number. For example, the number Three is represented by Three Spindles or the number Five is represented by Five fractions of a Number Rod. This gives them a physical impression of size and quantity.
The abstract representation of a number comes later once the children understand these physical properties.
By then the children will know what number 3 really feels like and we progress from there!
This is a beautiful and rich area in our environment.
From globes and maps to land and water forms or Classified Cards of animal groups. They all show children the world as it is in its most non-abstract form.
Children not only love these exercises, they also absorb developmental goals.
The aim is for children to leave Montessori schools with a very broad knowledge of the world and good insight to geography, biology, science and history.
Painting, drawing, music, dance, role-plays and foreign languages are all incorporated into the children’s daily activities at Wonderkids Montessori School.
Children experience these activities with materials from all over the world and from many different cultures.
It is the first step to build a confident, balanced and curious child who will become interested in his or her world and ready to face its challenges.