The Critical Early Childhood Years
“The first duty of an education is to stir up life, but leave it free to develop.” -Maria Montessori
Early childhood is now more commonly recognized for the crucial time in a child’s life. A time when basic attitudes are developed about learning, social matters and self. Each student acts much like a sponge, absorbing the influences of his/her environment. In order to be calm, happy and well-adjusted, students need to explore, discover, and touch. They need order in their universe and want to master the movements of their own bodies.
Learning in a Montessori Preschool and Primary Classroom
Because of the absorbent nature of this age group, the students do not need teacher based education in order to learn. Rather, they need to be able to move, touch, explore and learn from purposeful activity under trained teacher guidance and support. For students under six, amazing levels of learning are accomplished by being surrounded by a rich learning environment accompanied by aware educators who support and guide the development of a broad foundation of knowledge and learning. Students are given a safe, welcoming and nurturing learning environment that provides the necessary ingredients for them to thrive emotionally, socially and academically.
The Montessori classroom allows students to learn from one another as well as from teachers. Students are given responsibility for caring for themselves and for one another and the environment. Respect, Peace Education, Values and Character are all emphasized so students learn to interact with kindness, empathy, grace and courtesy.
Students are given further ownership of their environment by putting their work away as they complete it, caring for the plants and animals within as well as outside of the classroom environment, and taking part in daily set-up and clean-up routines. Taking ownership of the class environment builds pride in and ownership of the school experience and learning itself.
The classrooms are carefully prepared by the teachers to stimulate each student’s interest in all of the areas of his/her development. Environments are designed to facilitate and stimulate the students’ exploration and learning. Everything within the classroom is prepared specially for the students, from child-sized furniture and cleaning tools, to scientifically developed educational apparatus. Students’ movement and independent learning is accommodated and welcomed.
Our Preschool Montessori program is made up of children who are 2-3 years old. In the Montessori Primary classes children learn in the mixed age groups of three to six year old children. Their environments are divided into five main areas: Practical Life, Cultural (including science), Sensorial, Math and Language. The students move freely throughout the environment which is carefully prepared in order to attract the students and to maximize each individual student’s abilities, developing the student’s skills in all of the areas. Additional instruction complimenting the core curriculum, such as Peace Education, Language, Dance, Music, and Creative Arts, is regularly offered.