As a mother of two boys who have studied in Montessori preschools, I have found much to admire about the Montessori philosophy and approach to education. The
curriculum is carefully constructed to introduce children to various aspects of the world they live in. The main subjects taught at Primary level (ages 3-6 years) are:
Practical life: Prepares children for life and has lessons like putting on shoes and coats independently, or cleaning a work surface after artwork. The aim is to foster independence and self-confidence as they learn to perform simple tasks in their environment.
Sensorial: This contains exercises in the form of activities that can be felt, handled and manipulated. The practice of these improves the environmental awareness of children and better attunes them to perceive and interact with their surroundings.
Language: According to Maria Montessori, the founder of Montessori, the most sensitive period for language acquisition is from birth to six years old. The Language curriculum includes a number of activities such as reading stories, discussions at circle time, and classification of objects.
Math: Montessori materials teach math concepts using concrete materials. Many math activities are referred to as “games” and played in groups, making it fun and paving the way for socialization. Math lessons start with concrete materials gradually leading to the abstract.
The curriculum also includes Geography and Cultural studies, a foreign language or a second language essays as well as Music and Movement to develop coordination, balance and enjoyment of rhythm and music.
To me, the most admirable features of Montessori philosophy are quite separate from actual curriculum. Here are the aspects that I have grown to love as a parent over the years:
Self-directed learning: The focus of Montessori is to bring out the best in each child through self-discovery, i.e. the child is primarily self-taught at his/her own pace. She can repeat a lesson as many times as she likes. Allowing a child to choose the lesson he wants to learn puts him in charge and ensures he’s completely interested in learning.
Value the process over the end result: This is such a key life lesson – my child learns it every day in the classroom, which is all about building one’s knowledge in an
orderly step-by-step process, growing it in a natural progression.