Montessori education is one of the most universal and outstanding methods of early childhood learning. The Montessori method was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori (1879-1952) who established her theories through observations of children and her training in medicine, psychology, and anthropology. Maria Montessori understood that children have an innate desire to learn and explore. Young children are in a continuous process of growth and change. During this time, Maria Montessori described the “absorbent mind” whereby children effortlessly and joyfully absorb all elements of their environment and retain that knowledge. It is of utmost importance to realize that these early years are the root years and will influence the child’s adult life.
The hallmark of a Montessori program is the classroom environment. It is carefully designed and organized, clean and beautiful with a full range of Montessori didactic materials. Children in our Montessori classroom work in an unhurried, comfortable atmosphere at their own pace within a multi-aged group of children between 2.5 and 5 years of age. Older children assist younger ones and thereby develop their leadership and mentoring skills. In turn, younger children learn conflict resolution, role modelling and become naturally challenged. The environment is non-competitive, stimulating and encouraging.
Teachers strive to create a positive, responsive and encouraging environment through various means - observation, interaction, communication, lesson planning and documentation. They endeavour to build a strong parent/child/teacher relationship to promote an atmosphere of communication and reassurance. Our goal is to support the overall well being and development of each child.
Our classroom is organized into five distinct areas: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Mathematics and Culture. The lessons given from each of these areas assist children in their development of movement, concentration, orderly work habits, logical thought, independence, responsibility, self-discipline and social skills. Lessons are presented to both individuals and small groups. Children are given freedom to follow their interests at their own pace. The Montessori curriculum dovetails with the Ontario Early Learning Pedagogy.
These activities mimic daily living and are divided into four categories - care of self, care of environment, grace and courtesy and control of movement. They consist of lessons such as pouring, sewing, cleaning, plant care, etc. that children observe in their home environment. Children, therefore, want to learn these activities so they have a sense of belonging, usefulness and independence.
These materials develop a child’s senses (touch, sound, taste, smell, sight). Maria Montessori believed that classification and ordering are basic to future analytical thinking. Sensorial materials isolate concepts, develop language and are precursors to math and geometry materials. These lessons also allow for the playing of games to refine the senses.
Children at this age are in a sensitive period for language acquisition and development. Lessons include sandpaper letters, moveable alphabet, metal insets, writing, reading, language enrichment, etc. The classroom community fosters meaningful communication and expression and includes enriched literature.
Basic mathematical principles are taught to the children through manipulation of materials such as number rods, counting of chains, stamp game etc. Mathematical lessons presented to children take them from the concrete, sensorial impression of numbers to a more abstract form.
These lessons are the key to the larger, ever changing world. The cultural lessons include geography, history, science, botany and zoology. Lessons include maps, flags, experiments, stories, animal and plant classification. The focus is on developing a caring attitude towards all living things.
Art, Music and Movement
These components are incorporated into our daily classroom activities. We have a variety of musical instruments and art activities that allow children to express themselves. Children enjoy daily outdoor play that encourages physical activity, imagination, exploration and socialization.