Our Philosophy

Montessori

A Montessori environment is a special place for the child to work on the building of the self. It is a prepared environment, containing materials and activities that stimulate the curiosity of children, allowing them to learn through discovery. The children are guided by their own interests and periods of readiness, choosing the activities spontaneously themselves. The activities enable them to attain skills, refine fine motor skills, build concentration and work towards becoming independent within their environment. The founder of the method, Dr. Maria Montessori, felt that young children learn by doing, and that they become self-disciplined by working on inviting and purposeful activities.

The materials accommodate children of different age levels, with various levels of ability. Younger children emulate the older ones, and are stimulated to work with more challenging activities. Ideally, the children who attend the program will do so for the full three years. It is in the third year of the Montessori preschool that we can see a cohesive fine-tuning of all the skills and new knowledge that has been learned from the indirect preparation of the first two years.

Introduction to the Montessori Method

The unique pedagogical philosophy set out by Dr. Maria Montessori aims for the fullest possible development of the human potential, as a preparation for life. Learning is a dynamic process, in which the whole personality of the child must be actively involved. In order to educate the WHOLE child, the child must have freedom to develop his or her physical, intellectual and spiritual powers to the fullest. Dr. Montessori realized that the only valid impulse to learning is the natural self-motivation of the child. The Directress prepares the environment, functions as a guide and offers the child stimulation - but it is the child who learns and who is motivated through the work itself.

Sensitive Periods

The Montessori method follows the natural planes of development, and builds upon "sensitive periods" of reception, which facilitate learning. They are periods of development during which a child is particularly sensitive to a specific stimulus, i.e. refining of the senses, developing language, satisfying the sense of order etc. The certain stages when the children have an aptitude for learning specific skills later fades and disappears, and it becomes increasingly challenging to learn the same things.

Language

Using concrete sandpaper representations of letters, the children learn through touch to connect the sounds of the alphabet and their corresponding symbols. Exercises with the Moveable Alphabet involve a child in building words and sentences from the sounds, allowing the child to freely express ideas. The child’s vocabulary and the language expand with the knowledge the classroom. All areas have classified cards, which help a child build and expand that vocabulary. The child is now ready to explore the interpretive and mechanical side of language, the reading stage. We work with reading cards, phonograms and puzzle words. Function games give a child a deeper understanding of the uses of words and their relationship to each other. The children in the classroom have a library to widen their vocabulary and help expand creative and imaginative powers. This is so essential for good compositions later on.

Sensorial Activities

Dr. Montessori recognized that children gather their first knowledge of the world through the senses. Though the child absorbs much information from his perceptions, it is necessary to provide the correct stimulus to aid him in the fullest possible way in order to develop his discriminatory powers. The Sensorial materials are especially designed to train the senses separately. They are divided into seven groups:

  • visual sense (Pink Tower etc.)
  • tactile sense (Touch Boards etc.)
  • auditory sense (Sound Boxes etc.)
  • gustatory sense (Tasting Cups etc.)
  • olfactory sense (Smelling Bottles etc.)
  • thermic sense (Thermic Bottles etc.)
  • stereognostic sense (Stereognostic Bags etc.)

The Sensorial work helps to bring order to the child’s perceptions by isolating the various qualities. The child will, for example, gain a mental understanding of large-small by exploring the Pink Tower. He or she learns, through physical manipulation of the materials, the concepts of large, small, heavy, light, thick, thin, loud, soft, shapes and smells etc. The Sensorial activities are the keys to the World and form the basis of abstract thinking.

Mathematics

Mathematics is abstract, and thus can present great difficulty if basic concepts are poorly learned. The mathematics materials presented in the Montessori classroom are designed for "hands-on" exploration. By manipulating simple objects such as rods, spindles, beads and number cards, the concepts of quantity and number-symbols are acquired with ease. Through 3-D beads, ten-bars, hundred-squares and thousand-cubes, we learn the basis for the decimal system. Via concrete manipulation, children experience combining, taking away, combining numbers several times, and sharing beads and are thus introduced to the four basic processes of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. The start is very concrete and, as we go along the progression of activities, we move on to more abstract ideas. The great advantage of going through the full Montessori Math program, is that a child may progress through series of mathematics materials in clear, simple steps, until reaching abstraction, dealing with figures alone, and completely working the processes in his or her head.

Culture

Geography: The Montessori classroom offers the child the opportunity to explore the world of geography through work with the globes, puzzle maps, land & water form models and geology. The child is able to see and understand the world, the continents and to gain a better understanding of the part of the globe in which he lives.

Science: The children are introduced to some basic phenomena and simple experiments of how things work. We explore the compass, the magnet, the electric circuit, magnifying glasses etc.

Music: Incorporated into the daily program, are many musical activities in a Montessori setting; songs, rhymes, poems, listening exercises and rhythm instruments. Musical bells, where children work with perfect pitch bells, learn to understand basic notes and eventually compose their own music. There are classified pictures of famous composers, (their compositions on tape) and musical instruments wherewe explore these both visually and by listening.

Botany: The children enthusiastically take care of plants in the classroom, learning how to water and feed them. The children plant seeds and bulbs in the garden, and experience the thrill of watching the fruits of their labors grow. We introduce the names of plants and their different parts, starting with general terms and leading to the specific. We also explore different leaf shapes and their names.

Zoology: There are classified cards of wild animals, farm animals and other groups in the classroom. We learn the different families and explore their natural habitat. We learn about different groups and the names of the parts of these animals. In both areas of botany and zoology, we try to nurture a respect for all living things, and to develop a sense of wonder in life’s many different manifestations.

Parent Library

We have a fairly extensive parent library, with books about Montessori as well as about general child development. You are welcome to sign out and borrow books at any time.

READING LIST - you can borrow these examples from us, or from the local library:

  • THE ABSORBENT MIND by Maria Montessori
  • THE SECRET OF CHILDHOOD by Maria Montessori
  • MARIA MONTESSORI, HER LIFE AND WORK by E.M. Standing
  • TEACHING MONTESSORI IN THE HOME by Elizabeth G. Hainstock
  • MONTESSORI -A MODERN APPROACH by Paula Polk Lillard
  • MONTESSORI AND YOUR CHILD by Terry Malloy