Believe in the child
How does learning happen in a Montessori class.
Montessori is an education for life, a philosophy. Most importantly Montessori is a method of education that is based on a profound respect for the well-being of each child.
Montessori emphasizes the potential of the young child, by utilizing special teaching materials and specially trained teachers. The Montessori materials awaken the child’s desire to learn and channel his/her curiosity into a learning experience. The materials (games/toys) help the child learn different concepts by associating abstract concepts with concrete sensorial impressions. In the Montessori system, the child learns and progresses at his/her own pace according to his/her own abilities. This philosophy and the freedom, that accompanies it, allow the child to choose the exercises he/she wishes to work on; the directress closely monitors these choices and provides the required help when needed. The true value of the Montessori program becomes apparent through the development of self-discipline, self-mastery and a love of learning. In a Montessori environment it is important to look at all aspects of the child’s development: physical, intellectual and spiritual. By nurturing the healthy development of all aspects of each child’s development we support their growing sense of self and the child learns to belong and adapt to his environment.
In a Montessori school parents are encouraged to attend regular Montessori presentation. This solidifies the bond between; children, families and educators to ensure everyone are working towards one common goal …the well-being and healthy development of each child.
The Montessori classroom offers a wide variety of unique educational didactic materials. (Self-teaching aid) The goal of these is an internal one to aid the child’s mental development and self-construction. The material provides a stimulus that captures the child’s attention, imagination and initiates a process of concentration. The child uses these apparatus to develop his co-ordination, attention to details and good work habits. The young child begins by doing simple exercises that he or she will enjoy. The exercises that the child will do starting at 1.5 to 4 years of age will help develop concentration, co-ordination and work habits necessary for the more advanced exercises he or she will undertake at 5 and 6 years of age. It is because of this progression in the material that our children are capable of such great academic achievements.
The Montessori directress acts as a guide in a Montessori class. She/he is a facilitator in the classic sense of that word. Dr. Montessori believed that children are capable of discovery and it is that thrill of discovery which leads to all sorts of creative enterprise. The class directress prepares the classroom carefully by being sensitive to each child’s needs, considering the planes of development. Most lessons are given individually to the children. The time when a new exercise is presented is based upon careful observation by the directress and in respect to each child’s progress. After completing the toddler program (1.5 to 3) a child enters the casa class and stays in the same Casa Montessori class for 3 years.
The Montessori prepared classroom is one of the key elements to provide a good learning experience to the young child. In all of these areas of the Montessori class, communication is fostered and encouraged. The Montessori class is like a micro society where you have to learn to live together and be respectful of one another.
Orleans Montessori Children’s House (OMCH) is very involved in our community. We make regular visits to the local library and the Cumberland Heritage museum. We invite local artists, firefighters and police officers to give presentations at our school. We also rent the Cumberland hall semi-annually for our graduation and Christmas party, where we host a silent auction to help raise money for the local food bank.
At OMCH each child has a personal booklet where teachers keep track of their observations on the child’s development and progress. Parent-teacher meetings – which occur two-three times per year -ensure that we update parents on their child’s progress.
The school directress plans regular staff meetings – professional development (PD) days – does observations and meets staff members individually for evaluations to ensure that all staff follow the guidelines set out in our program statement and abides by the policies and regulations of the school. Every staff member is also expected to attend the parent evening lectures through the year. The purpose of these lectures is to give parents a better understanding of our program. If a staff member has difficulty following the guidelines set in the program statement different options will be proposed before the withdrawal of that staff member.
For example: Meeting with school directress, mentorship with other staff member, further training.
OMCH staff is encouraged to attend regular professional development conferences and lectures to better their understanding of child development and Montessori philosophy. At OMCH, we value our staff and we put every effort into creating a wonderful work environment.
In the Toddler program, we encourage respect and care by fostering independence, language development, vocabulary, positive self-esteem. We also provide many opportunities for the child to develop their motor abilities.
The main teacher uses different tools to encourage positive relationships to develop between the staff and the children and also between the children themselves. Tools like: close observation, taking notes and evaluation. The main teacher guides the young child towards the appropriate activities to keep the interest of the child while challenging him.
In the toddler class we respect different culture and we nurture this experience with songs, stories and activities.
Our program’s aim is to help the child develop good social skills as well as looking after his cognitive, physical, emotional development. Our practical life activities which are daily real life activities like washing a table, dusting, etc… engage the child in various exercises to develop independence, respect for the material, care for the environment, eye hand coordination , gross motor skills and concentration.
Finally, we work closely with the parents. A healthy relationship with the parents and good communication are the keys to make the toddler class a success.
The casa environment is divided into five basic areas: practical life, sensorial, language, mathematics and cultural.
In the practical life area the young child works with exercises that develop his concentration, fine motor skills and co-ordination. These activities also give him the opportunity to develop independence, proper grace and courtesy etiquette and good work habits. (eg: pouring, sweeping, table washing, hand washing, dressing frames, …) The purpose of these exercises is to develop concentration and the attention to details as the child follows a regular sequence of actions finishing each task and putting away the material before moving on to the next exercise. These activities help the child: develop his independence by learning how to get dressed by himself
(dressing frames) , take care of himself ( washing hands), take care of his environment
(washing a table) and also proper etiquette (greetings in the morning, thanking someone for a compliment). These grace and courtesy exercises cultivate authentic, caring relationships and connections to his environment to create a sense a belonging among and between the children and the adults and the world around them.
The sensorial exercises in the Montessori classroom are designed to sharpen the senses of the young child. The child at this level of development learns through hands on experience with the concrete material and all information he receives in his intellect is via the senses. The Montessori sensorial material helps the child to distinguish, to categorize and to relate to the new information that he or she is receiving. The child finds a sense of order in this material and acquires the joy of learning when there is order in his/her environment. By sharpening the child’s senses he or she will be better equipped to understand the world around them and feel they belong.
The Language area is a very important part our curriculum. Songs, finger plays, storytelling, book reading, encouraging communication and oral expression throughout the day all help foster communication and expression. A lot of time is spent in the beginning doing different oral language games to make the child aware of the different sounds of our language. Once the child is aware of the different sounds of his language we then introduce our sandpaper letters. Tracing the sandpaper letters helps the child connect the sound with the symbol. After the child can recognize a good number of letters he or she can use the moveable alphabet (series of cut out letters) to spell different words. These activities serve as a preparation for writing and reading.
The Montessori material for mathematics lays down a strong foundation for numbers. The concept of quantity, the symbols for the numbers 1 to 10 and the decimal system are all introduced at this young age. The child in Montessori learns many different abstract mathematic concepts through the help of concrete material. The exercises presented teach the child how to calculate but furthermore, provide him with the deep understanding of how numbers function.
The last area is the cultural area. Montessori introduces geography, biology, geology, history, to the children of 2.6 to 6 years of age because at this age the children can joyfully absorb many difficult concepts if they see them in a concrete form. Furthermore, the cement which binds all of Dr. Montessori’s work together is the notion that children must make the world a better place when they become adults. World peace was her cherished goal. Montessori maps should be in evidence as children learn from the earliest age that there is a world outside their school walls. A strong cultural emphasis is a must in a Montessori school. By giving the world to the young child they better develop a sense of belonging to the world around them.
In a Montessori class you will also find an area provided for different arts and craft activities, a music shelf and a quiet corner. A few reproductions of famous artists and a good selection of classical music provide opportunities for the child to develop his/her artistic and aesthetic sense.
This rich Montessori environment provides many new experiences for the young child to engage in active, creative and meaningful exploration work (games) using our Montessori material. Through the manipulation of our material the child is given the opportunity to explore and inquire.