Dr. Montessori recognized that the earlier we begin intellectual, physical, sensory, and artistic education, the more dramatic the results. The age from birth to 6 is a time of tremendous brain growth in language, spatial relationships, music, art, socialization and so much more.
Children at this stage work with hands-on materials which provide them with the keys to explore the world and develop cognitive abilities while the adult guides and stimulates this inborn creative ability and helps the child navigate their learning process.
The exercises of Practical Life resemble the simple work of life in the home: sweeping, dusting, washing dishes, etc. These purposeful activities help the child adapt to his new community, learn self-control, and begin to see himself as a contributing part of the social unit.
Grace and Courtesy
One of the most striking characteristics of an authentic Montessori classroom is the peaceful and disciplined nature of the children after a few weeks of interacting with the materials and teachers in the prepared environment. The grace and courtesy exercises inspire the children to improve their behavior, build character and embrace social norms, preparing them to adapt in any given social setting.
Children are born with a mathematical mind, meaning that they have a tendency to learn things which enhance their ability to be exact and orderly, to observe, compare, and classify. If mathematics is not part of the young child’s experience, with adequate help and direction, his/her subconscious mind will not be accepting of it at a later date. With the use their senses, they learn and absorb otherwise difficult mathematical concepts. Well-crafted Montessori materials and activities provide joy while learning and guide the child’s mind to reason and think logically. The materials isolate specific concepts, moving gradually from concrete to abstract understanding in areas such as;
- Place value
- Linear Counting and skip Counting
- Operations (Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division)
- Geometry (Exploration of Shapes)
From the very first days in the Montessori classroom, children are given the opportunity to listen to true stories about known subjects, told with great expression. Songs, poems and rhymes are a part of the daily life of the class. The teacher models the art of conversation and respectfully listens to her young students. Looking at beautiful books with lovely, realistic pictures are also a part of language appreciation. This is important because a child’s speech is connected to his/her sense of hearing. The teacher must be careful to pronounce words clear and use vocabulary correct to give the child a strong foundation for reading, writing and self-expression later on in life.
In a Montessori environment, children usually begin writing before they can read. This is especially true if they have been prepared by participating in practical life and sensorial exercises. They are keen to create words with a box of loose letters (the moveable alphabet) or write their words with chalk, adopting writing with a pen or pencil when they are truly ready. About six months later, they begin to understand what reading means, and they do so only through associating it with writing.
The sensorial materials help young children in the process of creating and organizing their intelligence. Each specially designed materials isolates information such as color, size, shape and this isolation focuses the attention on this one aspect. The child, through repeated manipulation of these objects, comes to form clear ideas and understanding of the world. What could not be explained by words, the child learns by experience working with the sensorial materials leading to an early preparation for mathematics, geography, science and language.
meta-skills such as concentration, fine motor coordination, critical thinking and satisfaction in real work.