"Education is a natural process carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words, but by experiences in the environment."
~ Maria Montessori
 

What is Montessori?


A Brief Overview:
Montessori is a holistic, hands-on teaching philosophy based on years of scientific observation that was initiated in 1907 by the first female doctor of Italy, Maria Montessori.  Through her years of experience with children around the world, Dr. Montessori proved that children are able to learn to read, write and calculate as easily and naturally as they learn to walk and talk.  With the use of specialized materials, an enticing Prepared Environment and the observation of Sensitive Periods, the curriculum allows for each child to learn independently and at their own pace through individual and small group lessons.  Areas of education include: Practical Life, which includes Grace and Courtesy lessons, Sensorial, Language, and Math.  Cultural areas of study included in the Montessori curriculum are: Geography, Science, Nature, Art and Music.  Maria Montessori was also nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her development of her Peace Curriculum and she created a non-secular spiritual program.



Practical Life:
 
Practical Life lessons are some of the first lessons given to children entering the classroom. These lessons are used as a bridge between the home and school environment because many of the activities have been seen by the child at home.  The child takes great pleasure learning how to care for themselves and the environment, while also developing their independence, focus and motor skills. It is beautiful to witness the unfolding pride that takes place when a child learns to prepare his/her own snack or make a flower arrangement.  Lessons in Grace and Courtesy liberate the child to the world of social graces.  We take for granted as adults that we know what to do when meeting someone for the first time or how to apologize when we accidentally hurt a friend. The children get to practice how to be gracious, as well as learning conflict management skills through fun role-playing lessons.



Language:

An enriching environment filled with storytelling, songs, biographies, and poems will enhance children’s oral language skills.  An individual phonics approach to language is used in the Montessori classroom.  The Sandpaper Letters help children connect the sound of the letter with its corresponding symbol.  Children’s tactile memory aids them as they trace the shape of the letter while saying the sound.  The language curriculum builds to create a moment in which sight, sound, and the pincer grasp all develop together and generate the amazing realization that the child knows how to read and write.
 

Sensorial:

Learning is achieved through sensorial interaction with our environment.  To enhance this natural process of learning, Maria Montessori developed groups of materials that sharpen the senses as the children work with them.  For example, the Sound Boxes sharpen their auditory senses and the Pink Tower sharpens their visual senses.  Through work with the sensorial materials, a child’s senses are refined, allowing them to take in the lessons of their environment to the fullest extent.



Math:
 
Children are gradually led by working with concrete math materials in order to understand abstract numbers and concepts.  Children start by working on number sequencing, matching quantities with the appropriate symbols and then are eventually led to interactive group lessons working with the decimal system.  Children internalize the concepts of math through manipulation of these concrete materials and are eventually able to explore math without the use of this manipulation.



Music, Art and Nature:
 
The study of Music, Art and Nature are interwoven throughout the Montessori curriculum.  It is through these subjects that children develop an appreciation for all life and how it is interrelated on Earth. A responsibility towards the environment and awe for the wonders of nature is also emphasized.

Art in the Montessori classroom focuses more on the process than on the finished product.  When a child wants feedback, rather than commenting on the value of the piece, attention is directed toward the child’s feelings when producing the art or how the child chose colors and shapes.  That said, a child’s art would never be referred to as “good” or “bad”.  The child’s finished piece of art will be regarded as original and expressive.  Each product is a distinctive combination of the mediums used, the process of creation and the child’s own expression of spirit.
 

Montessori Spiritual Curriculum:

The Montessori Spiritual curriculum is sure to enrich every family's personal religious belief systems.  Your child will be guided to:
  • Learn to appreciate more fully the present moment
  • Strengthen their connection between mind and body
  • Learn to enjoy stillness
  • Be encouraged to marvel about the infinite wonders of the universe from the smallest ant to the depth of the cosmos

“Religions are particular answers to the universal human questions about the creation and meaning of life.  "Spiritual" refers to the universal personal concern for the questions.”

~ Paul Byers, Anthropologist and Professor of Education Columbia University



Montessori Peace Curriculum:

We will be following the Flower of Peace Model explained in depth in the book "Honoring the Light of the Child" by Sonnie McFarland.  This book is available for short-term loan in the Parent Resource Section in our classroom.  There are six basic elements that fall under this model:
  • Spirit of Love: The interrelationship of all things is emphasized with the Spirit of Love as the common bond
  • Basic Needs and Human Rights: Under Maslow’s hierarchy of Needs theory, we must have our basic survival needs met before we are able to concentrate on the higher level needs. This will help the children develop compassion and understanding for all cultures.
  • Self awareness: Some activities include, but are not limited to deep breathing, responsible choice-making, emotional recognitions and expression, and empathetic understanding.
  • Community Awareness: These lessons focus on respect for others.  Grace and Courtesy lessons and community outreach are two examples that fall under this category.
  • Cultural Awareness:  One way to bring cultural awareness into the classroom is to emphasize the similarites between different cultures and then to explore the differences with reverence and wonder.
  • Environmental Awareness: Appreciation for the interconnectedness of our global environment will be expressed in our classroom.

   
Click here to watch a video about the Montessori philosophy.