What is the Montessori Primary classroom?
The Montessori classroom serves children ages 3-6 and is designed to incorporate the kindergarten year. The Montessori learning environment educates the whole child, incorporating activities that promote social, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual growth. This is the age of the “absorbent mind”, a time when the child possesses an incredible power to learn just about anything with seemingly no effort. The young child’s need to learn through movement, imitation and interaction is respected and utilized in a home-like environment. During the work period each day, a trained Montessori guide gives individual and group lessons and children are free to select work that meets their individual learning needs.
By observing and understanding what appeals to children, Montessori guides fill the classroom with works that “call to the child” enticing them to learn without coercion. The freedom to choose work within the limits of the classroom results in an independent, joyful learner. The multi-age classroom allows children to learn at their own pace, learn from peers of different ages and build essential social and emotional skills. Curriculum materials accommodate both the accelerated learner and the child who needs extra time to master a skill.
Montessori materials in the Primary classroom are famous for introducing abstract concepts in concrete form, building a deep, intuitive foundation of language, math, and geometry skills. Even so, the real goal of a Montessori Primary class is not academics, but rather the growth of Concentration, Coordination, Independence and Order in the child.
Children have access to a wide range of Practical Life activities that build real-world skills while developing concentration and ordered movement. The sensorial curriculum, unique to Montessori education, refines the child’s developing senses through materials that encourage open-ended exploration. Art, Music, Culture, Botany, Zoology, Physical Education,and Peace Education are also a part of the classroom each day. We believe Montessori is a great fit for any child, but can be particularly helpful for children with unique learning styles.
What is Montessori at the Elementary level?
Between the ages of 6 and 12, children experience what Montessori called an “intellectual” period. These children are ready to use their imagination to begin learning about the whole world, near and far, past and present, microscopic and cosmological.
Within the Elementary classroom, unique Montessori materials still introduce abstract math and grammar concepts in concrete form, however the real heart of the curriculum is the series of Great Stories. These stories which range in subject from the formation of the universe to the development of language give children The Big Picture and spark their curiosity. Students are then free to find answers to their own questions, exploring an integrated curriculum guided by a Montessori certified teacher. A student might begin researching bugs which leads an exploration of native ecosystems which leads to an interest in the history of local Native Americans which leads to a study of American literature which leads to an interest in government which leads to an inquiry into Greek Revival architecture which leads to an interest in physics. As this inquiry-led process nourishes the child’s individual love of learning, students also build the “soft skills” so important in today’s economy. Children work in groups, organize their own projects and field trips, resolve conflicts and connect to resources in their community. Children are also encouraged to adopt an attitudes of responsibility, environmental stewardship, and service to the community.
There is a lot of information available regarding Maria Montessori (the founder of the education method), the education method, schools and works. Here are some links to get you started understanding how Montessori works and why we believe it is an awesome way to educate our children.