Maria Montessori was an Italian physician, educator, and innovator, acclaimed for her educational method that builds on the way children naturally learn.
Montessori is a method of education that is based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play. In Montessori classrooms children make creative choices in their learning, while the classroom and the teacher offer age-appropriate activities to guide the process.
The Montessori Curriculum is an innovative learning framework that incorporates specific learning outcomes and knowledge skills that align with children’s developmental needs and interests. It is divided into five key areas of learning: practical life, sensorial, mathematics, language, and culture.
- Practical Life
Practical Life activities help children learn how to care for themselves and their environment. These activities help the child to become more independent, leading to greater self-confidence, and the ability to face new challenges. Practical Life exercises include lessons in grace and courtesy, care for self, and care for the environment. The purpose of these activities is to enhance co-ordination, concentration, independence, and indirectly prepare children for writing and reading. Activities often include cleaning, food preparation, polishing and watering plants.
Sensorial materials were designed by Doctor Maria Montessori to help children express and classify their sensory experiences. The purpose of sensorial activities is to aid in the development of the intellectual senses of the child, which develops the ability to observe and compare with precision. There are sensorial materials that focus on visual perception, tactile impressions, auditory sense, and olfactory and taste perceptions. Activities often include matching and grading materials that isolate the sense of sight, sound, touch, taste and smell.
Mathematical concepts are introduced to the child using concrete sensorial materials. Initial explorations with sensorial materials encourage children to understand basic maths concepts such as learning number recognition, counting and sequencing of numbers. Sensorial work prepares the child for a more formal introduction to mathematics, and the introduction of abstract mathematical concepts such as the decimal system and mathematical operations.
Montessori language materials are designed to enhance vocabulary and explore both written and spoken language. Phonics are taught before the names of the letters with sandpaper letters. By learning the 42 sounds, children learn how to compose words phonetically using the large moveable alphabet; progressing to blending and segmenting exercises where they begin their journey towards reading independently. They progress using concrete materials to compose their own written work, read the work of others, and learn to communicate their unique thoughts and feelings.
Cultural activities lead the child to experience music, stories, artwork and items from the child’s community, society and cultural background. The areas of geography, science, zoology and botany are all included in this area. A range of globes, puzzle maps and folders containing pictures from different countries all help to give the child an insight into different cultures. The culture area encourages children to develop their capacity for creation, and develop fine motor skills. Whilst learning to freely express themselves. Through cultural activities, children develop an awareness and appreciation of the world around them.