Washing, sweeping, dusting, slicing apples, preparing lemon water, window washing, buttoning, tying shoe laces… household activities are familiar to children through everyday life. In our environment, children practice these activities using materials tailored to their size so they are able to manipulate each piece comfortably. By working in this area, children gain essential life skills, which helps build their independence and self-esteem. In addition, these activities help children refine their movement coordination and develop powers of concentration, abilities essential for their future learning.
Among the interests of the child from age two to six are experiences that involve his senses in his exploration of his environment. The child is able to exercise, discriminate, and learn the vocabulary which corresponds to his sensorial experiences. These tools of life afford the child the ability to form his frame of reference with which he can classify those inputs to his senses and allow greater opportunity to be successful in all other fields.
The young child is receptive to language in all forms: spoken, written, music, art, as well as mathematics. Our first emphasis is on spoken language development. We provide a rich language environment by modeling proper, precise, and grammatically correct spoken languages in English, French and Spanish , and providing daily opportunities of telling stories, reading books, as well as having day-to-day conversations. In such an environment, children’s love for language is cultivated. Writing and reading then come very naturally as pleasant experiences for children.
Every child’s innate mathematical potential is fostered by the unique approach of Montessori education. Mathematical concepts are first introduced in a concrete form. Working with the concrete materials builds a solid foundation of children’s understanding and prepares them to gradually understand abstract concepts. Children of this age are able to carry out the basic numerical operations with understanding. They work happily with large quantities, fractions, geometry, and powers of and roots of numbers, concepts conventionally considered too advanced for the young mind.
We use simple science experiences to introduce and illustrate the phenomenas that are observed in nature. For example, experiments dealing with evaporation and condensation lead to an understanding of the rain cycle. Other scientific experiments form the basis for the study of biology, botany, geography and geology as well as physics and chemistry. These sciences are not taught simply for their implicit value; they are taught to give the child knowledge and thereby respect for the life around him.
Our approach to art starts with the understanding that art is a way of self-expression. Therefore, we do not directly “teach” art. Rather, we prepare children physically as well as intellectually to freely express themselves. Practical Life activities as well as certain Sensorial materials help prepare the hand so that the child acquires the fine motor skills necessary for artistic expression. We provide quality artistic tools and introduce the materials with a focus on the techniques and not on the final product. The goal is to offer keys to exploration and discovery, rather than to impress others.
Music is very much alive in our environment, from singing and listening to songs, playing rhythm activities, to experiencing various musical instruments. The most captivating of all, the bells, is a set of elegant material in the Montessori environment. As children work with the bells, which produce beautiful and precise sounds, their auditory sense in terms of discriminating pitch is refined. They also learn the order and pattern of music, which aides their mathematical minds. Gradually, children learn the names of the notes, and start to creatively express themselves.