The Montessori Difference
Children possess an unusual sensitivity and intellectual ability to absorb and learn from their environment that is unlike that of the adult both in quality and capacity.
This characteristic is most prevalent during the first six years of life when unconscious learning is gradually brought to the conscious level.
Children have a deep passion and need for purposeful work. While the work itself may not result in the completion of a project, it is the activity itself that creates the development of their mental, physical, and psychological powers.
Realizing that the child’s mind is different from the adult mind, this system of education is designed around the child’s developmental needs for freedom coupled with a strategically prepared environment which guarantees exposure to materials and experiences. Through this process, the child develops intelligence as well as
physical and psychological abilities. The curriculum is designed to capture the child’s desire to learn and their unique ability to develop their own capabilities.
The method that young children use to learn. The intellect of a small child is the method that young children use to learn. The intellect of a small child is developed unconsciously by absorbing everything in his environment. Early impressions are very important because they form the personality and character of the child.
The Absorbent Mind
This is the method that young children use to learn. The intellect of a small child is the method that young children use to learn. The intellect of a small child is developed
unconsciously by absorbing everything in his environment. Early impressions are very important because they form the personality and character of the child.
The “sensitive periods” were referred to by Dr. Montessori as periods in the development of children when there was a strong ability for acquiring a particular skill or type of knowledge. These “sensitive periods” are dominate at certain time frames in the life of the child and then tend to disappear. These are divided into different age categories:
Birth to age 3 – sensory experiences
Age 1-1/2 to age 3 – language development
Age 3 to age 4-1/2 – writing development
Age 4-1/2 to age 5-1/2 – reading development
If the sensitive period is missed, the opportunity to develop naturally is lost. Skills and knowledge are acquired later in life but the period when they are absorbed is lost forever.
The Montessori teacher must be observant and prepared to recognize the sensitive period that develops for the students and be ready to capitalize on each one’s special interest within the allotted time frame.
Another important aspect of the Montessori method of education is her development of the “sensorial materials”. When Dr. Montessori designed the sensorial materials, she isolated one abstraction at a time in order to focus on one specific property, i.e., size, shape, color etc. The materials are designed to go from the simple to the complicated, all the while developing and educating the senses.
The senses play an important role in our lives, but never is the growth potential as great as during the early (2.5-5) years. The child develops the senses of sight, taste, touch, etc. through manipulation and experience with his surroundings.
Art and Music
Art and Music are a part of every Montessori classroom. These lead to the development of gross motor skills. Dr. Montessori felt music education could significantly enhance the development of the young child. Music stimulates the neural bridges in the area of the brain that is responsible for mathematical computation. Music lessons can significantly enhance this spatial-temporal
reasoning ability. There is a sensitive period in which music is most effective in this stimulation, i.e. before the age of five.
The mathematics materials developed by Dr. Montessori are based on the decimal system and are devised so that the child can manipulate them in a way that will allow him to easily visualize the numbers. There is a certain time in the child’s development when he develops an “awakening” in his mathematical mind. The child can learn mathematics in either of two ways; (1) by using concrete materials during the years when he enjoys manipulating equipment or (2) he can learn by abstract methods when he is in the elementary grades. The main difference in her method is the process whereby the child learns the concepts on his own. It is an ”Ah-ha” experience for the child. The learning is truly the child’s own.
Another novel aspect of the Montessori Method is the incorporation of the “Practical Life” materials. In the Montessori environment all activities are called “work”. The child learns to take care of himself and his environment. He learns to tie his shoes, to keep his environment clean, pour liquids without spilling, all the while developing his fine motor skills, which involves the body, intellect and will.
Language, there is no other thing that offers a bridge to another mind than the ability to use meaningful words in unlimited combinations. In the Montessori classroom, the child will learn sounds first and will progress then to putting sounds together to make words (movable alphabet) then on to writing using the sand paper letters. The final step is reading.
The “absorbent mind” of young children allows them to easily acquire a second language.
During language acquisition children lay down neural pathways in the brain. These pathways establish the groundwork for advanced learning of all kinds.
Culture and Science
Introduction to the cultural subjects, History, Science, Geography, Botany and Zoology, is made interesting by use of the nature table. At Black Mountain Science Academy, we will introduce the children to additional science over and above the subjects taught in a traditional Montessori classroom. This will include
an introduction to Microbiology and the science of the human cell. We will also introduce the children to the use of a computer.