Montessori education is fundamentally a model of human development and an educational approach based on that model. The model has two basic principles. First, children and developing adults engage in psychological self-construction by means of interaction with their environments. Second, children, especially under the age of six, have an innate path of psychological development. Based on her observations, Montessori believed that children at liberty to choose and act freely within an environment prepared according to her model would act spontaneously for optimal development.
the Montessori approach, these human tendencies are seen as driving behaviour in every stage of development, and education should respond to and facilitate their expression.
Montessori’s education method called for free activity within a “prepared environment”, meaning an educational environment tailored to basic human characteristics, to the specific characteristics of children at different ages, and to the individual personalities of each child. The function of the environment is to help and allow the child to develop independence in all areas according to his or her inner psychological directives.
In addition to offering access to the Montessori materials appropriate to the age of the children, the environment should exhibit the following characteristics:
- An arrangement that facilitates movement and activity
- Beauty and harmony, cleanliness of environment
- Construction in proportion to the child and her/his needs
- Limitation of materials, so that only material that supports the child’s development is included
- Nature in the classroom and outside of the classroom
Montessori Curriculum Areas
There are five major areas of curriculum in a Montessori environment that were discovered through Dr. Maria Montessori’s scientific observation of the natural tendencies children have toward learning. The curriculum areas are universal except for the Practical Life area, which is influenced by culture; for example, using a fork in South Africa to eat food is different to the use chopsticks in Japan. The four main areas of the Montessori curriculum are, Practical Life or Everyday Living Skills, Sensorial or learning through the senses, Language and Mathematics. The fifth curriculum area is Culture. The Montessori culture area includes Geography, Science, Music, Art and Religion.
Practical Life exercises help children find their place in their home by becoming involved in how their home works and how they can best function in their home. When children become involved in the workings of their home, it creates a great sense of pride and builds self-confidence. This sense of self-confidence will be imprinted in their being for future success.
The Sensorial materials and curriculum create a method of learning through the senses and an introduction to the Montessori Mathematics
The Language curriculum is phonetic in nature and utilizes games and powerful teaching tools to help children learn to decode phonetic words, high frequency/sight words, diphthongs and digraphs. It is powerful in promoting early reading and writing skills using a variety of games and activities.
The Montessori Mathematics program creates a concrete foundation of math skills that are invaluable for future learning. The Montessori Math materials cover recognition of math patterns, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, short and long, fraction work and skip counting.
The Culture curriculum provides a wide array of activities including learning about the continents of the world and their uniqueness such as animals and habitats. Montessori Culture activities include pictures of the places and people of the continents, books and flags of the world. Children learn the names of the continents, oceans and countries of the world. They learn through “hands-on” materials such as puzzle maps of the world.
Montessori Culture activities help to inspire a love of learning and offer children a new perspective of the world. Children’s eyes light up with the Montessori games and activities that explore far off lands, providing their imagination with more places to explore and countries to visit in the future.