For the most part, when a family comes to our open houses to register- they already have a general idea of what Montessori is all about. Sometimes they have researched themselves and like the ideology behind the method. Other times they have heard good things about Montessori, or about Hand in Hand, and want more information. Occasionally, they have heard that if you put your child in a Montessori program they will be reading and doing multiplication and division by kindergarten.
As proud as I am of the method of teaching we share…the last one is not necessarily true. It’s also not necessarily false!
Maria Montessori was the first female physician in Italy. (That alone was a HUGE feat in 1896!) Her scientific observations of children are what lead her to creating the Montessori materials- most of which are the same ones used today in a Montessori classroom. We will spend some time each Monday reviewing materials, why they are used, how the classroom is set up and more!
In a Montessori classroom, furniture and materials are sized to fit the physical dimensions of a preschooler’s body. Every activity is one that they can carry to their workspace on their own, without assistance from an adult. Their workspace is defined by a work mat, either on the floor or on the table. Before they can take an activity off the shelves, they must first roll out a mat to place their work on. Mats are then rolled up carefully and properly and put back where they belong so they are “nice for the next person”. As they take work out- they are asked to remember where it goes so they know where to place it back on the shelves when they have completed it. If they work with consumables, they are expected to re-stock the material before returning it. If there is a spill, they are reminded to clean it up so when it does go back to the shelves, it is ready for use once again.
The classroom is their space- a place to feel safe, feel nurtured, feel strong and independent. They are part of a community and therefore take their responsibilities to “their room” seriously. They are the first to notice if something is out of place or missing, or not put away properly. As teachers, we try and give them as much responsibility within the classroom to encourage them to be confident in their abilities (and maybe to get them helping out at home too!)
If you have questions or comments, please feel free to post and we will be happy to answer. Stay tuned for more next Monday!