Why Montessori?

The world of today presents great challenges to our children. They must learn to function in the world of the future as competent human beings. The Montessori philosophy recognizes this need, and helps all children develop to their highest potential. Through an individualized method, Montessori provides your child with an environment designed to develop concentration, self-esteem, confidence, respect and joy of learning. It is an experience that prepares the child for life.

The name “Montessori” is derived from Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and psychologist turned educator in the early part of the twentieth century.  Using her unique approach to dealing with children who had learning challenges, she developed a theory and supporting curriculum of specially designed learning materials and activities.

 

“Montessori” refers to a method of helping children develop within themselves the fundamental attitudes, skills, habits and ideas essential to a life of independent learning.  Emphasis is on presenting the child with age—and developmentally—appropriate activities geared to fulfilling their individual learning needs, particularly at the preschool ages of 3 to 6.

 

The primary objective of Montessori is development of a positive attitude to learning.  Its general objective is to prepare the child for later learning in traditional parochial, private and public schools, and to do this in such a manner that the child develops positive attitudes toward school, books, teachers, and their environment.

 

The objective is not to introduce the child to reading at age four, or to learn geometry at age 5, but rather to present the child with a variety of basic learning experiences in such a positive way that the child chooses to seek more challenging experiences.

 

Montessori teaching techniques are based on insights into how young children develop and how early learning takes place.  The emphasis is on individualized instruction.  There are hundreds of uniquely designed learning materials and their related learning activities, each of which appeals to children at various stages in their development as preschoolers.  Hence, the average classroom would find twenty or thirty children at any given time working on possibly a dozen different projects.  Group activities do have their place, but they are the exception rather than the rule.

 

The Montessori environment provides a balance of three distinct types of lessons necessary for the child’s fully rounded experience.  Each type provides a different aspect in the child’s development.

 

  1. Individual lessons are those during which the child experiences one-on-one time with an adult in the classrooms. Give-and-take conversations in these lessons provide very personal individualized time for the child.  In addition to learning the concept within the lesson, the child learns conversation skills.
  2. Small group lessons are an important part of the child’s day. The groups offer the child the opportunity to share within a manageable group.  In addition, the child learns from the others by listening to the responses of others who may have additional information to offer and experiences to share.
  3. The line time offers the child the opportunity for developing gross motor skills, the ability to wait for a turn, listen to others, gain control of the body and enjoy singing songs with their friends all while learning to “be with” a larger group of children.

 

The Montessori classroom addresses a child’s developmental needs in several ways:

  •   It allows the child to make choices.
  •   It gives the child an opportunity to learn to work independently.
  •   The ability to concentrate can be developed and expanded upon.
  •   Activities are provided to perfect small and large muscle activity.
  •   Children experience a high level of social interaction.
  •   Children learn to respect themselves and others.

 

Materials in the Montessori classroom are devised scientifically, carefully and ingeniously, devoted to the comfort, profit, enjoyment and self-education of children—I hear, I see, I feel. The items on the shelves and throughout the classroom are arranged with a purpose.  The materials are beautifully presented so that children naturally want to touch them.  In “calling out” to the children, the materials help them make important choices:

 

  •   Shall I scrub the table, or work with a puzzle?
  •   Count red and blue rods or trace a sandpaper letter?
  •   Spoon beads, cut out a circle or water the plants?
  •   Draw the parts of a flower or match the animal cards?
  •   Use the cylinder blocks or eat a snack?
  •   Watch my friend label the shapes in the geometric cabinet or make a map?

 

Making any choice is important in helping children develop their decision-making skills.

Children in a Montessori environment often refer to their activities in the classroom as their “work.”  Using that terminology gives the children a sense of importance and are quite excited to do “work” in the classroom.  Dr. Montessori believed that a child “builds” themselves through their work and are driven by their constant activity and effort.  The child’s work is quite different from the work of an adult.  Children use the environment to improve themselves; adults use themselves to improve the environment.  In other words, preschool-aged children work for the sake of the process; adults and older children work to achieve an end result.

 

The Montessori classroom is designed so that the adult in the room is not in control.  Rather, the children and the materials direct the activity in the classroom.  The adults present merely provide a link between them.  They will make presentations-precisely and carefully-and will then step back so that the child can work independently.  In this way, the child gains experience through their own personal efforts.

 

The teacher, referred to as the Directress or Guide in a Montessori environment, serves as the catalyst, introducing the child to a learning activity, then stepping aside to let them learn by themselves, and sense the thrill of discovery and its consequent inner satisfaction.  This process builds self-confidence within the child, as well as providing inner motivation for still more learning and discovery.

 

The adults move carefully through the classroom, being especially aware of the need for presentations of new materials.  In addition to more lengthy presentations, the adults often give “mini-lessons” (a few seconds here; a few seconds there) on such things as how to carry materials, walk around a rug, carry a pair of scissors, etc.  Sometimes the adult says nothing but simply shows as a reminder.

 

Montessorians encourage independence in children – “never do for a child what they are capable of doing for themselves.”  They are asked to make choices and to take on much of the responsibility for their own learning.  An independent learner does not wait for the rest of the group to catch up, or expect everyone else to be doing the same thing.  Independent learners move at their own pace, but if they are struggling, others around them will offer to help.  Those helping, in effect, become “teachers.” Independence is a life skill necessary for survival as an adult.  By encouraging independence, we prepare children to lead fully satisfying lives as adults

 

Concentration is the focusing of attention on a specific task for a relatively uninterrupted length of time (from minutes to hours).  Concentration often occurs with an individual working alone, but can also happen when a group of children are working together and focusing on the completion of an activity.  This ability to narrow the range of stimuli to which one is attuned is a critical component of the ability to learn.  The full work cycle time is an important aspect of the Montessori environment.  Children can work for long periods of time in concentrated activity under suitable conditions.  For this to occur, it is necessary that there be a minimum of three hours of unbroken work time.  Disruptions are disrespectful of the child involved in his great work.

 

Developing the ability to concentrate arises from the child being able to focus on their work without interruption.  It also arises from the point of interest contained in the Practical Life materials.  It comes about when a child gets “hooked” on an activity that they can do successfully.  Real moments of concentration may not be long.  Some children appear to be doing nothing, but are they?  Are they observing?  Are they in transition as they try to decide on a new work?  Adults sometimes will make suggestions, but they are merely that—suggestions. Adults and children are taught not to disturb another person working independently.

 

Movement is a necessary part of the life of a child.  Equally important is the control of that movement.  That is why the child brings their work to a rug or a table, carefully rolling and unrolling the rug to define the work area; or carries a soiled polishing cloth to a special basket and brings a fresh one back to their work; why they read a comment label “hop” and performs the task with serious intent; why they stretch their arms to “know” just how long the “7” rod really is.  Children learn to inhibit some actions in order to gain control over their body; for example, walking around a rug rather than on it and on another child’s work, carrying materials with two hands for greater control, setting an object down quietly so as not to disturb the concentration of others, pouring slowly to insure nothing is spilled, etc.

 

The opportunities for small muscle activities are abundant throughout the room.  These activities allow children to perfect their fine motor control.  Certain activities call for the “pincer” movement-they use the thumb and first, second and third fingers and include:

 

• the peg board                   • polishing                 • knobbed cylinders

 

There are many activities in the classroom that call for touching and tracing with first and second fingers for lightness of touch, all preparing or reinforcing the proper hand position for holding and using a pencil.

 

In the classroom, children and adults live together, providing many opportunities for social interactions.  Special moments of respect and helpfulness are exchanged between and among the children.  Children learn to successfully handle conflict.  Often the adults will not interfere in conflicts, instead allowing the children to possibly work through them on their own and rely on their inner resources. If it is needed, however, intervention occurs only to help reflect the dilemma to the children and is all times intended to help them resolve the conflict.  For a very young child, it may simply be a case of redirecting their interests.

 

There are natural tendencies within the child at this age that repeat themselves consistently from culture to culture and generation to generation.  As a part of a community, the child readily accepts the responsibilities connected to each new freedom given.  They understand the need to participate in the upkeep of their environment, the need to contribute to discussions concerning problem solving, etc.  We observe in this age child a healthy development of life’s positive values:  meaningful relationships, a sense of belonging to a community, a purposeful involvement in the learning process of life values.

 

There is a three-year age span in the Montessori classroom that offers children the experience of holding various roles in the community. First year students, most often three year olds, are welcomed into the classroom with older peers to guide them. Second year students practice mentoring the younger ones as they themselves gain confidence and skills. Third year students, usually the Kindergartners, are confident role models who enjoy more responsibilities as leaders as they also experience more advanced work.

 

Because our Kindergarten graduates have been exposed to a wide range of curricular concepts in the Montessori program, the natural tendencies of their curious, reasoning minds can function to their capacity. Confident and capable, they can mentally move through the doors of the universe and beyond in whatever new school environment awaits them.

PROGRAM OPTIONS

Full Day

7:30 - 5:30*

School Day

8:30 - 3:00

Half Day and Lunch

8:30 - 1:00

Half Day

8:30 - 11:30

*optional care until 6pm available.

Give your 3 to 6 year old a nurturing foundation for a lifetime of joyful learning!

Our Montessori programs are designed to help your child reach his or her fullest potential.