“The child who has never learned to act alone, to direct his own actions, to govern his own will, grows into an adult who is easily led and must lean upon others.”
Maria Montessori, Peace and Education (1975, p 23)
Babies until 18 months
The area of Montessori named "Nido" derives from the Italian for "Nest". Specifically, it is for babies who have not yet taken their first steps or are not yet confident at walking. Generally, confidence in walking is reached at around 18 months old.
This environment provides a calm and peaceful space where babies are able to discover themselves and enjoy their relationship with their family. Essential within this environment is the presence of stability and order because it enables the baby to orientate and begin exploring in complete safety. At the same time, they are able to build themselves psychically in a serene atmosphere.
From the moment the child's first steps are taken, and for a period following this of about six months, the child will be obsessed by learning their newfound freedom of movement.
Central to the Montessori education concept is the understanding of what are called "sensitive periods" and these are a crucial point in the child's learning process. Each child goes through periods of learning which can be short or long. These are observed carefully because during them the obvious interests of a child can be distinguished. Through giving the child appropriate material and creating the correct situations, learning for the child can be made easy.
Interestingly, the most recent research in Montessori has allowed us to go further in this period of walking. We are able to propose a specific environment to develop the motor skills of children between 12 and 18 months in a dedicated area.
Infant Community (Toddlers)
Between 18 months and 3 years old
From the time the child is able to walk, the child enters an environment named "Infant Community" and here they learn what in Montessori is called "practical life". The environment is designed for the child to move around at ease and carry out various activities which enable them to discover their environment and culture. Within this environment they will conquer their first functional independence.
The environment of the "Infant Community" is quite similar what the child will find at home. However, everything here is tailored to the child. Here they are taught to repeat daily the same gestures that will enable them to feel at ease in their environment by the age of 3.
Infant Community gives large amounts of attention attention to their development of spoken language at this age. Thanks to an absorbent mind, the child is able to acquire many languages provided they are surrounded by a rich enough environment.
Between 3 and 6 years old
Children's House will be home to the child between the ages of 3 and 6 years old and is the most popular Montessori environment. The environment is prepared into five primary learning areas: practical life, sensory, mathematics, language, and culture.
The Practical Life
This is for the youngest or for children who feel the need to return. Repetition favours the learning of concentration.
The Sensorial Area
This area features many of the materials that have made the Montessori pedagogy famous. This area focuses on tasks and activities that help children develop their five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. The activities provided help children better clarify, classify, and understand the world around them.
The Mathematics area
In this area, the child will learn valuable skills that will enable them to master math later on in their education. Our materials are designed to be self-correcting and this encourages the child become an independent learner because the child can see for themselves if they made a mistake, and then correct it.
The Language Area
This area is designed to teach children the intricacies of both the written and the spoken language. A strong grasp of writing and speaking will provide a strong foundation for students to progress with their learning. In this area, students use dedicated Montessori language materials to explore letters, sounds, handwriting, and eventually spelling and writing.
The Cultural Area
This area of the classroom encompasses a variety of subjects that are supplementary to the Montessori method. Cultural subjects include Geography, Science, Botany, Zoology, and Art & Music. Exploration of these subjects provide children with a valuable opportunity to explore and build upon their individual curiosities for different worldly ideas.
In each area, Montessori teaching materials are arranged in a precise order and not simply to attract the child child's interest. The areas are setup to respect their sense of order and their need for orientation.
Crucially, the child learns at their own pace as the educator presents them with the materials. Learning takes place primarily on an individual basis until the age of 5 when children begin to express an interest in working in groups.
"Eigentlich hat ein Kind nur eine vernünftige Vorstellung von diesen Proportionen. Aber sein Verstand wird auf die grundlegenden Prinzipien geschult, die den Weg für die Mathematik bereiten. "