As children enter the classroom, their real life experiences are supported with vocabulary. Simultaneous to language development, children are introduced to the alphabet through phonetic sounds. As their experience manipulating sounds develops, children are able to build words phonetically and naturally, read. In time many children enjoy creating short stories of family trips or outings, writing the scientific names of the flower or reading the definition of an island.
In Montessori, numbers are presented first by introducing the concept of quantity. When children are able to distinguish how numbers grow in measurable increments, the symbol for each quantity is introduced. With this knowledge as a strong foundation, children are able to begin exploring more abstract mathematical concepts. When children engage in materials that demonstrate how numbers relate to each other, they can begin to play with simple to more complex calculations.
The Sensorial materials in the classroom aid the child in discerning similarities and differences, then classifying that information. Here, children learn how to judge size, grade color, sort objects and work with pre-algebraic shape to introduce mathematical concepts. It’s where the children learn using their senses and crystallize their experiences with language.
The activities in the practical life area are designed to represent things we do in everyday life. From washing dishes to polishing shoes, arranging flowers or simply pouring juice, Practical Life is the foundation for all the other areas of the classroom. The importance of this area is in how it helps the children perfect foundational learning skills: order, concentration, coordination and independence. It is the area of the classroom where all children begin and it is the area where all children return after they have completed the most difficult work.
Of Dr. Maria Montessori's many accomplishments, her work with children was the most innovative of her time and continues to be relevant today. Her philosophy developed as a result of keenly observing the children in her care and using her observations as a guide to creating an intuitive learning environment. Dr. Montessori had a deep appreciation for preserving the natural development of the whole child. She believed that adding order to the children's environment enabled them to pursue their developmental motives unencumbered. This idea has become one of the pillars of the Montessori philosophy: to "follow the child[s]" motive to learn and grow emotionally, cognitively, and socially. At Pathway, the Montessori preschool and Kindergarten programs impart to children, a fundamental love of learning and a boundless curiosity of life.
Children are very interested in the world around. From the smallest "roly-poly" in the garden to where the sky ends, children naturally want answers to their questions about how the world works. The cultural subjects are designed to aid in the children's discovery of "how" and "why". Through hands on experience; building a working volcano, making paper, or dissecting a flower to name its parts, the children begin to understand how the world is organized and classified. The child's relationship to space is Geography. The child's relationship to time is history and the child's relationship to the world around is the study of Botany and Zoology.
Art plays an important role in the Montessori classroom. It is the link that connects all curricula areas offering children an outlet for reflection and further contemplation of their academic work. Also art provides children the opportunity for self expression. After all, it isn't until we can communicate to another the life cycle of the lily, that we truly understand it ourselves. Communicating who you are or what is important to you builds confidence and in turn, joy.