Probably the best way to explain the Montessori method of teaching by way of introduction is to look to the historical beginning. Maria Montessori was an Italian physician and educator who proposed a method of teaching young children that stresses the development of initiative and natural abilities. Although Dr. Montessori has been gone since 1952, the model of the learning environment she created has endured the tests of time, study, and approval by many educators and now is widely accepted as a compelling alternative to "traditional" methods.
Montessori can be viewed as a pyramid, with the foundation corners consisting of student, parent, teacher, and environment. On this strong base, well prepared introductions to books, materials, lessons, and projects are built, with the emphasis on growth in curiosity and creativity. There are certain physical areas relating to subject matter: language, math, geography, biology, art, music, etc., and the child is encouraged to move freely about the classroom and take whatever time is necessary to complete work on a specific subject. The teacher gently guides the student through all subjects to make certain he receives a comprehensive education. Keep in mind that these children are like tiny sponges, rapidly absorbing the world around them. In this vein, we are driven by the adage:
I hear and I forget,
I see and I remember,
I do and I understand.
From the base of the pyramid (environment, teachers, supportive parents, and inquisitive students), we at The Kinder Garden School guide the children in our charge to the pinnacle of the pyramid: enlightenment.
Practical Life exercises instill care for self, for others, and for the environment. Activities include many of the tasks children see as part of the daily routine in their home, such as preparing food and washing dishes, along with exercises of grace and courtesy. Through these tasks, children develop muscular coordination, enabling movement and the exploration of their surroundings. They learn to work at a task from beginning to end, and develop their powers of control and concentration.
Sensorial materials serve as tools for development. Children build cognitive skills, and learn to order and classify impressions by touching, seeing, smelling, tasting, listening, and exploring the physical properties of their environment.
Mathematics activities help children learn and understand the concepts of math by manipulating concrete materials. This work gives children a solid understanding of basic mathematical principles, prepares them for later abstract reasoning, and helps to develop problem-solving capabilities.
Language development is vital to human development. The Montessori environment is rich in oral language opportunities, allowing the child to experience conversations, stories and poetry. The manipulatives, such as sandpaper letters, help children link sound and symbol effortlessly, encouraging the development of written expression and reading skills. To further their reading development, children are exposed to the study of grammar.
Geography, Biology, Botany, Zoology, Art and Music
Geography, Biology, Botany, Zoology, Art and Music are presented as extensions of the sensorial and language activities. Children learn about people and cultures in other countries with an attitude of respect and admiration. Through familiarity, children come to feel connected to the global human family. Lessons and experiences with nature inspire a reverence for all life. The comprehensive art and music programs give children every opportunity to enjoy a variety of creative activities, as well as gain knowledge of the great masters.