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Five Areas of the Montessori Classroom

Maria Montessori found that next to learning from their own experience, the child learns best from other children. Therefore she created a mixed age group where the younger children imitate older and older children reinforce leadership skills by sharing their knowledge with the younger children. Each classroom is scaled down to a child’s size and provides an enriching and stimulating environment.

Each classroom is comprised of the following five areas of learning:

1) Practical Life

These activities comprise of care of the person, caring for the environment and lessons in grace and courtesy.  These exercises include activities such as pouring, sorting, sewing buttons, carrot peeling, serving, mirror polishing and many other activities using real life objects in a child sized environment.  These activities encourage good work habits, increase concentration, independence, and develop coordination.  The Practical life activities prepare the child for all other subject areas of the classroom.

2) Sensorial

It is through the five senses that the sensorial materials prepare the child to sharpen their abilities in learning reading, writing and mathematics.  For example the child who has perceived the subtle differences of sounds in the sound cylinders will be more likely to perceive subtle differences in the phonetic sounds of letters.  The grasping of small knobs on equipment enables a child to gain control over the small finger muscles he will use for writing.   Using the senses to explore the diverse materials designed using variable dimension, color, shape, texture and smell, develops all faculties of intelligence.

3) Language

Language is explored phonetically in a Montessori classroom.  Initial alphabet sounds are first introduced through the sandpaper letters and matching objects.  After the children learn a few sounds, they are then introduced to blending exercises with the moveable alphabet.  […]

In the Neighbourhood: Pathway Montessori Preschool

While Nancy Graham was looking for a location to open her own private Montessori preschool, she heard that Mrs. Suleman, owner of the Teaching Tree Montessori Preschool in the Woodlands Village Mall, was retiring. The opportunity to acquire an established school was “perfect.” In July of 2005, Nancy opened Pathway Montessori Preschool, after purchasing the Teaching Tree’s assets, which included it’s Montessori teaching materials. Re-enrolment of a small core group of children in the fall meant an easier adjustment period for the children, Nancy and her staff.

“We have ages from 2½ to kindergarten in one room, and that’s part of the beauty of the Montessori philosophy – the older one help the younger ones,” Nancy said. Most often, she and her assistant, Paula Kruger, “circulate” amongst their mixed-age group of preschoolers, watching and guiding each one in the Montessori “lesson” of his or her choice, rather than from the front of the classroom. Exceptions are weekly music and French classes, as well as specified “carpet times,” when students sit together on a large carpet in the centre of the classroom and face the teacher.

As part of learning “practical life” skills, the children made macaroons and served them to their parents at their spring tea on May 12. Students have considerable freedom within the classroom but follow strict rules about putting things away and cleaning up after themselves.

“I don’t think I really enjoyed school that much myself when I was growing up,” Nancy volunteered as a probable explanation for her long-time interest in alternative ways of learning and teaching, including the Montessori Method. Both her children, Eldon, 10, and Alyse, 8, are Montessori preschool graduates. There was a time when all […]

Learning by Discovery

by Leslie Christianson-Kellow
for Neighbours Preschool

The first time Shari Couture volunteered in her older son’s class, she couldn’t believe what she saw.

The children were ”working” around the classroom, obviously engaged in their tasks. At a specific time, a group of children stopped what they were doing, tidied up their “work” and readied themselves for snack time.

Couture watched as the children each got their snack, ate in a timely fashion and then proceeded to clean up after themselves, including washing their own utensils. The amazing thing was that it all occurred without the teacher prompting or reminding them.

“When I saw them doing all of that on their own, I was like there’s no way my son is going to be able to do all that. He’s only five years old,” remembers Couture.

Three years later, she now has a child in preschool and a child in Grade 2, both following the Montessori method of learning. And she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Couture says her children are thriving and becoming a self-reliant individuals.

“They’re learning by discovery. Instead of being shovelled information that they might not understand, they discover main concepts and work with those concepts until they understand and grasp them.”

For example, says Couture, “When learning math, it’s very hands on.”

While working with materials like beads, young children might learn about multiplication tables, manipulating and exploring until they truly grasp the basic concept of the numbers.

“My son really gets what 10 times 10 is,” says Couture.

Who was Montessori? Maria Montessori is Italy’s first female doctor.

In the late 1800s she theorized that children displayed key windows of opportunity for learning, especially from birth to six years.

Using observation and guidance, she developed specific teaching methods that helped children become […]