The Montessori Matters curriculum caters for children up to 6 years. The children are in a prepared, ordered and safe environment where they are free to choose and learn at their own pace. There is no front or back to the classroom, nor do the children have particular desks or chairs. The materials are kept on low open shelves where there is intentionally only one of each piece of equipment. This encourages self-discipline, as each child must wait its turn and keep the materials in working order so their friends can use it after them.They are given the opportunity and responsibility of choosing their own work and over a period, the children develop into a kinship, working with high concentration and with few interruptions. The children learn to co-operate and interact successfully with other classmates and their teachers.
In Montessori the teaching goes from simple to complex, first introducing the topic gradually, as a whole, and then going into specific detail, always refining the information increasing the child’s knowledge. For example, in Culture the children first learn about the world and what it is made of, they then explore each continent, and then refine their learning to their own country. In Practical Life they start pouring pasta as it is easy to pour and easy to clean when it spills. When they have mastered this they move on to pouring rice which is smaller, heavier and harder to clean up. Followed by pouring water from one jug to another, pouring into equal containers, unequal containers and so on, always moving from the simple to the complex. Each child learns at their own pace, only moving to the next stage when they show the teacher they are ready for the next step. Most materials have a control of error allowing the child to self-correct building their confidence and self belief.
The Montessori work is taught to the children on a one-to-one with their allocated teacher at their own pace.
The Practical Life activities are the first activities introduced and allow your child to try to do what adults around him are seen to do every day. The Practical Life area of a classroom is an extension your child’s own home environment. Its aims are to develop his independence, intelligence, concentration, co-ordination, control, motor skills, social skills and self-discipline. The Practical Life exercises are broken down into four key areas:
1. Elementary Movements - develops the child’s manipulative skills and body co-ordination e.g. pouring, cutting, folding, threading
2. Care of the Person - teaches the child how to look after himself and his property e.g. putting on his coat, tying his shoelaces, folding his clothes
3. Care of the Environment - teaches the child tasks he will need and use within his environment e.g. dusting, tidying up, setting a table, cooking skills
4. Social Skills, Grace and Courtesy - teaches the child to understand his role in society and what kind of conduct is acceptable e.g. how to speak in a group, greetings
Sensorial exercises are for the development and refreshment of the child’s five senses, thereby sharpening his intellect and control preparing him for more advanced exercises in maths, language and geometry. The exercises give each child the vocabulary they need to start out with, words such as height, width, etc. The child then takes these words and uses them in his environment. The child completes one step at a time, progressively moving from simple to complex. Where possible, each sense is isolated to provide an intense experience.
Language is involved in every aspect of the Montessori environment from Practical Life to Sensorial but it is also introduced through a step-by-step programme starting with the Sandpaper Sounds. Each child will be introduced to sounds and words developing their reading and writing skills.
Culture is made up of History, Geography, Science, Nature and Fine Arts. The subjects develop each child’s individual skills, increase their vocabulary and reading skills, increase their knowledge, develop their physical skills, satisfy their senses, teach them changes and life cycles in life and nature, and teach them ecology and aspects of different cultures. Culture helps the child understand where he is in the world and the important contribution he has to offer.
Maths is introduced the child from the first day. It teaches them the study of form, quantity, numbers and relations. It allows him to understand analysis and clear reasoning. It teaches him to sort events into classes and categories and introduces awareness of relationships between classes and categories. Above all, it teaches logic.
Circle Time is where the child learns the skill of listening, concentration, turn taking and sitting for a set period of time (remember there is no set seating in Montessori and a child can freely wander around the classroom unlike school). Circle Time introduces the children to exciting topics on a weekly basis such as Our Teeth, Our Feelings, Our Manners, The Solar System, Life Cycles to name but a few. In addition to our weekly themes the children learn the calendar, songs and rhymes and have lots of fun learning their sounds and numbers. They start by learning a number each week from 1 to 10 and the the sounds a to z. Each sound will be taught using the phonic method helping the children along when learning sounds through their one-on-one Montessori work.