The foundation of Dr. Montessori’s teaching method is based on the belief that the child is born into this world full of potential. The unique method she developed was designed to harness this natural potential and allow the child to take responsibility of his/her education.
In a Montessori school, older children learn leadership by assisting the younger ones. Younger children model the successful behavior of the older child. Both benefit enormously.
In the Practical Life area, the child develops specific skills that prepare for academic growth. It is the foundation for all other work. While children delight in the activities of polishing, washing, tying shoes, or preparing foods, they are simultaneously developing their coordination and learn a sense of order through sequence. They become independent through self-care.
The Montessori Sensorial materials help the child distinguish the differences in size, weight, texture, sound, color, and shape. Each of the five senses is engaged by a specific piece of equipment, allowing the child to develop sensorially through personal discovery. Learning to listen carefully enables the child to perceive subtle differences in the sound of the letters; experiencing the geometric shapes facilitates the ability to distinguish abstract letter forms. Thus, when a child develops his senses, he acquires the components for all other learning.
The Language program is filled with games that satisfy children’s fascination with sounds, words, and expressions. These games provide the foundation of phonics and reading. A child masters the alphabet through tracing sandpaper letters and learning the phonetic sounds of each letter. He prepares for writing through coloring designs, tracing, sandpaper letters, and building words with cut-out letters. Because each child progresses individually, some children will read at four, some at five, and some at six. The actual age is not as important as identifying the right moment of readiness.
For Montessori children math is more than rote memorization. Children learn the base 10 system with cube material that is properly scaled. (100 is 10 times larger than the 10 cube etc.) Beyond numbers as symbols, the children learn to interact with numbers in the physical world. They can pick up and hold a single bead that represents 1 while holding a cube of 1000 beads in the other hand. These simple bead apparatus’ set the ground work for the student’s further work as they are presented addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, cubes, squares, and their roots, all with hands on materials that allow them to understand the physical implications of the mathematic operations they are performing.
The Cultural Activities are a vivid part of the Montessori classroom. The children explore art, food, storytelling, music, drama, zoology, botany, and geography. The music program is designed to nurture self-esteem, develop social awareness, motor coordination, and to build listening skills. The creative arts activities enable children to develop their inherent abilities of visual expression. Appropriate materials are presented and kept available in the classroom. An international and multicultural approach to geography strengthens children’s appreciation of individual differences and enriches each child’s own personality.
Parent-and-teacher conferences are scheduled twice during the school year. Additional conferences are scheduled if the teacher or parent feels it will be helpful. Children have the opportunity to show their parents their school activities on Mother’s Night and Father’s Night. Open house and parent orientation are scheduled at the beginning of the school year. Parents are welcome to observe their child in the classroom six weeks after their child has started school. When a child is enrolled at the school, parents are given a handbook that outlines required admission forms, arrival and dismissal procedures, health needs, lunch time, clothing, and other useful information.