In a special atmosphere of cheerful orderliness, calmness and purposeful work there is a vibrant community of children, where there is not only a place for individual learning but also the opportunity for the child to learn to interact socially in many ways. A balance of the individual needs of one with the necessity for order and harmony within the group.
The curriculum offered to children is not only integrated within but is so broad and diverse it develops all qualities of the child.d he needs of many.
Montessori developed a conceptual curriculum framework allowing teachers to provide the child with relevant integrated studies covering a large range of learning disciplines.
The Didactic Apparatus
The materials that Montessori developed and designed are divided into three main categories.
Specially designed activities give the child an understanding of the environment and how it works. They obtain skills for everyday living such as pouring water, doing up buttons, undoing lids.
This useful work is satisfying and develops confidence and independence. It also improves manual dexterity and control of movement.
The Sensorial Materials
The use the child’s power of observation to sharpen his senses and thus understands the world around him. Each of the sensorial material isolates one quality, such as color, weight, shape and texture, size and sound, smell etc.
The material helps the child to distinguish, categorize and relate new information to what they already know. These exercises are a preparation for academic learning. For example the skill of being able to listen carefully will help the child hear the subtle differences in the sounds of the letters.
The Academic Materials
The child begins to be interested in drawing the shapes of the letters as they are learning the phonetic alphabet. They trace letters with their fingers over the sandpaper so they can hear the sound and feel the shape of the letter. The child begins using the moveable alphabet and words fall into place, they begin to read and gradually through sequenced exercises language becomes a joy.
The basic concepts of mathematics are introduced by using concrete materials slightly woven through the design are subliminal concepts to build upon in later lesson of math’s. Shape and weight often teaches such concepts as the square of or a formula that through the sense of touch and this will be referred to subconsciously when the subject is later extended.
The Prepared Environment
The prepared environment is an environment physically and psychologically designed to meet the needs of the child. The room is scaled to the age of the children allowing them independence of movement and the ability to be masters of their own environment. The freedom to move, practice skills and work with others, albeit within a framework of appropriate social behavior, develops self-esteem and discipline. Learning is stimulated by an inner need and carries for the child it’s own motivations and rewards, developing orderly work habits and the development of qualities such as confidence and concentration and attention.
The Montessori classroom aims to provide children with specially designed materials and resources, which are suited to their needs at each stage of development. Montessori believed that children learnt best by being taught concepts in a concrete form until the children begin to transition into abstract thinking. This is particularly successful in areas such as mathematics and produces wonderful outcomes.
In their design and use the materials provide opportunity for the child to work on tasks for extended lengths of time, thus supporting the development of concentration. The materials are designed to attract the child and stimulate activity. They encourage the child to follow a sequence of difficulty thus providing continuing challenge.
Significant features of the materials are that they isolate a quality and allow for the possibility of handling, repetition, exactness, correlation and the acquisition of precise vocabulary. Most importantly the early equipment is self correcting. As the child manipulates the materials the “control of error” helps children gauge their performance. The methodology promotes a love of learning which stays with the child a lifetime with care.