THE MONTESSORI PHILOSOPHY
The Montessori Method was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, an innovative scientist and physician who was deeply interested in understanding child development in order to support children’s optimal growth. Using the scientific method and a keen sense of observation, she created developmentally appropriate materials to engage children in learning while simultaneously cultivating fine motor skills, independence, confidence, and concentration. At the core of the Montessori philosophy is the belief that children develop in accordance with their individual needs, and the Montessori classroom is purposefully designed to support and guide children’s individual development. Children are innately curious, and eager to learn and the Montessori classroom provides a stimulating environment for them to explore through their senses.
Nido de Montessori is a diverse educational community that is deeply committed to the Montessori philosophy. The program is tailored to the individual needs of students with an intentional focus on children’s social and emotional development. The Montessori classroom has four distinct areas: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language and Math and these are complemented and enhanced by our Inquiry research projects. Inquiry based learning is a natural compliment to our Montessori program. It offers children the opportunity to develop their critical thinking and problem solving skills in small group research projects.
At Nido de Montessori, our focus and intention is guided by the process, rather than the end product. This fosters the development of children’s metacognition and the mastery of understanding oneself as a learner. It is our ultimate goal to ignite children’s passion for learning, exploring and understanding so as to foster a community of lifelong learners.
The Practical Life materials aid children in adapting to their environment and culture while developing their will, concentration and independence. This occurs alongside the development of inner discipline, order and coordinated movement. The exercises in Practical life indirectly prepare children for more intricate works in Math and Language. Children undergo two stages during the exercises of Practical Life: when the child does the exercise for themselves and when they do it as a part of their community. Sample exercises in this area include sweeping, taking care of our garden and building fine and gross motor skills with movement activities.
The Sensorial area guides children as they classify and categorize their world, establishing order and a clarity of ideas. It is highlighted by Materialized Abstractions and Keys to the Universe.
Materialized Abstractions refers to the child experiencing abstract concepts, such as length and width, through their senses. Exploring abstract principals using concrete manifestations of the concept guide their exploration and deepens their connection and understanding.
Keys to the Universe is the notion that the Sensorial Area provides children with samples of the diverse qualities of our world, such as color, shape, texture and size. To heighten and highlight the sensorial experience for the children, each quality and sense is isolated. There is a progressive building of abstraction: beginning with establishing contrast, then matching and finally grading.
The Language Area can be divided into three separate but interrelated areas: Spoken, Written and Reading. Spoken language intentionally creates an environment designed to enrich children’s vocabulary and language development. Through games, songs, wordplay and modelling rich language, children develop Phonological Awareness. Research indicates that phonological awareness is invaluable in preparing children for future success in reading and writing with fluency.
At Nido de Montessori, writing and reading begin phonetically with the development of strong Phonemic Awareness. Children learn their sound/symbol correspondence using their senses, which strengthens neural pathways. It is our goal to guide children to become a “Total Reader”, one who is able to perceive ideas, thoughts, sentiment, context and tone when reading others works, as well as be able to convey this through their own writing.
Written language begins with mental and manual preparation, indirectly acquired through the Sensorial and Practical Life areas. Writing develops prior to reading, as it is a simpler mental task to isolate component sounds in a word, and place them in their correct order. As such, the children are invited to write words before they become emerging readers. Reading is a more complex cognitive task, which requires one to decode the sounds in a word, blend them together to form the word, and then attach meaning to the word with its particular context.
Humans are innately drawn to mathematics; we classify and create order in our world through establishing patterns, sequences, hierarchies and relationships. At Nido de Montessori, children are indirectly prepared for complex work in Math through preliminary exercises in Practical Life and Sensorial. The Math area also uses Materialized Abstractions to reveal complex relationships between abstract concepts. Math principles are introduced in a concrete form through play, allowing the child to internalize abstract mathematical principles through sensorial connections with them.
Children are initially introduced to quality (number sense) through their senses, and are then introduced to symbols that represent quality. This is followed by exercises that help the child associate the symbol with the quality. Children develop fluency with Math concepts through play and repetition with the Math materials, that is marked by verifying one’s work.