"The child can only develop by means of experience in his environment. We call such experience work." Maria Montessori
Montessori Activity Areas
The activities in Practical Life appear to be mere imaginary play, mimicking the domestic work of parents. Yet, it is this area which is considered the cornerstone of the Montessori environment. The child engages in activities of daily living: spooning, pouring, washing and sewing. The child's work fosters independence in the care of self, as well as developing and awareness of balance and coordination. Indirectly, these activities prepare the child of reading and writing. For example, when transferring water with an eyedropper, the pincer grasp for holding a pencil is being developed.
As a result, the child who spends a significant time in Practical Life is well prepared for a lifetime of learning.
Each exercise in the Sensorial area has isolated a particular concept (dimension, form, color weight, etc.) on which the child will focus his attention. The materials are unique in that the child must utilize one or more of his senses to complete each activity. For example, the Pink Tower is composed of ten graduated cubes. The child carefully carries one cube at a time to his work rug. As the child carries each cube, he will get a strong impression of size and weight. Additionally, often quite by accident, the child explores the Laws of Physics as a tower tumbles down when a large cube is placed on top of a smaller cube.
The sensorial area, rich in stimuli, naturally draws the child to it. What appears to be child's play is really a lesson in perceptual judgment, cause and effect and analytical thinking.
Learning math comes more easily to the young child when they are given concrete materials to manipulate. The Montessori child uses tangible learning materials (cubes, stones, beads) to internalize and understand the meaning of numbers. Early on, he can feel ten is a much larger number than one. Gradually, the materials progress from concrete to abstract. The child develops a sound foundation in numbers, leading him to operational equations, the decimal system (place value) and geometry.
Like all learning in the Montessori environment, the child prepares for reading and writing through her visual, auditory and muscular skills.
A set of metal tracing templates develops the fine motor skills necessary for using a pencil with purposeful direction and control. There are sandpaper letters for the child to trace with her fingers, thereby putting the letter form into muscle memory. The child is also introduced to the letter sound at the same time. This gives the child a visual and auditory experience with letters thereby preparing her for writing and reading.
The manner in which language is introduced to the child confirms Montessori's belief in the significance of movement in the development of the intellect.
Cultural Areas of Geography and Science
Additional activities are presented to the child so they may develop an awareness of the world in which we live. Notable land forms, the people and animals of each continent are explored.
The teachers supplement the curriculum with their own areas of interest enhancing the child's experiences with music, art, basic Spanish vocabulary and other cross-cultural presentations.