The Early Childhood Program
Maria Montessori believed that education is the process of unfolding what has been given at birth. A child learns through interaction with the environment. The child goes through sensitive periods for order, movement, and language. These sensitive periods enable the child to choose from the environment activities suitable for his/her growth. Being able to follow this interest is necessary in order for the child to be able to reach his or her full potential. Therefore, the proper environment and the freedom to independently choose work are very important to the education of the child.
"The environment itself will teach the child, if every error he makes is manifest to him, without the intervention of a parent or teacher, who should remain a quiet observer of all that happens."
Montessori materials are child sized, child manipulated, and have a control of error. These criteria allow the child to work independently. All Montessori materials require movement. This type of education is very individualized and allows children to work at their own pace. Repetition and concentration are important aspects of this process. The child's work does not need to be rewarded with praise from the teacher. Rather, the work is the reward itself. Motivation is intrinsic rather than extrinsic with the goal of instilling a life long love of learning.
It is through the materials in the practical life area that the child develops the self-confidence, control and concentration essential for mastery of the other more advanced area of a Montessori class.
Children will be naturally drawn to this area because these materials are most familiar to them. This familiarity also serves to provide the children with a feeling of security and wellbeing. The work will contain objects and materials that are encountered in the everyday living experiences of the children's culture.
Matching sets of objects, learning the names of household items, fruits and vegetables and geometric shapes are activities, which build language and early literacy skills.
Young children are introduced to letters by listening to the sound each letter makes while tracing the textured surface of the sandpaper letters.
Once children have recognition of letters, they begin to identify the initial sounds in words and match them accordingly.
The moveable alphabet gives children something concrete, which aids to word composition.
Each sensorial material was designed to isolate one defining quality, such as color, weight, shape, texture, size, sound and smell.
The primary purpose of the sensorial area is to help the child sort out the many and varied impressions given by the senses.
It is in the sensorial area that math concepts are first introduced and internalized.
Montessori students use hands-on learning materials that make abstract concepts clear and concrete.
This approach to learning offers a logical strategy for helping students understand and develop a firm foundation in mathematics and geometry.
The Montessori early childhood classroom offers many opportunities for the child to expand knowledge of the world during the early years when they are motivated by a natural curiosity.
Emphasis is placed on community. The class gathers multiple times a day for group lessons, book reading, songs, counting the calander, and the children are invited to share stories about their experiences and interests.