The Montessori Environments
Very young children have an innate desire to take care of their own needs. Dedicated, nurturing and trained teachers in Montessori Toddler environments see the child as an individual, allowing him to set his own pace in pursuit of independence. Key components of a successful toddler program include a prepared environment, meaningful activity, and collaboration between parents and teachers.
The program is designed to foster cognitive development, speech and language acquisition, strengthen fine motor and gross motor skills for hand-eye coordination, and promote independence. Low shelves feature carefully chosen activities that are always accessible, attractive, safe, and geared for a child’s success. Independence is nurtured through helping the child learn to care for him/herself by mastering practical life exercises. An eating area includes a place for the children to help with preparation of the food they will eat. This area provides sensory input and real experiences, with real tools for a real purpose. Lessons of “grace and courtesy” are practiced daily to help toddlers learn to share and be considerate of one another.
Children before age six have extraordinary powers of mind, possessing a once-in-a-lifetime ability to simply absorb equally all information and concepts from the surroundings. In a primary environment, we support his natural drive for independence by encouraging a conscious choice of activities based on the child’s interest.
There are four areas of learning: practical life, language, sensorial, and mathematics. Practical life activities allow the child to perfect the skills of caring for one’s own needs or for the classroom environment. Sensorial activities refine the child’s senses, so that that he can appreciate differences in quality such as color, volume, or texture, and organize his perceptions of the world. The language section is designed to enrich vocabulary and encourage writing and reading. The mathematics area provides concrete mathematical experiences that build on the child’s natural interest in counting and introduce an understanding of the decimal system and the processes of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. The scientifically designed Montessori materials provide a concrete experience towards understanding a new concept or mastering a skill through exploration.
Through “grace and courtesy” exercises, we teach children how to appropriately work through conflicts, and how to act politely in various situations. The result is a cohesive and self-aware community of young children.
The elementary child is entering a new period of his life, where he now strives for intellectual independence as he spontaneously develops new abilities of analysis, imagination, socialization, and creativity. It is a time of insatiable curiosity and excitement for learning.
The Montessori Elementary curriculum is only limited by a child’s imagination. The starting point for all courses of study is the “Great Lessons”; these impressionistic scientifically based stories are presented every year and give the students the “big picture” of the universe. The children pursue knowledge about everything in the universe including astronomy, earth science, biology, history and anthropology. They also study the effects of human beings on earth, such as social studies, language, math, music, and art.
Given children’s strong drive to be a member of a group and to collaborate, each child will practice the social skills necessary to plan and carry out his projects: delegation and division of labor, sharing resources, making group decisions, taking responsibility for actions, and celebrating the success of peers. A Montessori education fosters a feeling of connectedness to humanity and inspires the child’s natural desire to build positive relationships and make contributions to the world.