A Montessori classroom is a prepared environment where a child is free to be himself and do what he wants to do, when he wants to do it. The materials are designed to meet the sensorial needs of the child to feel, smell, lift, and hear. The Montessori materials are materials of development, not teaching aides. They are designed so the child develops himself through his work.
The classroom is divided into five areas:
- Practical Life – exercises that help a child learn to take care of himself and his environment, and refine his physical movement. Grace and courtesy exercises are also a part of this curriculum.
- Sensorial – exercises designed to help sharpen a student’s senses.
- Mathematics – Using manipulatives, the child internalizes concepts of number, symbol, sequence and operations.
- Language Arts – basic skills in writing and reading are developed using sandpaper letters, phonetic sounds, moveable alphabet and various presentations.
- Cultural Activities – introduces the child to basics in geography, history, science, music and art, and cultures different than his own.
Most of our classrooms have mixed age groups. Children learn from one another. This can be seen in family and play situations where children are free to observe and interact in a variety of activities. Young children learn higher-level cognitive and social skills not only through mental development, but also by observing others as models.
Multi-age grouping helps children develop a sense of community and supports social development. Older children act as role models and (sometimes) teachers of younger children. This aids in the development of personality, collaboration, and cooperation. Montessori classrooms have used mixed age groupings for over 100 years!