The Montessori Method
Montessori World School classrooms are equipped with materials designed to address particular developmental needs of children at different ages. Dr. Montessori created activities that identify and sequence the steps children go through as they work to achieve educational outcomes. Each material presents one step in the learning process. The concept that the child is to discover is isolated. Furthermore, the materials are self-correcting to encourage children to solve problems independently. This builds self-confidence, analytical thinking and the satisfaction that comes from accomplishment. The materials interrelate and build upon each other. They are presented sequentially over the years a child spends in the program. For example, students studying the binomial theorem in Algebra will recall experiences with a three dimensional puzzle in pre-school called the binomial cube. Similarly, ideas of congruency, similarity, and equivalence are first presented as pre-school puzzles called constructive triangles. The concepts are extended at the elementary level into further detail in vocabulary and materials, leading more advanced students towards the discovery of the theoretical formulas and applications.
The Prepared Environment
The prepared learning environment presents children with the possibility of freedom and opportunities to develop self-discipline. The classroom environment is prepared to support six developmental drives shared by all children.
1. Exploration: Children need to explore, from their first efforts to conquer the home environment to the subsequent drive to reach out into the community and the world. Our classrooms provide abundant, age appropriate hands on activities designed to provide opportunities for exploration and movement.
2. Orientation: The need for orientation and order are provided for by establishing predictable classroom routines and by carefully sequencing activities on shelves by subject area. Our classrooms are designed to encourage calm, orderly independent learning and exploration.
3. Imagination: Human tendencies for imagination and abstraction are given free rein throughout the vast scope of the curriculum. Each part of the curriculum begins by presenting children with a big picture. This is followed with diverse ways for them to explore subjects that capture their imagination.
4. Repetition: Opportunities for repetition and manipulation of materials allow children’s discoveries to become part of their broad background of knowledge. Children work on activities at their own pace, choosing materials they would like to use and working for as long as the materials hold their interest.
5. Precision: The drive towards precision and perfection inclines each child to imagine solutions, try them out, and if successful, use them to solve real-life challenges in the prepared environment.
6. Communications: Finally, communication through language allows children to cooperate with others, learn the wisdom of the past and make their contributions to humanity. Children delight in working whenever the work leads to a sense of discovery. They gain the same feeling of worth from purposeful activities in school that adults experience as they go to their jobs and do their “work”. This delight in learning and sense of worth are as much a focus of the curriculum as the details of what the children learn.
Toddler (2 to 3 years)
The first three years of life are the most significant ones in the development of the potential of human beings. “The small size of a newborn and its inability to take care of itself invokes our loving attention. The infant’s physical development is phenomenal and apparent and inspires our care and attention. Yet a more profound but less obvious development takes place within the child.”
Montessori refers to the child at this period as ‘Spiritual Embryo’. The idea is that the second embryonic period occurs after birth during the first three years of life when the child’s intelligence is formed, when the child acquires the culture and language into which he or she is born. It is a period when the core of personality, social being and the essence of spiritual life are formed. It is widely recognized, that as adults we are largely the product of our first two years of life, a time of which we have no conscious memories.
Pre-Primary (3 to 6 years)
Children between the age of birth and six years possess an ‘absorbent mind’. Maria Montessori observed that children also experience sensitive periods in their development. These are periods of special sensitivity when the child is attracted to certain stimuli in their environment allowing them to acquire certain knowledge and skills. These periods occur universally for all children at approximately the same age and provide the time for optimal development of that particular skill or knowledge.
At Vruksha, the 3 to 6 year old child is undergoing a process of self -construction. The application of the Montessori philosophy and the specifically designed Montessori equipment aids the child’s ability to absorb knowledge and continue on this path of self-construction.
There are four main areas in the Pre-primary program:Practical Life, Sensorial, Language and Mathematics. Vruksha also emphasizes on Creative Arts, Music, Science, Geography and Cultural Studies. Assimilation of one’s own culture is the child’s central developmental drive in the first plane of development. Vruksha’s Pre-Primary environment serves this drive abundantly, bringing the world to the child. Globes, maps, songs, land forms, collection of pictures of life in different cultures and much more is offered at Vruksha with the aim of helping the child to grow as an individual appreciating the larger context of his or her world.
Primary (6 to 10 years)
The Montessori curriculum was developed as an integrated whole to serve to developmental needs of children from ages 6 to 12. Dr.Montessori termed this period the second plane of development. The continuity of the curriculum allows individual children to move through various subject areas at the pace that is best for them, building confidence and genuine self-esteem. 12 year olds is based on the students’ developmental needs as they move towards adolescence. The work in the lower primary is done with extensive Montessori material allowing the children not only to experience the depth and breadth of the curriculum, but also to become comfortable with their own learning styles. The upper primary students, ages 9-12, transition to more abstract thinking relying more heavily on books and other resource material as they strengthen the work begun in the lower primary. The overall goal of the Montessori Lower Primary is to provide an environment that meets the needs and tendencies of the child at this stage of their development.
Characteristics of children ages 6-10:
1. The reasoning mind is very important.
2. For every answer the children have a question, “Why”?
3. By the time they reach the Second Plane, the child achieves a certain degree of independence and will continue to strive for more independence.
4. Exploration is another characteristic of this age level an often the child wants to go beyond the usual expectation for their age level.
5. This child often turns outward to the broader society and the world beyond herself.
6. Friends become increasingly important to children at this age.
7. The children sometimes create secret languages.
8. The child often becomes more adventurous and daring.
9. Some children become “untidy” with personal belongings.
10. During this stage of development, the children’s conscious becomes “keener”; they develop better ideas of right and wrong, and they often seem to have be better understanding of rules and regulations.
11. The hero worship is characteristic of this stage.
12. They can have enormous potential of intellect and power of imagination in this stage.