Montessori Pre-School and Kindergarten program (ages 3 to 6)
Practical Life Exercises
Practical life exercises are designed to teach children life skills. They include daily practical life skills, such as care for self, care for environment, and grace and courtesy. These exercises improve children’s hand-eye coordination and develop their spatial awareness. The exercises also refine their gross and fine motor skills. Through these exercises, children’s confidence and self-image is enhanced. In addition, practical life exercises help a child’s concentration, his or her search for independence, and ultimately lead to self-mastery. These exercises are vitally important to a child. Without the foundation of these exercises, a child will not be ready for sensorial development and may even have problems later in academic areas. (Maria Montessori, Discovery of the Child, Ch.3, ‘Teaching Methods.’, p. 51).
Sensorial exercises are designed to enhance children’s five senses. The materials used consist of several wooden apparatus, which are used by the children to feel and explore with their hands. These apparatus enhance children’s intelligence by developing their comparing and discriminating power through object qualities, such as shape, size, color, and number, as well as sound, taste, and smell and by naming different qualities. Through hands-on work, children’s concentration can also be developed. Practice in sensorial exercises develops finger dexterity, gives a real mental foundation for geometry, and enhances the power of visual discrimination. This sensorial approach helps to prepare children for future writing (The Absorbent Mind, Ch.17, ‘Further Elaboration….’, p.156).
The Montessori apparatus helps to teach children number concepts. Recognizing numbers used for counting is the fundamental concept before Math. The Montessori way of counting is to put concrete materials and abstract numbers together to help children to internalize the numbers into later Math concepts. The children will visualize that small numbers will have smaller quantities, and vice versa. Therefore, children will not only learn counting numbers by memorization, but by internalization.
In the Montessori Method of education, reading is taught by the ‘Phonetic’ method. ‘Phonetic’ means ‘by sound’, and our whole system for teaching reading is based on teaching the child the sounds made by each letter of the alphabet. This is done, first of all, by a piece of apparatus called ‘the sandpaper letters’. We use the sandpaper letters when we are presenting one sound or each letter. Later, we teach one sound for groups of two or more letters. These groups, called ‘phonograms’, are presented separately to the child.
Cultural subjects are the areas of knowledge that enrich the child’s understanding of all aspects of the world in which he or she lives. In this area we include the various branches of science, history, geography, botany, zoology, music, art, craft, and physical education – any subject, in fact, which may enrich the mind of the child.
- Mandarin class
- Music class
Note: The program will include Bible stories which convey Christian values relating to kindness, loving, caring, co-operation and sharing.
Montessori is a philosophy and method of education which emphasizes the potential of the child and which develops this potential by utilizing specially trained teachers and specially designed teaching materials.
Montessori recognizes in each child a natural curiosity and desire to learn: the Montessori materials awaken this desire and channel this curiosity into a learning experience which each child can enjoy. Montessori materials help the child to better understand what they learn by associating an abstract concept with a concrete sensorial experience. In this manner, the Montessori child is actually learning, and not simply memorizing. The Montessori Method stresses that the child learns and progresses at their own pace so that fast learners are not held back and slow learners are not frustrated by their inability to keep up.
We ask parents why they choose a Montessori education and increasingly they cite their desire to prepare their children to live successfully in the world that will be their future. They’ve looked at the research showing the benefits of a Montessori education and many observe classroom activities where they see how an active role in one’s own learning results in a high level of academic development, social awareness and character development. Parents understand that in a constantly changing and complex world, knowing how to learn and how to integrate learning in one’s life are essential life skills. Parents also want their children in an environment where each child is valued and respected as an individual and for what the child can offer.
Montessori allows children to experience the excitement of learning by their own choice. Dr. Maria Montessori observed that it was easier for a child to learn a particular skill during the corresponding “sensitive period” than at any other time in life. These are periods of intense fascination for learning a particular skill and are an
optimal time to master a new ability. Montessori allows children the freedom to select individual activities which correspond to their own interest and readiness, allowing them to progress at their own pace. A child who acquires the basic skills of reading and arithmetic in this natural way has the advantage of beginning education without
drudgery, boredom, or discouragement.
Montessori is based on a profound respect for each child’s personality. Children make decisions about what they will learn, choosing activities on their own in the classroom. Children are allowed a large measure of independence which in turn forms the basis of self–discipline. As children complete the self-correcting exercises, they develop
confidence in their ability to understand what they are learning. Montessori presents endless opportunities among the children for mutual help, help which is joyfully given and joyfully received. Co–operative social interaction among children of different ages
engenders feelings of friendship, respect for the rights of others, and self-confidence. This approach helps eliminate the necessity for coercion, which often causes feelings of inferiority and stress for children.
Normalization refers to the focus, concentration, and independence of the children, by their own choice. It means they have acquired the internal freedom to initiate work, be independent, and adhere (by choice) to the rules of the environment. A well prepared Montessori environment facilitates the process of normalization by offering engaging, hands-on materials, three hour work cycles, and minimizing the disruption of concentration. Maria Montessori felt that a child’s troublesome behaviors disappeared when they experienced concentration on meaningful activities. Children do not benefit from troublesome and destructive behaviors; they become unhappy and form a habit that is later hard to change. In a normalized classroom you will see the following in the children: love of work, concentration, self-discipline and joy.
The Montessori environment includes a fine balance between structure and freedom. The concept of freedom, a freedom which entails responsibility, is gradually introduced from the time the children enter school. Montessori children have a wide variety of constructive paths to choose. They gain the skills and tools to accomplish their choices and are taught the social values that enable them to make enlightened choices. Freedom does not involve only being able to do what you want to do. It involves being able to distinguish what is constructive and beneficial and then being able to carry it out.