The Montessori Method was developed by Maria Montessori, an innovative scientist and physician who was deeply interested in understanding child development. Using the scientific method and a keen sense of observation, she created materials that were developmentally appropriate and engaging for children to cultivate their independence, concentration and fine motor skills. 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 development. Children are innately curious, and eager to learn and the Montessori classroom provides a stimulating environment for them to explore with their senses.
PRACTICAL LIFE AREA
Practical Life serves to aid children in adapting to their environment, acquire coordinated movement and develop their will and independence. This occurs alongside the development of inner discipline, order and concentration. The exercises in Practical Life are also an indirect preparation for later works in Math and Language. The child undergoes 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 motor skills with cutting and movement activities.
The Sensorial area is highlighted by exercises that attend to Materialized Abstractions and Keys to the Universe. Materialized Abstractions refers to the child experiencing abstract concepts, such as length or thickness, in a concrete manner using their senses to explore the sensorial material. Keys to the Universe is the notion that the Sensorial Area provides the child with samples of the qualities of our world, such as color, shape, texture and size. Each quality and sense is isolated so as to heighten them. The sensorial area helps the child to classify and categorize their world, establishing order and a clarity of ideas. There is a progressive building of abstraction: beginning with establishing contrast, then matching and finally grading. Another main purpose of the Sensorial area is the refinement of the senses, training the senses to detect minute differences.
There are three aspects of the Language Area in our classroom: Spoken, Written and Reading. Spoken language begins with enriching the children’s vocabulary and is elemental in the Montessori classroom. Through spoken language games, the child develops phonological awareness which is invaluable in preparing for reading and writing. Written language begins with mental and manual preparation, indirectly acquired through the Sensorial and Practical Life areas. Writing is a simpler mental task than reading, and develops prior to reading. As such, the child is taught to write before they become emerging readers. Reading begins phonetically. It is the aim of the Montessori classroom to have a child become a “Total Reader”, someone who is able to perceive ideas, thoughts, sentiment and ultimately everything that the author is trying to convey.
Humans have mathematical minds, which classifies and establishes patterns, relationships and order in their world. The child is indirectly prepared for work in Math through exercises in other areas of the classroom. The Math area also uses Materialized Abstractions. Math principles are internalized in a concrete form, allowing the child to take an abstract mathematical principle and come into physical contact with it. Math follows the following steps: Presentation of quality, Presentation of symbol, Association of quantity and symbol, practice with a variety of exercises, “testing”.