“Love the lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” -Mark 12:30 The Bible is taught, modeled and lived as God’s truth to allow God’s word to transform each of us into His image! We believe that we must be able to see each child and each other as Jesus sees us. We incorporate the Bible into every aspect of our learning environment by reading the Word, prayer, modeling Christ like behavior, memory verses and by attending Chapel once a week.
The work in Practical life includes materials that are familiar to a child’s daily living. This work includes Care of Self, Care of Environment, and Grace & Courtesy. Such as; grasping, pouring, buttoning, tying, hand washing, sweeping, folding, sponging, grace and courtesy. The child needs to master the skills in practical life to help him/her to be more successful in math, language, writing, and reading and in life.
Maria Montessori believed a child learns from his/her environment by absorbing every aspect of their environment through all of their senses. Through her observations of children, she developed the “Sensorial” materials. These didactic materials allow the child to discriminate colors, shapes, size, weight, odors, etc., through their senses one particular quality at a time, The didactic materials are made to educate and refine the child’s senses which will allow the child to consciously put his/her environment into order. Each sensorial material isolates one particular quality to be learned by stimulating one of the senses at a time; the materials are self-correcting and call out to the child. A child uses the material repetitively until his/her sensitive period is satisfied. The mastery of these materials is essential to the child’s success with math, language and writing.
The Math materials bring math concepts to life for children, which allow them to hold, touch, manipulate, and build a strong foundation for math. The materials in math are similar to the other Montessori materials; they go from concrete to abstract principles. For example, the use of the golden bead material is used to introduce 4-digit addition, which allows the child to see, feel, and to physically combine the quantity. The child can then do this math work on paper. It amazes me how easy it is for children of 3-5 years old to absorb these abstract concepts with such ease. The math work is so much fun! Each piece of the math materials is built upon the previous concept learned and built upon the work mastered in practical life and in sensorial. The math materials introduce and assist in further development and understanding of the following concepts; numeration, decimal system, and fractions.
In Language there is the development of speaking, writing and reading. All children learn to speak their native tongue before they can read or write. Reading and writing seem to develop between the ages of 3 ½ to 5 years old. Some children begin to read and write simultaneously, while others begin one before the other. There is no set rule on which develops first. In a Montessori classroom environment the teacher and every other material in Practical life and Sensorial has been preparing the child for reading and writing. As in Math and Sensorial, Maria Montessori developed concrete materials that assist in refining the senses for reading and writing. The teacher models the spoken language in the classroom. In writing a child is introduced to tracing the sandpaper letters which teaches the hand movement of a letter. The child has also been strengthening his/her fine motor skills through the entire Practical life and Sensorial work. These exercises allow the child the muscle control needed to hold a writing tool. In preparation for reading a child has been refining his visual sense through the sensorial materials and pre-reading exercises. These materials assist the child in visual discrimination, for example, differentiating from the letter “a” and “c”. The development of vocabulary, sequencing, working from left to right and following directions are learned through the many different materials and activities in the classroom, individually or in small group lessons. The introduction to sandpaper letters teaches writing and reading at the same time. We have a phonetic reading program that teaches the sounds of the letters to prepare the child for reading. For writing, we introduce both cursive and print sandpaper letters. We introduce cursive letters because it flows with the child’s natural ability to write and as the child gets introduced to print, the writing is done with such precision! It is amazing to watch a child explode into writing at this age!
The Teacher is responsible for preparing a learning environment that meets each child’s needs and will become the link between the environment and the children. The teacher’s purpose is to see each child as God sees them, to model and guide Christ-like behavior, to observe, to give lessons and track each child’s progress. Lessons can be given in a group circle, a small group or individually. In one of Maria Montessori’s books she declares: “Teach, teaching, not correcting.” “But the ideal as well as the practice, is that as time goes on-the child should become the more active partner and the teacher the more passive. Since her aim is to foster the child’s independence, free choice and spontaneous activity, she will be successful only in so far as the transference of roles takes place. In this connection Dr. Montessori often quoted the words of John the Baptist (spoken in reference to the Messiah): “He must increase and I must decrease.” The directress (teacher) rejoices when she finds the child progressing on his way alone. The most successful directress (teacher) is the one who at times (though it will never be for long) sees all her tiny charges concentrating on their work independently of her. She knows well that, when they are working in this way, they are advancing more swiftly and more surely along the path of development than at any other time.” (Maria Montessori, Her Life and Work by E.M. Standing, p.303)