Curriculum

Practical Life

Practical Life activities help a child to develop concentration, coordination, independence and order. As a result, children will grow in their motor skills, cognitive development, and self confidence.

These activities not only teach physical skills but also are designed to develop:

  • muscle control and coordination
  • a sense of order through working in a definite sequence
  • an understanding through control of the environment resulting in a sense of dignity, self-confidence, and a joy in completing tasks
  • concentration and persistence through focusing of attention on work, thus allowing independence and self-reliance to be achieved.
  • the procedure for choosing work after a lesson has been placed on the shelf and returning materials to their proper place on the shelves.
  • Respect for others, respect for the self and respect for the environment.

Sensorial

Sensorial materials address the young child’s Sensitive Period* for order, small objects, refinement of senses, writing, language, and spatial relationships. Materials in the Sensorial area:

  • Guide the child from a hands-on, very concrete world to one that gradually becomes more abstract.
  • Help the child distinguish and classify by dimension, form, color, shape, smell, sound, texture, and weight.
  • Build a foundation for mathematics. For example, the red rods are a precursor to the red and blue number rods and the constructive triangles provide a foundation for geometry.

A Sensitive Period is a period of time in a child’s life when he is absorbed with one characteristic of his environment. During this time a child exhibits interest in repeating certain activities and the child’s inner-self dictates when the child is ready to move on. Once the Sensitive Period is over it is over for good and is replaced by another interest in a new activity. Sensitive Periods include: order, movement, small objects, grace and courtesy, refinement of the senses, writing, reading, language, spatial relationships, music and mathematics. Recognition of each child’s Sensitive Periods is a hallmark of Montessori education.

Language

The development of language in early-childhood classrooms is an umbrella for the entire Montessori curriculum. Language learning occurs most profoundly in the moment-to-moment life of interactions within the classroom. Children learn to listen, speak, and later to write and read. A balanced environment, one that is open yet not chaotic or inappropriate, is the most conducive to language learning. Activities related to the development of early-literacy skills greet young children when they visit the language area of a Montessori classroom. These activities include opportunities for young children to expand vocabulary, listen carefully to common sounds, and look carefully to find likenesses and differences among objects and pictures. Matching sets of objects, learning the names of household tools, unusual fruits and vegetables and geometric shapes are other activities which build language and early literacy skills and will be found in a Montessori classroom. Dr. Maria Montessori personally developed only three language materials for the early childhood classroom: the metal insets, the sandpaper letters, and the moveable alphabet. However, they have proven astoundingly effective. In fact, educators outside of Montessori have recognized the effectiveness of these materials and have created similar activities now being used in a variety of early-childhood settings.

In Montessori classrooms, teachers incorporate both phonetic and whole-word strategies. To meet the needs of all children, teachers need to use a variety of strategies.

The language area contains many learning opportunities such as:

  • Learning the shapes and sounds of the letters
  • Perfecting the fine motor skills for writing
  • Vocabulary development
  • Matching of words and pictures
  • Reading silently
  • Reading development-reading word lists, sentences, stories
  • Parts of speech-word games with nouns, verbs and adjectives

Math

The Montessori child is introduced to the required skills for mathematics by many aspects of both the practical life and the sensorial activities. In following the 3-year cycle of work, students progress from using hands-on concrete materials, to mastering more abstract concepts. There are five main categories of mathematical concepts

  • Introduction to Numbers: Children begin to associate symbol and quantity, begin to under sequence and concepts such as even and odd.
  • Decimal System: Children learn the names of decimal categories (units, tens, hundreds and thousands).
  • Operations: Children learn addition, multiplication, subtraction and division through the use of golden bead and other materials.
  • Linear Counting: Materials (including the 100 board and bead cabinet) reinforce linear counting to 1000, skip counting, and multiplication.
  • Memory Work: Children use materials such as finger charts, bead boards and strip boards to reinforce memorization of addition and multiplication facts.