The Earth Tortoise School
"Our care for children should be governed not be the desire to 'make them learn things', but by the endeavor always to keep burning within them the light which is called intelligence." - Maria Montessori
As children’s abilities and interests expand, the Montessori Practical Life curriculum allows them to engage in both individual work and delve deeper into community oriented activities. The hand eye coordination developed in the toddler years will be refined with small objects, detailed multi-step activities, and contributing to the classroom and giving to one’s peers. Transfering, sewing, table scrubbing, preparing snacks, and taking care of animals are fulfilling to the primary aged child because they meet both their developmental drive for more complex fine motor activities and make them feel a part of a larger, interdependent community. The satisfaction of a job well done and making your friends feel good is unparalleled! And while the child is enjoying himself in this self-initiated work, he is developing the order, concentration, and hand and finger dexterity that will allow him to be successful in his writing endeavors later on.
The development of language - building a vocabulary, tuning into the rules of grammar, developing the ability to communicate your needs, thoughts, and ideas as well as listening to others is embedded into every area of the classroom and every minute of the day. In addition to the talking, story-telling, singing and games that happen all the time, categorizing, labeling, encoding and decoding can be found within all the curriculum areas. The classic Montessori language materials help children learn to hold a pencil, move their hands and wrists to make writing letters easier, recognizing letter sounds, exploring blending letter sounds to make words and eventually writing to communicate your own ideas.
Montessori Sensorial materials are designed to entice children to explore with their five senses and gain the experiences they need to develop the ability to discriminate between smaller and smaller differences - a skill essential to all learning. In addition to testing weights and grading colors, the children are also being introduced to the units of ten through hands on experiences: Ten incrementally sized pink cubes to stack, ten incrementally sized red rods to make a labyrinth, and ten incrementally sized brown prisms to make into stairs. With this conceptual knowledge ingrained into their bodies, children’s grasp of numbers when they are interested comes naturally and intuitively.
Math is often looked at as being “academic” but in the Montessori classroom, math is introduced in the form of manipulatives, games, and finally as the numeric system based on tens, hundreds, and thousands units. Freedom of choice throughout the classroom allows children the opportunity to see challenging activities and engage when they are ready - after watching others use these items or from simply being enticed by the beauty of the materials. The Montessori bead cabinet calls to all children - the colors of the beads, the sound and feel of them, the challenge of working with such small things is impossible to resist and the pride of counting to a hundred all by yourself is all the “reward” a child needs. In this way, math becomes a puzzle to master instead of a “problem” (often felt as a chore or inconvenience) to solve.
What in the toddler classroom is art, nature appreciation and developing love and empathy towards others expands in the preschool classroom in to learning about botany, zoology, earth science, geography, and social science: understanding the differences between an amphibian and a reptile or putting together a puzzle of all the countries in Africa; drawing the various leaf shapes or learning about volcanoes. In their exploration of the world around them, children also come to understand their place in that world. They develop exactness, appreciation and love.
The Montessori Method educares the “whole child”. By this Montessorians mean the physical, cognitive, social, emotional, artistic, and inner selves. Watching kind, respectful adults navigate relationships, with direct “grace and courtesy” lessons, by learning how to communicate with one’s peers, by exploring information about the natural world and its people, and with experiences of calm concentration, children develop both an inner peace and a caring, nurturing attitude towards everything around them. Art and music are an integral part of this experience. Maria Montessori believed and lectured that it is through the education of children that we can bring about World Peace. The Peace Education curriculum strives to do that every day.