In a Montessori environment, we believe that everyone, including the very young child, has a natural tendency toward and desire for order, sequencing, categorizing, and logic. This is why we present mathematical concepts in very concrete terms. Using the Montessori mathematical equipment, the child not only sees the concept, he begins to internalize it and understand it. Concepts are presented in a distinct progression, from the most concrete, big picture ideas to more abstract ideas with greater details.
The Language Arts area of the classroom helps young children develop the skills necessary for reading and writing, as well as their listening and speaking skills. Instead of simply memorizing the letters of the alphabet, students listen to the sounds that each letter makes and say words that begin with those sounds, all while tracing the corresponding “Sand Paper Letters” with their fingers. Students use their newly acquired skills with letter/sound associations to build words with “The Moveable Alphabet,” and then move on to writing. On a daily basis, teachers read books to the children and introduce concepts such as rhyming, word patterns, and comprehension strategies to help students recall the events in a story or predict what comes next. While it may seem like one day your 4 year old suddenly starts reading, really, she has been reading all along!
The Sensorial Area includes scientifically designed objects, grouped together according to physical qualities such as color, shape, size, sound, texture, weight, temperature, or smell. These materials help children explore their environment by using their five senses in a clear and meaningful way; teaching them to classify and categorize according to size, dimension, and geometric shape.
The Practical Life exercises are the foundation for all the other areas of the classroom. Young children delight in this type of work and revel in their growing competency. Activities such as carrying, pouring, sorting, balancing, food preparation, washing, folding, hammering, planting, sewing, buttoning, and bow tying allow children to explore and discover the wide range of tools, utensils, and procedures people use in the tasks of daily life. On a subconscious level, the aim of the Practical Life area is to help develop coordination, concentration, order, and independence. Many of the “works” are specifically designed to instill a left to right, top to bottom order to the work, which prepares students for reading. Many of the works are designed to develop the strength and coordination of the fingers and hand that are necessary for writing.