Dr.Maria Montessori developed her philosophy of education with a thorough understanding of the developmental stages of the child. Her approach meets each individual child's social, emotional, physical and intellectual needs.
THE MONTESSORI APPROACH
Dr. Maria Montessori observed that children under six have an extraordinary ability to absorb knowledge from their surroundings and are driven to do so. She called this the "absorbent mind" and recognized that the young child's brain is more capable of learning certain skills during these years that it will be ever be again. In Montessori Education children's innate love of learning and desire to explore are nutured by opportunities to spontaneously choose and engage in meaningful activities.
The Montessori learning materials provide reasons for children to touch, manipulate and learn as their interest and curiousity directs their activity. The Montessori program has a focus on learning practical self help skills; practise discriminating sizes, shapes, colours; learn phonetic sounds of the alphabet, print begin to write stories and read, count, learn number symbols, explore arithmetic; discover botany, zoology and geography with hands-on materials. All this is done under the guidance on a trained Montessori Directress, who creates a joy of learning. Through their own efforts they develop self discipline and an ability to concentrate.
Montessori education ensures the development of self esteem and provides experience from which children build their knowledge base. They go beyond learning skills to begin cultivating their abilities to express themselves and think clearly. in the Montessori multi-age setting, they learn both from each other and because of each other through their relationships, helping friends and peer-teaching.
THE CASA PROGRAM
Children are generally accepted into the program between the ages of 2 ½ and 6 years, and benefit from the experience of remaining in the same classroom through a three year cycle. At this early age, the child is developing the intellectual skills of concentration, perception and mental organization. The personal skills of physical coordination, social awareness, independence, initiative, self-confidence and self-discipline are also learned at this time.
The children are placed in classrooms with multi-age groupings of 2 ½ to 6 years, enabling them to interact with each other, becoming at once, learners and mentors. A Montessori program is most advantageous for the child who attends school on a regular plan of half or full days. This consistency allows the Directress to design the curriculum around the child's individual needs and stages of development. A full day program is highly recommended for the child who is over 4 years of age.
There are five main areas in the curriculum, each contributing to the development of the child as a whole: