This area of exploration is your child’s first introduction to the Montessori environment. It offers a multitude of beautifully prepared materials designed around activities your child can connect with home life. The child’s “work”, such as spooning beans, pouring water with a pitcher, folding laundry, dressing themselves, cleaning, and food preparation is enticing in part because these are real and functional activities. Yet these seemingly simple tasks subtly target the development of coordination, concentration, organization and independence – skills which prepare them for the much bigger “work” to come. Practical Life activities, due to their authenticity, also help children develop a spirit of friendliness and helpfulness in their classroom community.
Sensorial materials offer your child an opportunity to engage in the exploration of their five senses. The senses are a young child’s primary source of gathering information about their world. Each Montessori sensorial material isolates a concept for the child in a concrete manner: color, shape, size, weight, texture, sound or smell. Children, already keenly observant, learn to compare, contrast, discriminate, categorize and recognize patterns. These are all skills which support strong math and language development.
Montessori classrooms are rich in beautiful and accurate vocabulary. Friends, materials, even expressions of emotion, are referred to by their correct names. Songs, conversation, poetry and stories are all components of your child’s school experience, fostering confident self-expression and strong language skills.
Your child’s first introduction to the alphabet is done phonetically by the sound the letter makes most often in the English language. Once children recognize the sound associated with a letter they can begin the process of “decoding” a word. The discovery by a child that a group of letters is actually a word they recognize is an extremely important and exciting milestone. From this point on, language skills progress at an incredible pace, until the child can decode and use context cues to achieve “total reading” – fluency with comprehension.
Writing skills begin in nearly every area of the classroom, especially Practical Life, where hand strengthening and fine motor coordination are actively supported. Work on trays, folding lessons, and even group activities proceed from left to right to underlay the direction of reading and writing. Along with letter sound recognition, the student learns the shape of the letters, practicing with many kinds of media to reproduce them – drawing in a tray of salt, forming the letters with clay, writing on chalk boards, using the Movable Alphabet, and more.
In keeping with the concrete nature of a child’s learning process, the Montessori Math area uses interesting visual and tactile materials for exploring numeracy, counting and operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. More abstract concepts, such as fractions and telling time, are also presented in precise, concrete ways. Your child will learn the concept of “quantity” by being invited to touch and move pebbles or beads on a mat, placing them under a numeral in the correct amount. Counting friends at group time helps develop one-to-one correspondence. The math Bead materials are color coded based on quantity and can convey concepts from “how many” to the squares of numbers, multiplying in groups and even operations with numbers in the thousands.
The Montessori Cultural curriculum encompasses the areas of:
- Science, including Zoology and Botany
- Art and Music
- Peace Education
Using concrete materials, your child will learn about their place in the world, both physical and social. Through the Geography lessons and the study of different cultures, children learn to appreciate each other’s differences and discover how we are still alike in many ways. Diversity is explored through stories, photographs, cultural artifacts, food and interaction with guests and each other. The Science curriculum invites curiosity, investigation and experimentation in the world accessible to the classroom, including nature walks, the hatching of chicks, caring for pets in the classroom, growing plants and more. The Art and Music work allows your child to explore their self-expression through dancing, moving, singing, and creating with all manner of media.
Lastly, Peace Education is the underlying theme for the Montessori classroom community. Children learn the concept of respect, both for self and others, the importance of being kind, compassionate and helpful, to be understanding and accepting of differences, and to celebrate the unifying aspects that connect us all.