Introduction to Montessori Preschool
Do you have a toddler who is preparing to begin school life? Searching for the right preschool can be a daunting task with the many curricula adopted by schools.
Preschool is crucial for a child’s education as these are the formative years of a child. These are the years that your child develops a solid and broad foundation for lifelong learning.
The Montessori teaching method is one of the best techniques applied by preschools. You might have heard the term “Montessori.” But do you know what it entails?
A Montessori preschool is a type of school that employs a unique educational philosophy developed by an Italian physician Maria Montessori.
The philosophy views the child as naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a well-thought-out and planned learning environment.
To fully understand the characteristics of an International Montessori school, here are the seven fundamental tenets of a Montessori preschool.
Mixed Age Classes
In a Montessori preschool, children are not divided into grades or ages. Dr. Montessori observed that children learn best when they are in a mixed-age classroom.
They learn by watching their older peers. They can emulate the older kids and learn how to engage with each other, participate in the school, and engage with the teacher.
They develop their observational skills and learn about mentorship from an early age. The older children also gain empathy and valuable leadership traits by teaching younger children.
A well-prepared environment
The classroom is a critical aspect of learning, as it sets the right environment for kids. A well-prepared environment encourages students to participate in an array of activities with ease and comfort.
Montessori preschools are very neat, and you will find learning materials arranged according to subject order and are within reach of the child. They are also age-appropriate.
Teachers set the classroom such that children have enough space to learn and play as a group or individually. Conversely, the children are taught to handle the learning materials responsibly. Once they complete an activity, they are encouraged to put them away safely.
Montessori Learning Materials
Montessori preschools have specialized hands-on learning materials. Dr. Montessori developed age-appropriate materials that aided the development of specific critical skills.
One unique factor in these tools is they are made from natural aesthetic materials such as wood rather than plastic.
Some materials are also made from metal. You will find learning art and craft materials, puzzles, blocks, moveable alphabet letters, beads, and classification cards.
Trained Montessori Teachers
Unlike the typical preschool teacher, Montessori teachers are trained to follow the child’s cues and observe their characteristics, tendencies, innate talents, and abilities.
Montessori teachers are highly trained to recognize and guide a child towards appropriate learning materials, depending on their abilities.
They are trained on the Montessori theory and philosophy and the proper use of the learning materials used in classrooms.
Freedom within limits
In a Montessori preschool, children have the freedom to choose who they want to work with during their activities.
They are also given a choice regarding the seating spaces as opposed to having the teacher assign them. The activities in a Montessori class are generally child-directed. The teacher is available to provide guidance, but the kids lead the class.
Uninterrupted Blocks of Work time
Children are allowed to work uninterrupted for long periods on their own. Ideally, they should be given 2-3 hours at a time.
This provides the child with time to explore on their own to find out what excites them. They grow a sense of maturity and responsibility. It also enhances their concentration.
Discover rather than Teach
Montessori teachers do not teach as a typical school would. They are there to guide the child on the activities the individual child is curious about.
The children are allowed to learn concepts from working with the learning materials by themselves. A Montessori preschool class could have 20 children, but each of them is at different academic levels.
The teacher offers one-on-one lessons depending on the child’s level and needs as opposed to group teaching. This is possible because the children work independently based on the activities they spend time perfecting.
Children learn practical life lessons, like washing their hands, being courteous, setting the table, and other practical activities that aim to care for the people and the environment they live in. Another area they cover is sensorial- learning.
The learning materials in a Montessori preschool helps kids distinguish elements like size, weight, smell, texture, etc. Language and Mathematics are also taught using this method.
Again, language is introduced through the sensory element. They learn how to write and read as they also learn about geography, art, and music.
kids learn mathematical concepts from their interaction with the concrete learning materials provided in the classroom. This allows the child to gain a better understanding of math concepts since they are visual.
With such an elaborate, child-friendly structure, it’s easy to see why Montessori schools are a better option for young learners.