The basic idea that inspired Maria Montessori’s work was that a child is a body that grows, and a soul, which develops. In keeping with her principles, Dr. Montessori began by creating an environment in which children could have physical freedom. In her school, children would work solely for the job of creative activity.
To make possible this creative activity she prepared the environment, providing the children with sets of didactic materials. Classrooms are equipped with a multitude of hands-on learning materials. These materials range from very easy to challenging, allowing the child to progress at a pace naturally suited to the development level of the child. The variety of materials is like a treasure chest waiting to be discovered by each child. Because the child’s activities are very important to him, Montessorians call the activities “work” or “jobs.”
FIVE KEY AREAS
of a Montessori classroom
The child learns skills involving coordination and control of eye-hand movements. The child learns independence and gains confidence in doing things for him or herself. Pouring, scooping, cutting, sweeping, learning to dress oneself, care of the environment and obtaining grace and courtesy.
Sensorial excercises are directed toward the child for him to discover the world through the use of the five senses. Using specialized Montessori materials the child will learn to discriminate between shapes, sizes and textures of various objects. Montessori Sensorial work helps build a foundation for language works and fosters imagination.
Begining with concrete concepts such as association of tangible quantities of each number symbol and materials developed by Maria Montessori; spindle boxes, bead stair and other 1-10 counting activities, the child progresses at his own pace into more abstract thought. Concepts are built upon gradually as the child gains and reinforces his basic understanding of the quantities involved.
Because language is an intrical involvement to the process of thinking the child will need to be spoken to and listened to often. Vocabulary is enriched in a number of ways. Precise names are used for all of the objects. Vocabulary classification and matching excercises develop visual perception. Reading stories and role-playing encourages the child’s imagination. Children progress at their own pace as they learn to write their name, learn phonetic letter sounds and recognize the name of each 26 letters of the alphabet. The child is encouraged to communicate with others and express ideas and thoughts freely.
This area introduces the child to a variety of subjects. Botany, zoology, geography and care of the world. History, art and music are also included. The child will gradually learn to perceive him or herself as a part of something greater. Through the use of his hands, the child learns movement and coordination. Through the use of his body and senses, he learns to understand the world around him. Maria Montessori taught and believed that the key to successful education lies in “Freedom Within Structure.”