Maria Montessori created the Montessori method in the early 1900s. Dr. Montessori discovered that children teach themselves and each other. Her research led her to design a "prepared environment" where children choose from several developmentally appropriate activities.
Montessori emphasizes doing, rather than just sitting and listening. Children learn at their own pace, making learning an exciting process of discovery and leading to concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning itself. Children are free to move about the room to pick different activities, in any subject--math, language, science, history, geography, art, and music.
Teachers are versed in all subjects and trained to direct and oversee all the kids doing different activities at once. A Montessori teacher recognizes a child's readiness to learn and is a guide to him or her as the student pursues in interest or passion. The teacher uses individual or small-group lessons and a prepared environment to fuel the students' learning.
The program puts children in broader age brackets, according to learning styles and interests. Children focus from ages 3-6 on the concrete ideas of the world right in front of them, so they learn well together.
Around age 6, a child will start thinking about more abstract ideas (like "how did someone figure out that the sun is 93,000,000 miles away...?"). We watch for this jump in thinking, and then move them into the age 6-9 group. Children 9-12 also match up well for their learning style. For every student, our teachers are attentive to each child, facilitating her or his interests and learning needs.
The purpose of sensorial activities is to aid in the development of the intellectual senses of the child, which develops the ability to observe and compare with precision. There are sensorial materials that focus on visual perception, tactile impressions, auditory sense, and olfactory and taste perceptions. Activities often include matching and grading materials that isolate the sense of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.
Language materials are designed to enhance vocabulary and explore both written and spoken language. Through language-based activities, children learn phonetic sounds and how to compose words phonetically. They progress using materials to form their own work, to read the work of others, and learn to communicate their thoughts and feelings.
Cultural activities help the child explore art, music, and stories from the children's community, society and culture. Science, botany, geography, and zoology are also included in this area. A variety of maps, puzzles, and pictures from different countries help the child have an insight into various cultures. This encourages children to develop their potential for creation including developing excellent motor skills. Through cultural activities, children begin to have an appreciation of the world around them.
Practical Life exercises help children learn how to care for themselves and their environment. These actions support the child to become more independent, providing the ability to face new challenges and gain greater self-confidence. Practical Life exercises include lessons in courtesy, care for self, and care for the environment. The purpose of these exercises is to enhance coordination, concentration, independence, and indirectly prepare children for writing and reading. Activities often include cleaning, food preparation, and watering plants.
Mathematical concepts are introduced to the child using sensorial materials. Primary explorations with sensorial materials encourage children to understand basic math concepts such as learning number recognition, counting, and sequencing of numbers. This will prepare the child for a more formal introduction to mathematics, and the introduction of abstract mathematical concepts such as the decimal system and mathematical operations.