The Different Areas of the Montessori Pre-School Prepared Environment
“A child’s work is to create the man he will become”
“An adult works to perfect the environment but a child works to perfect himself”
In the Practical Life area, children work with familiar objects: sweeping, polishing, dusting, pouring, preparing foods and many other worthwhile activities. These exercises are designed to help the child reach a stage of independence and confidence through meaningful activity with real life objects. They help develop co-ordination, concentration, attention to detail, independence, hand dexterity, care of one’s self and environment, patience, grace and courtesy. Finally, he learns good working habits as he finishes each task and puts away all the materials before beginning another activity.
“A person whose senses are educated leads a richer, fuller life!”
The Sensorial materials help the child to distinguish, to categorise, and to relate new information to what he already knows. They allow the child to understand what he sees and to appreciate the environment. They help us to detect any defects at an early stage as each of the sensorial material isolate one defining quality such as colour, weight, shape texture, size, sound, smell. These materials help to lay a superb foundation for all future learning – eg. Science, maths, algebra, geometry, writing, music and art.
To be able to write, the child must commit to memory the shape of the letters and their corresponding sounds and he must develop the necessary muscular skill needed for using the pencil with control. In the Montessori classroom, the child learns to write not by writing, but by working repetitively with purposeful activities which prepare him indirectly and directly for writing. In the Montessori classroom the child learns the phonetic sounds of the letters first using the sand paper letters, after which he begins to make words with the Large Moveable Alphabet. We see a natural progression to matching words and pictures. The child gradually at his/her own pace progresses to reading phonograms and grammar cards. The child’s interest in reading is never stifled by monotony; he is encouraged to read about things that interest him. Writing – or the construction of words with moveable letters nearly always precedes reading in a Montessori environment.
In the Montessori classroom, the child learns by using and manipulating concrete materials during the times he is most sensitive to it. The child combines, shares, counts and compares. He learns by doing and by self-discovery. The child builds his knowledge on what he already knows. Systematic progress is made from the concrete towards the abstract. This helps the child develop a clear, positive understanding. The child never learns a name that does not have a meaning.
“This process of abstraction is by its very nature an individual one, no one can do it for another, however much he may wish to do so. Abstraction is an inner illumination and if the light does not come from within it does not come at all. All we can do is to help the child by giving him the best possible conditions, which include presenting them with external concrete material. In those materials the abstract idea of mathematical operations which we wish to teach is, as it were latent. The child works with them for a good while, and as he does so – his mind rises eventually to a higher level.”
Geography The nature of the Earth and its People
Biology / Zoology The variety of Plants and Animals
Science The Elements
History A sense of the progression of time
We introduce Cultural Subjects to help feed the child’s imagination and understanding of the real world, during the time she/he is most sensitive to it, and to make sure she/he understands their role and the fact that she/he is part of the whole system. The Cosmic Plan. This enables the child to become a “True Citizen of the World”. Cosmic Education prepares today’s child for tomorrow’s adulthood. Man’s future and preservation depended on the future and preservation of our world. By educating the child we give him the “key” to open the door and we lead him towards positive action, he will acknowledge and gain that respect for “cosmic life” which is vital for man’s survival.
Maria Montessori said, “Love is a gift to mankind, which must be treasured and developed to the fullest possible extent, for it is this that unites each and every one of us, and only in this way can we bring about a good, caring, peaceful world.”
Art / Music
All children need to draw and paint, to model and carve. These activities help get rid of tensions and frustrations, develop concentration, exercise the muscles and most importantly as a way of manipulation and learning to control part of the environment. These activities allow the child to express him/herself.
Piaget said, “The principal goal of creation is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done but men who are creative, inventive and discovers”.