Maria Montessori based her teaching methods on a fundamental principle – the child must first understand before he/she can learn and remember. Children learn through actions (working with the materials) rather than simply receiving instructions. Each child is given as much time as they need to work with and understand the material. Each exercise has an inbuilt control of error so the child can self-correct. There are 5 main areas within the Montessori curriculum:
Young children find immense satisfaction in simple everyday tasks and learning skills that help them on the road to independence. The Practical Life exercises assist the child in acquiring self-help skills, encourage them to care for themselves and their environment and teach them the importance of courtesy and listening to each other.
The sensorial exercises give the child practice in working with all five senses and encourage exploration of concepts such as shape, size and dimension. Many of the exercises form the basis for later Mathematics work.
Working with the mathematics materials gives the child the opportunity to work out the answers through use of actual objects. The child moves from concrete to abstract; sums can be worked out through counting beads, etc. The Montessori approach to mathematics allows children to first understand and so to remember various mathematical concepts; there is no learning “off by heart”.
After initial work in building language skills and vocabulary, children are taught the sounds of the alphabet phonetically. In this way, children are enabled to begin to read independently as they can break down the component sounds and put them back together to make the word. Early writing skills are also practised.
Cultural and Environmental Studies
The geography, biology and history materials give the child a chance to explore the wonders of our world, the people and animals who inhabit it, the customs, traditions, cuisine and music to be found in it and where our place is in it all.