What is Montessori?
Montessori is a child-directed education system with the ambitious goal of supporting children to become complete adults – comfortable with themselves, with their community, and with humanity as a whole.
Montessori teachers guide each child within the framework of thoughtfully prepared learning environments. The Montessori approach, classrooms, and learning materials cultivate in children their natural desire and self-discipline to learn.
Montessori teachers are not only knowledgeable about childhood development; they are also skilled observers and creative facilitators. Teachers closely observe each child’s interests, learning style, and temperament. They guide students toward materials and lessons that will capture the student’s attention. They offer encouragement, share in triumphs, and steer children toward greater understanding.
The Montessori Environment
Montessori classrooms are designed to create a learning environment that accommodates choice. Some spaces are better suited to group activity, while other areas encourage solitude. Each part of the curriculum has a dedicated area with shelves or display tables containing a variety of inviting materials from which students can choose. All learning materials are carefully selected to support mental, physical and social development.
Students are encouraged to take responsibility for free choice, complete what they begin, and clean up afterward. As guides, we relate to our children as individuals with separate needs, helping them learn the responsibilities and progression of their own pace. Montessori education fosters independence, refines a child’s natural tools for learning and self-motivation. It goes beyond the academic disciplines, emphasizing personal responsibility and consideration for others.
The Montessori preschool classroom has child-sized furniture, low shelves, open space for movement, and areas for independent work or exploration. In the calm, ordered space of our prepared environment, children choose their own work and their own pace. They experience a blend of freedom and self-discipline in a space specifically designed for them.
Our classroom space, the materials we use, and our curriculum prepare each child to embrace life experiences openly, enthusiastically and with a sense of joy for discovery. Our preschool curriculum emphasizes seven subject areas: practical life, sensorial, language, math, art, science, and kindness.
Children develop an understanding of self care and care of our environment. Learning activities help children build order, concentration, coordination, independence, and personal and social responsibility. Through play and exploration with real objects, children gain coordination and become absorbed in their work. They develop attention to detail and lengthen their concentration span.
A fundamental principle in Montessori is that each child is a “sensorial explorer.” Sensorial materials are sequential and provide a foundation for both math and language. Learning activities are designed to isolate the physical qualities perceived by the senses such as size, shape, composition, texture, comparison of sounds and colors, matching, weight, grading, temperature, etc. Sensoral learning materials and activities provide a continual exercise of observation and comparison skills. They lay the foundation for active intelligence and conscious knowledge.
Preschool students develop speaking, listening, writing, reading skills a variety of experiences. Oral language is developed through conversation, poems, literature, and sharing stories. Children learn the sound and formation of each letter of the alphabet, on a sensorial level, through the use of sandpapers letters, phonetic objects, and related materials. Reading is encouraged through the use of a moveable alphabet and the construction of words from individual sounds.
We use concrete learning materials to present the abstract concepts and sensorial work enables each child to identify and differentiate the idea of quantity; an abstraction built into the Montessori materials. Children build an understanding for the concept of numbers including basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
We foster creativity and an understanding of the arts for all of our preschool students. Activities focus on expression through and with paint, paper, clay, pencils, watercolors and whatever else turns up. Singing and dancing, story telling, and making rhythm and music take place regularly and spontaneously. All of these activities encourage an appreciation of the arts as a natural part of our physical world.
Young children are especially receptive to grasping language. Because of this, our Montessori preschool education includes the basic nomenclature of biology, geometry, physical science and geography. The experience is given first and the language follows. Children gain an awareness of the physical world around them by exploring everything from flower parts/shapes to geometric solids to concepts such as sinking/floating.
Students gain understanding, tolerance, and compassion for all people in the world by looking at the basic needs of all humans (food, shelter, clothing). Along with lessons in kindness, the Montessori experience develops the children’s awareness of their own feelings and sensitivity to the feelings of others.
Olive has taken a giant leap in her development since she started at Bend Montessori School. We’ve noticed that she asks questions about the world around her, absorbs the answer for a while and then asks another, thoughtful follow-up rather than jumping to the next topic. Left to discover on her own, she will absorb herself fully in a single task longer than I would have imagined. She chooses to spend more time at learning activities than she does at play activities. She talks about her teachers, friends and “work” at home and is so eager to be at school that she asks me when she can come back before we’ve even left the building at the end of the day. We are thrilled with Bend Montessori School!
— Olive’s Mom