What is “Montessori”?
The unique educational philosophy set out over ninety years ago by Dr. Maria Montessori aims to develop the child’s innate desire to learn. The child’s mind is extremely absorbent and his curiosity is at its peak during these early years.
Our program at Precious Seeds Montessori House is for children in the important early formative years of 2 ½ to six years. Montessori observed that the child passes through definite periods of sensitivity for acquiring knowledge and skills. The Montessori curriculum integrates these sensitive periods with the individual interests of the child. The classroom at Precious Seeds Montessori House is organized into the following areas:
Practical Life – enables the child to develop:
- fine motor control
Sensorial – enables the child to:
- develop a sense of order
- discriminate and refine differences in all five senses
- prepare for language and math
Language – the children practice:
- letter sounds
Math – we focus on:
- number concepts
- time and money
Other areas of curriculum:
Culture –This is an important part of our curriculum and includes: geography, Science and nature, and cultural awareness.
Virtues – We will focus on one virtue monthly as part of group lessons. Virtues education is as part of our day-to-day interactions as well.
Music - Our Music program is directed by a professional music teacher. In addition, music is also an integral part of the classroom. Circle time is often used for songs.
Yoga – Our Yoga program is directed by a professional yoga instructor.
Art and crafts - Arts and crafts materials are always available in the classroom.
Outside time – Children will be given the opportunity to play outdoors daily promoting large motor development and social development.
A Three Year Age Span
Precious Seeds classes are organized to encompass a three year age span, which allows younger student to experience the daily stimulation of older role models, who in turn blossom in the responsibilities of leadership. Students not only learn “with” each other, but “from” each other.
Some parents worry that having younger children in the same class as older ones will leave one group or the other short changed. They fear that the younger children will absorb the teachers’ time and attention, or that the importance of covering the “kindergarten” curriculum for the five-year-olds will prevent teachers from giving the three and four-year-olds the emotional support and stimulation that they need. Both concerns are understandable, and easily addressed.
Working in one class for two or three years allows students to develop a strong sense of community with their classmates and teachers. The age range also allows accelerated learners the stimulation of intellectual peers. At each level within Precious Seeds, the curriculum and methods are logical and consistent extensions of what has come before.
Meeting the Needs of So Many Different Children
The role of the teachers at Precious Seeds is that of facilitators and guides. The teacher is usually not the center of attention and will not normally spend much time working with the whole class at once. Her role centers around reviewing the progress and needs of each individual child on a daily basis, and preparing and organizing appropriate learning materials to meet the needs and interests of each child Precious Seeds emphasizes hands-on discovery-based learning. Our students are challenged to compete against themselves, rather than each other.
The Classroom Materials – From the Concrete to the Abstract
The basis of our approach is the simple observation that children learn most effectively through direct experience and the process of investigation and discovery. In her studies of children’s learning, Dr. Maria Montessori noted that most children do not learn by memorizing what they hear from their teachers or read in a text, but rather from concrete experience and direct interaction with the environment. Asking a child to sit back and watch us perform a process or experiment is like asking a one-year-old not to put everything in his mouth. Children need to manipulate and explore everything that catches their interest.
This led Dr. Montessori to emphasize the overriding importance of concrete learning apparatus and to the development of materials for mathematics, sensory development, language, science, history and geography.
The learning materials are not the method itself, but rather tools that we use to stimulate the child into logical thought and discovery. They are provocative and simple, each carefully designed to appeal to children at a given level of development.
Each material isolates and teaches one thing or is used to present one skill at a time, as the child is ready. Dr. Montessori carefully analyzed the skills and concepts involved in each subject and noted the sequence in which children most easily master them.
To facilitate the prepared order of the environment, the teacher arranges the materials on the shelf following their sequence in the curriculum. The materials are displayed on low open shelves that are easily accessible to even the youngest children. They are arranged to provide maximum appeal without clutter. Each has a specific place on the shelves, arranged from the upper-left-hand corner in sequence to the lower right. Materials are always arranged in sequence, from the most simple to the most complex, and from the most concrete to those that are the most abstract.