The first six years of life are the most important for the educational development of a person. The foundations of a child’s entire personality are established during this period. After carefully studying many educational systems, the Peterson Schools chose the Montessori Method in English for Preschool as the most advantageous.
The Montessori Method is a system that was specially designed to carefully lead children in an individual manner through each stage of development at this crucial age. A child sees the world as large and confusing. Montessori allows the child to perceive order and structure, which will give him/her confidence and provide the foundation for future development in their own direction while promoting creativity, problem-solving, critical thinking and time management.
In the Montessori classroom, interactive learning develops in an environment that is carefully prepared by an educator who is specially trained use sophisticated materials to work with children at the Preschool level. In a classroom that is not segregated by age, where children of different ages can interact, each child chooses the activity he/she will carry out under the careful supervision of their guide and in accordance with their individual learning plan. Each activity is based on prior materials and activities that guide the child to higher levels of comprehension and mastery. A child should begin the Montessori program at age three to get the most benefit from it. At this age, children have a strong desire to learn. It is most important to make this learning useful as this will help create order in the child’s mind. In the Montessori Preschool, a child develops practical and individual skills through discovery, exploration and the use of materials in four major areas: Practical Life Situations, Sensory Development, Mathematics and Language.
The exercises in this area are intended to teach the child to interact in his/her own environment by providing instructions on how to face the things around him/her. The child learns that there is a correct way to do things and these activities make the child feel safe and help develop independence.
This area helps the child communicate and establish social relationships. He/she develops oral communication and prepares for the reading-writing process. Reading and writing go hand-in-hand. The initial work with the previous materials prepares the child for both. Development of language is the medium through which the child makes himself/herself known and understood.
Sensory training is of great importance in the learning of the foundations of mathematics. There are around 20 special Montessori materials used to help a child enter the world of numbers with ease and confidence. A three-year-old child has a logical mind and is interested in sequence and order. The idea of quantity is inherent to all materials. There is a notion of identity and difference, part of the recognition of identical objects and the degree of similarity between objects. Through repetition during these exercises, the child is being conditioned to learn and gradually construct a solid foundation for more advanced mathematics. Mathematical language helps the child understand natural laws, The Montessori materials begin with the basics and gradually become more complex to build a solid foundation for mathematical knowledge. Coming off of concrete experiences the child systematically arrives at abstract concepts and understands them.
The purpose and aim of Practical Life is to help the child gain control in the coordination of his movement, and help the child to gain independence and adapt to his society. Practical Life Exercises also aid the growth and development of the child’s intellect and concentration and will in turn also help the child develop an orderly way of thinking.
With practical Life Exercises:
• The child learns the basic movements of all societies such as pouring, folding, and carrying.
• The child learns about the care and maintenance that helps every day life.
These activities are, for example, the care of the person (i.e the washing of the hand) and the care of the environment (i.e dusting a table or outdoor sweeping).
• The children work on the interactions of people to people.
• The child learns about his own movements and learns how to refine his coordination through such activities as walking on the line.
Children are naturally interested in activities they have witnessed. Dr. Montessori began using what she called “Practical Life Exercises” to allow the child to do activities of daily life and therefore adapt and orientate himself in his society. The Montessori guides’s task is to demonstrate the correct way of doing these exercises in a way that allows the child to fully observe the movements. The guides must also keep in mind that the goal is to show the actions so that the child can go off and repeat the activity in his own successful way. The child must develop his own way of doing these activities so that the movements become real and not synthetic.
During the child’s sensitive period between birth and 6, the child is constructing the inner building blocks of his person. It is therefore important for the child to participate in activities to prepare him for his environment, that allow him to grow independently and use his motor skills, as well as allow the child to analyze difficulties he may have in the exercise and problem solve successfully.
Montessori also saw the child’s need for order, repetition, and succession in movements. Practical Life Exercises also helps to aid the child to develop his coordination in movement, his balance and his gracefulness in his environment as well as his need to develop the power of being silent.
Because Practical Life Exercises are meant to resemble everyday activities, it is important that all materials be familiar, real, breakable, and functional. The materials must also be related to the child’s time and culture. In order to allow the child to fully finish the exercise and to therefore finish the full cycle of the activity, the material must be complete. In the environment, the guides may want to color code the materials as well as arrange the materials based on difficulties in order to facilitate the classification and arrangements of the work by the children.