Montessori Method

Montessori Method

There are some specific early education philosophies such as the Montessori Method that are characterized by an emphasis on independence, freedom, and respect for a child’s natural psychological, physical, and social development. In other words the goal is not to fill the child with facts from a prescribed course of studies, but rather to guide and cultivate the child’s natural desire to learn. Dr. Maria Montessori suggests that the optimal functioning of the child occurs through work within a prepared environment of five main areas: Practical Life, Sensorial, Mathematics, Language, and Cultural (which includes subjects such as geography, science, history, art, music and physical education).


Montessori Method

The Montessori classroom is designed in such a way that all activities gear themselves naturally toward the development of the skills required for oral and written language and reading. Language development is also encouraged in the classroom because of the freedom of conversation allowed to the children. In the Montessori environment encouragement of self-expression is fostered through communication between children and their peers and children and adults. In the Language area of the environment, vocabulary is enriched in a number of ways. Precise names are used for all of the objects and apparatus. Vocabulary classification and matching exercises develop visual perception and enrich vocabulary development. A child will continue to progress at their own pace through the reading program as concrete concepts lead to abstract ones. A child in the Montessori classroom develops a sense of wonder at his own powers and this wonder becomes a motivating force toward further learning.

Practical Life

Montessori Method

The Practical Life area of the Montessori environment has some basic goals. The activities found in this area of the classroom provide real life experiences for children.

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The exercises in Practical Life provide purposeful life activity, develop motor control and coordination, develop independence, concentration, and a sense of responsibility. Such skills include learning to button and zip one’s coat for example, or tying one’s shoelaces or snapping closed fasteners. Other activities include hand washing and cleaning up, baby doll washing and grooming that help express caring for others. Under the area of caring for the environment are exercises such as pouring, spooning, sweeping, cloth folding, dish washing, and taking care of animals and plants. Exercises in grace and courtesy consist of things such as walking, sitting, greeting others, manners (please, thank you, and "May I"), how to interrupt a teacher or another child ("Excuse me" and tapping a teacher on the shoulder and waiting to be responded to), passing objects, following directions, how to open and close a door, and control of body through silence games.


Montessori Method

Montessori believed that nothing comes into the mind except through the senses. As children develop their senses their attention is directed toward their environment. The purpose then of the Sensorial activities is to help the child in his efforts to sort out the many varied impressions given by the senses. These materials are specifically designed to help the child develop discrimination, order, and to broaden and refine the senses as well help prepare him to be a logical, aware, and perceptive person.

In the mathematics classroom, students engage in historically established mathematical discourse with their classmates and the teacher. In so doing, their thinking undergoes change as they establish the reasons and rationale for using such discourses within the mathematics community. Student’s increasingly sophisticated use of mathematical discourse engagement is allied to their increased sensitivity to opportunities for using those observations, associated techniques and ways of thinking. Thus the routines they invoke; how to look, how to calculate, how to use words, how to endorse, how to define, etc., increase student’s opportunities for solving evermore complex problems.


Learning mathematical concepts in a Montessori classroom begins concretely and progresses towards the abstract. They are developed from simple to complex. Process is taught first and facts come later. Order, coordination, concentration, and independence are experienced by the child using manipulative materials. The mathematics activities are organized into five groups.

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Group one introduces sets of one through ten which prepares the child for counting and teaches the value of quantity. Children begin to associate numeral and quantity with number rods and number cards for example, after which they will gain a growing understanding of sequence. Group two involves the decimal system and the child will become familiar with the names of the decimal categories; units, tens, hundreds, and thousands. Quantity will be followed by symbol and association. Group three deals with operations using the process of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division and the connections between these. While group four consists of linear counting, for example, quantity is presented using number boards followed by symbol and association. The one-hundred board helps develop number concepts and recognition of numbers one through one-hundred, as well as introducing the child to skip counting; five, ten, fifteen, twenty, etc. Group five contains activities such as various board games that introduce different concepts such as fractions.

The activities in the Math area are not to be implemented at a set pace. Providing the child with the materials at precisely the right challenge level will enable the child to demonstrate his development to the teacher through his progress. A child that is able to grasp such math concepts as addition and subtraction demonstrates the successful use of the math materials. Mathematical apparatus provides the necessary stimulation for the child to learn math concepts more readily.


The Cultural area of the Montessori classroom covers a variety of subjects. Geography, Science, Botany, Zoology and History are included. Art and Music are also considered a part of the Cultural Area of the classroom. History is covered in greater detail as the children progress through to the elementary part of the school.

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During the year subjects discussed in Geography are things such as; land, air, and water, maps, continents, people, food and music from other countries. Unit studies in science include subjects such as the different seasons, the five senses, why leaves change colour, layers of the earth, parts of a volcano, and biomes of the earth. Simple science experiments are included as well. Zoology is the area where the focus is learning about animals. Included are the five classes of vertebrates and invertebrates are discussed including insects, worms, and spiders. In Botany, seeds, parts of a plant, kinds of trees, herbs and spices, and what plants give us, are some of the unit studies discussed.

The Prepared Environment

Montessori believed that children learn best in a prepared environment, a place in which children can do things for themselves. The prepared environment makes learning materials and experiences available to children in an orderly format. Classrooms Montessori described are really what educators advocate when they talk about child-centred education and active learning. Freedom is the essential characteristic of the prepared environment. Since children within the environment are free to explore materials of their own choosing, they absorb what they find there. The key is in creating environments for young children that enable them to be independent, active, and learning.


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