Dr. Maria Montessori believed that no human being is educated by another person, He or she must do it by himself or herself, or it will never be done, She believed that the goal of early childhood education should not be to fill the child with facts but rather to cultivate the child's own natureal desire to learn. In the Montessori classroom, theis objective is approached in 2 ways: first, by allowing ecah child to experience the excitement of learning by his or her own choice rather than by being forced; and second, by helping the child perfect his or her natural tools for learning, so that the child's abilites will be maximized for future learning situations. The Montessori materials have this dual, long-range purpose in addition to their immediate purpose of giving specific information to the child. The primary curriculum is divided into five areas of materials:
Practical Life Exercises
These activities are said to bridge the child from the home to the classroom with exercises that are the adult has demonstrated over and over again in daily life. There are 4 distinct groups of practical life exercises.
1. Care of the person - These activities help the child become independent of the mother or someone else for dressing, undresssing, taking care of his body, washing, bthing, or combing his hair; things that concern his own person.
2. Care of the environment - These exercises include washing, ironing, polishing, gardening, sweeping, etc.
3. Development of social relations - The exercises include greetings, offerings, accepting, apologizing, thanking, etc. We refer to these as the grace and courtesies.
4. Control of Movement - These allow the child to develop a sense of control and balance of his entire body, The purpose for each of these activities is for orientation and adaptation for the child to his culture in terms of daily activities of his own people.
The sensorial materials help children to disinguish, to categorize, and to relate new information to what they already know. Dr. Montessori believed that this process is the beginning of conscious knowledge. It is brought about by the intelligence working in a concentrated way on the impressions giben by the senses of sight, touch, hearing, and smell.
Language In the Montessori classroom
Children learn the phonetic sounds of the letters before they learn the alphabetical names in a sequence. The phonetic sounds are given first because they are the sounds they hear in words they need to be able to read. The children first become aware of these phonetic sounds when the adult introduces the sounds with the Sandpaper Letters, the individual presentation of language materials in a Montessori classroom allows the adult ot take advantage of each child's greatest periods of interest. Reading insturction begins on the day when the children want to know what a word says or when they show an interest in using the Sandpaper Letters, Writing or the constructions of words with the movable alphabet, nearly always precedes reading in a Montessori environment.
Dr. Montessori demonstrated that if children have access to mathematical equipment in their early years, they can easily and joyfully assimilate many facts and skills of arithmetic, On the other hand, these same facts and skills may require long hours of drudgery and drill if they are introduced to them later in the abstract form. Dr. Montessori designed concrete materials to represent all types of quantities, after she observed that children who become interested in counting like to touch or move the items as they enumerate them, By combining this equipment, separating it, sharing it, counting it, and comparing it, they can demonstrate to themselves the basic operations of mathematics, Once the child is able to count to 10 and identify the symbols they are introcudce to the golden bead materials working with the decimal system, the foundation of the mathematic materials. They move on to concrete work with the operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. They work withappropriate materials and record their work on paper. Similar operations can be performed with a variety of materials, This bariety maintains the children's interest while giving them many opportunities for the necessary repetition. In the classroom there are many materials that can be used for counting, adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing.
Dr, Montessori saw teaching of the cultural subjects as a great, important part of the whole education of the yojng child, Her ciew of cosmic education was from a mountaintop, looking at the child as a whole in realstion to society, Life of man on earth is interconnected with life of animals, plants, and non-living elements. Culture is the manmade part of our environment. It is a manifestation of a continuous and progressive education of psychic and spiritual life of man, Culture makes it possible for individuals in society to live together in harmony. Without it, man cannot fulfill his potential. The Cultural Subjects are a group of materials that reflect the exercises of Geography, History, Science and Nature, Music and Art. Each of these areas has its own exercises, some overlapping from one area to the next.
In Geography, the wooden puzzle maps are among the most popular materials in the classroom. At first, the children use the maps as puzzles, Gradually they learn the names of many of the countries as well as information about climate, products, customs, food, music, language, and animals, Many of these characteristics are demonstrated through the geography pictures.
History is illustrated by working with time lines and pictures from the past and present, the children may begin by making a time line of their own lives, starting with when they were babies.
Science and Nature - The children's natural curiosity is stimulated through discovery projects and experiments. The plant and animal kingdoms are studied in an orderly fashion to foster a love an appreciation for all living things.
Music happens daily and frequently through singing songs. There are opportunities to listen to different types of music.
Art in the primary environment strives to maintain the great joy the child finds in creating something of his or her own, The children have freedom to explore their imaginations in a variety of mediums used for expression. The mediums range from crayons, cutting, pasting, drawing, painting, sewing, with exercises set up in a natural progression from start to finish that the child works with independently.