" The primary goal of the Montessori program is to help each child reach full potential in all areas of life. Activities promote the development of social skills, emotional growth, and physical coordination as well as cognitive preparation.”
- Maria Montessori
Who is Maria Montessori?
Maria Montessori was an Italian physician and educator. She was Italy’s first female physician, working with children often. This led to her developing an interest in education. Using scientific observation and experience gained from her work with young children as a physician, Maria designed learning materials and a classroom environment that fostered children’s natural desire to learn and provided freedom for them to choose their own activities.
At that time, many doubted the effectiveness of Maria’s work, but the children in Maria’s programs thrived, with many children learning concentration, attention, and spontaneous self-discipline. The “Montessori Method” began to attract the attention of prominent educators, journalists, and public figures.
Starting from 2 ½ -3, children learn the most basic functions: using pencils, knives, paper, etc. Through doing work such as pouring water and washing dishes, their hand-eye coordination, concentration, and sense of order are naturally developed. Through maintaining the wellness of their environment by planting, watering, and maintaining plants in a garden, they learn to love and appreciate their environment. Through these works (and more!) children develop their fine motor skills needed for writing and eating. These fine motor skills set them up for more challenging work and guide them on self-care skills.
Grace & Courtesy
The first day that children come into a Montessori classroom, they will observe and learn how to be respectful to themselves and other people. Based on each child’s habits and behavior, teachers will individualize lessons on manners and social skills. Through play and work with others, students will have opportunities to improve their social and emotional skills. Montessori classrooms have children from 3-6 years old, encouraging interaction between younger and older children. Older children help younger children with work, acting as a role model and guide for how they should act.
Carrying work with two hands (scissors)
Pushing back a chair after work
Quietly observing while others are doing work, respecting personal space
The goal of sensorial work is for children to process the information around them, and synthesize what they sense into classifications and distinct experiences. Through sensing the environment around them, children begin to understand more about the world at large. Educational tools are arranged in order of size, weight, and color. Through interacting with these Montessori materials, children begin to understand the concepts of weight, size, length, shape, and colors.
Mathematics are arranged from easier to most advanced, starting from concrete examples to more abstract representations of math. Through the study of math, students improve their logic skills and pattern recognition. Starting with counting from 0-10, student continue to learn counting from 0-100, then units, tens, hundreds, thousands (base 10 system). The next step is simple arithmetic, including addition and subtraction. Through exploring physical representations of adding and subtraction, students develop a muscle memory for understanding what “addition” and “subtraction” means. Through incorporating mathematical concepts in everyday classroom life, students have many opportunities to understand math in many contexts. Students then learn addition and subtraction up to four digits, learning the concept of larger numbers and learning “sums that require trading (carrying) of units between place values."
Students learn new vocabulary everyday. Through playing games, reading, and interacting with others, children learn to express themselves more skillfully. When developing their vocabulary skills (such as when asking for help), they improve their social skills as well. Children start with learning the alphabet. Children learn to build words, phrases, and sentence structures by using “moveable alphabets” to “build” words and sentences in place.
Students are immersed in a Mandarin-speaking environment. Teachers encourage children to speak Mandarin by asking the children’s questions spoken in English to be spoken in Mandarin instead. Teachers speak slowly and use body language and emphasized facial expressions to better show the meaning behind Mandarin phrases. Once students have reached a basic understanding of Mandarin, students begin to learn Simplified Chinese characters. Similar to English, students learn simple words, more complicated words, phrases, and finally, sentence structures. Teachers will spend extra time talking to students without a Mandarin speaking background at home. Teachers will teach more complicated Mandarin expressions and vocabulary to students who have a Mandarin-speaking background. Children will make scenes using toys, then make stories about the toys in Mandarin. Using Show-and-Tell, students can naturally engage in Mandarin dialogue and learn presentation skills.