While considering the natural development of the child’s mind, Dr. Montessori set out to create the ideal educational setting. The following are several principles used in Montessori classrooms to optimize children’s cognitive, social, and emotional well being.
Prepared Environment. The environment must be tailored to meet the developmental needs of all students entering the class. Otherwise, the child will resort to unproductive tasks. It is the responsibility of the teacher to observe and provide materials that suit the needs of the children. The environment should stimulate the children’s natural curiosity and drive.
Freedom and Limits. Children must be given the time and freedom to interact with the prepared environment in order to satisfy their needs. “A child chooses what helps him to construct himself,” says Dr. Montessori. The classroom encourages grace and courtesy towards others, and respect for the materials. The teacher protects the student’s concentration by helping students make choices and become involved in everyday tasks.
Structure. Organized into 3 year cycles, children are enrolled in the classroom best suited to their needs. There is generally one trained teacher to deliver individual or small group lessons, and one teaching assistant to help replenish supplies, observe and take notes, and help the teacher or children as needed.
As a general rule, students are allotted a three hour work session without any outside interruption in which to choose from the materials. This may also include a group meeting time, and other small group presentation, so long as it does not call a working student away from concentrated efforts.
The classroom itself is decorated not with useless posters and characters, but with functional plants, cleaning materials, tables, chairs, mats, and reading areas, in which the students may move freely to conduct their studies. The classroom is seen as a mini-community which is kept and facilitated by its members.
The materials are arranged in a neat and attractive fashion and are always returned to the same place on the shelves. The materials are designed to teach a specific skill but generally incorporate several indirect preparations used in subsequent presentations. Some items are small, heavy, or easy to spill enticing students to use their motor skills in order to set up a work area. All materials are designed to incorporate the use of the hands, which is essential for activating the mind. The materials are made with natural substances so as to appease sensory input within a young child. They are self-correcting, visually show errors, and encourage a trial and error discovery type learning.
Presentations are sequential, and the teacher keeps an in-depth portfolio on each child. It takes three years for a child to work through the full cycle of presentations.
If you are interested in more information regarding our new Montessori Preschool program, please contact our Principal and Montessori Program Director, Mrs. Tina McNeely at firstname.lastname@example.org