Language & Literacy
Montessori perceived the miracle of language development as “a treasure prepared in the unconscious, which is then handed over to consciousness, and the child, in full possession of his new power, talks and talks without cessation.” Absorbing and perfecting language depends on human contact, but the language is not taught. Words are the labels for our experiences. A child who has varied experiences and is given the words for those experiences will develop a well-rounded means of expression.
Give children as many real, hands-on experiences as possible before introducing abstract concepts like naming and classification. With a concrete experience “in hand,” Montessori children are inspired to learn everything about everything! Observing classroom plants and animals is a natural way to explore the world. Float-and-sink will whet their appetite for more hands-on physical science! With the right presentation, access to materials, and an opportunity for follow-up research, children will begin to comprehend the laws of physics and even the nature of the universe.
All of their work with the Practical Life and Sensorial materials brings order to children’s experiences, important indirect preparation for the mathematical mind. The developing child yearns to organize, classify, and abstract. Fortunately, the whole world obliges with toes to count, temperatures to read, rain to gauge, and clocks to check. The Montessori math lessons lead the child through progressive hands-on activities, emphasizing concepts while preparing the child for abstractions. The extensions and variations we offer to complement and support work with Montessori’s legendary math materials.
Children from birth to age six are in their “sensitive period” for exploring the world through their senses. Maria Montessori encouraged us to provide children with many opportunities to organize the sensory impressions they’ve been receiving since birth. By your careful selection of items of different textures, colors, sizes, and geometric shapes, children will discover relationships and exclaim, “This bolt is a hexagon,” or “This cloth is rough.” Sensorial experiences also indirectly prepare children for future exploration of language, mathematics, geometry, art, and music.
Geography & Culture
Geography is the study of place and how humans have adapted to all of Earth’s environments. Physical geography looks at the outward appearance of the environment. Cultural geography looks at what Maria Montessori called humankind’s ability to “continue the work of creation.” Through meeting the basic human needs for food, shelter; and clothing, groups of people developed language, tools, transportation, rituals and celebrations, religion, music, art, and crafts.
The exercises of Practical Life provide the foundation for all other activities in the Montessori classroom, fulfilling the child’s plea: “Help me to do it myself!” Through exercises in daily living, such as pouring and scrubbing, sewing and gardening, or practicing grace and courtesy, the child gains confidence and mastery of the environment, After individual skills are refined, children apply them in purposeful work, such as serving juice or polishing. Specifically, these activities contribute to the control and coordination of movement, development of concentration, and the self-esteem.
Art, like language or music, is a means of expression. Opportunities for art should always be a part of the classroom environment and not a special event. When children are able to choose art materials freely, they feel respected and satisfied with their abilities. The adult can help children prepare for art indirectly—through the varied activities of Practical Life and the exploration of the senses—and directly—by presenting materials and techniques carefully, and by encouraging without judgment.
Browse Books! Montessori spoke of children having “explosions” into reading and writing. After children in a Montessori classroom learn all the sounds of letters with the Sandpaper Letters and have extensive practice making words with the Movable Alphabet, they will spontaneously synthesize what they know, and—to their own delight!—they can read. With books that pique their interests, children will become fluent readers almost effortlessly.
Sometimes called “the universal language”, music adds a sensory dimension to life like nothing else. Children have an innate capacity to appreciate music of all types, and an uninhibited inclination to move, dance, and make music. Music is present in all cultures, often reflecting the character of a people by the style, melodies, tones, and instruments used. With music or without, provide children with plenty of opportunities to perfect their movements and refine coordination.