At Victoria Montessori, our program follows the Montessori Philosophy of child development. The Montessori approach aims to insure the natural development of the whole child, of his physical and emotional faculties, as well as his intellectual powers. The tasks available to the child in a Montessori-oriented class graduate from the simple to the complex, and the child is free to select work and proceed at his own pace. By learning in this way, the child gains the self-confidence necessary in the creation of competence.
The teacher is, first of all, an observer of the individual interests and needs of each child, and the daily work proceeds from observations, rather than from a prepared curriculum. The teacher demonstrates the correct use of materials, carefully watches the progress of each child, and keeps a record of his work with the materials. The teacher is trained to recognize periods of readiness. Sometimes diverting a child who chooses material that is beyond his ability; at other times encouraging a child who is hesitant. Whenever a child makes a mistake, the teacher refrains, if possible, from intervening, and allows the child to discover his own error through further manipulation of the self-correcting material. This procedure follows Dr. Montessori’s principle that a child learns through experience.
The Montessori classroom is an environment prepared for the child and is traditionally divided into four areas of activities. The child chooses activities in each area, according to his needs and interests.
The four areas of the Montessori classroom are:
Practical Life – The exercises of Practical Life provide the child with many opportunities for purposeful work and help each child in his journey towards independence.
All the exercises of Practical Life offer the child interesting and inviting activities, directing his energy to the performance of purposeful movements. They teach the child human skills and human behavior, but learning those skills is only an incidental fact. Through repeated practice, the child gains control over his body and coordination of movement. At the same time, since each activity requires the child’s attention and concentration on the movements of his hands and body, the child develops and strengthens the ability to focus his attention. The child’s gained ability to focus attention and attend to all the details of these exercises, with precision, becomes a part of his personality, and opens the door to intellectual growth and discoveries in other areas.
Thus, although the exercises of Practical Life appear to be simple, they have a very important role in the development of the child.
Sensorial – The sensorial materials are scientifically designed for the development of sensory perception. They are classified according to the qualities perceived by each sense. For example, through the sense of vision, we perceive dimensions, shapes, color, etc. The sensorial materials isolate each of these qualities, and help the child to understand the vast number of sensorial impressions he receives constantly from the world around him. They form an accurate and firm foundation for the child’s intellectual development, by helping him to acquire concepts that he will need in the areas of Mathematics, Sciences and abstract thinking.
Language – Through her observation of children, Dr. Montessori discovered that the young child has a natural sensitivity to language and a fascination for words, both spoken and written. The language activities expose the child to accurate use of language, clear pronunciation of words, correct structure of sentences and rich vocabulary. The language material provides the child with an opportunity to learn to read and write through enjoyable activities, while moving at his own pace, without pressure, and with a joy and love for learning.
Mathematics – The mathematical materials provide a concrete base for dealing with numbers, quantities, measurements – and the relationships between them. The child is able to touch and move concrete objects as he works with them. He does not simply learn the symbol for the numbers 1 or 1,000, but is actually able to hold a single bead or a cube containing 1,000 beads to represent these numerical abstracts. The activities progress gradually from simple to complex, and from concrete to abstract. This gives the child the satisfaction of learning by discovery, and helps him to develop a love for mathematics at an early age.
**Integrated into the above four areas are “cultural” subjects such as Geography, Botany and Zoology. These are not defined as separate areas, but they are an integral part of the daily program.
The Montessori classroom also provides an unmatched social environment for the child. There is a consistent interaction between the children as they work on their chosen materials. Each child has the choice of working on his own, or inviting another child to join in and work together. They are not allowed to interrupt another’s work, thus learning an important lesson about respecting the rights of others. The children are free to, and often do, help and teach each other.
The Montessori classroom offers many opportunities for the child to follow his natural curiosity and expand his knowledge, as well as develop into a confident, socially comfortable personality.
In conclusion, Victoria Montessori provides an environment in which children have the opportunity to:
- Progress socially and academically at their own pace
- Have the social advantages of a mixed-age learning experience
- Become more independent
- Gain self-esteem and a sense of achievement
- Become more focused and self-controlled
- Develop a long term love for learning without frustration
- Attain social graces
- Feel secure in their daily routine