Early childhood education has come to accept today what Maria Montessori discovered long ago: children under six have extraordinary powers of mind. They have a universal, once-in-a-lifetime ability to absorb knowledge from their surroundings just by living.
The Montessori preschool classroom is made up of children of mixed ages; three to six year olds all share the same classroom. In this multi-age setting, the children learn from each other, and they learn because of each other. Younger children benefit from the positive role-modeling of older children. Older children have the opportunity to reinforce their knowledge by sharing it with younger children.
Sometimes called "The Children's House," the Montessori preschool is a cozy, home-like setting, designed to protect and respect the child's rhythm of life. At any given moment in a Montessori classroom, there is a busy hum as children choose from a rich variety of developmentally appropriate activities. Calm, ordered and beautiful, the classroom materials and activities are organized in four distinct, yet integrated areas: practical life, sensorial, mathematics and language.
Materials and activities are attractively arranged on low, open shelves. The unique Montessori materials are designed to invite activity. There are bright arrays of solid geometric forms, knobbed puzzle maps, colored beads, and many beautiful baskets and boxes containing intriguing objects. Many of the Montessori materials are interrelated and build upon each other. Even later, in the elementary years, new aspects of the some of the same materials unfold. The children are given individual lessons with the materials, and they may choose what they like and use it as long as it holds their interest.
The Montessori practical life materials give children the opportunity to take part in the activities of daily life. With child-size tools that really work, the young child is able to perform the same activities he has seen adults do: watering plants, washing, sweeping, arranging flowers, and preparing food. Sensorial materials enable children to clarify, classify, and comprehend the multitude of sensorial impressions they take in from the world, this organizing a clear, accurate, logical foundation for learning.
Unique, hands-on materials for mathematics and language give young children the opportunity to explore these subjects from the concrete and tactile to the abstract.
In the Montessori tradition, there is little separation between the indoors and the outdoors. Sometimes nature is a part of the indoor environment through arranging flowers and caring for plants and classroom animals. Other times the children go out to explore and discover among the plants, animals and open sky. Outdoors, children are able to garden, collect leaves and identify trees, watch cloud formations, even find geometric shapes in shadows. The natural environment is an extension of our classroom, and the children delight in making connections between the two.
Studies have shown that children from Montessori preschools enter elementary school with curiosity, self-discipline, initiative, persistence, concentration, and a positive attitude toward school. Read more here about our Elementary experience.