his or her world. Although individualized instruction is emphasized in the Kensington Montessori classroom, group collaboration and cooperative learning are also encouraged, and children often engage in small group work.
A well-established fact is that pre-school children mature at very different rates, and their periods of readiness for academic subjects vary a great deal. Knowing this, Maria Montessori believed that learning experiences should not be tedious, but should occur naturally and joyfully at the proper moment for each individual child. The Montessori approach to education teaches children to think, to ask probing questions, and to seek creative answers.
Our early childhood class is organized into several curriculum areas, among them language arts, mathematics, everyday living skills, sensory awareness exercises, and culture (geography, science, social studies, art, music, movement). Simpler tasks are mastered before complex ones are introduced. Many materials involve the child in tasks that facilitate eye-hand coordination and small muscle control. Throughout the curriculum, one finds a variety of preparations that enhance the learning process. For example, our simple, everyday living exercises have complex aims: to develop order, concentration, coordination, and independence.
Carefully designed activities allow children to joyfully learn to care for themselves and for their class environment. The tasks of buttoning, transferring, polishing, and preparing all subconsciously develop accurate eye-hand abilities, which are later needed for reading, writing, and other academic pursuits. Children soon develop courtesy, graciousness, poise and self-control, since interest in purposeful activity usually promotes social maturity.
Our sensorial awareness exercises provide purposeful movement and aid in muscular coordination. Children become aware of details by learning to finely discriminate among textures, colors, and dimensions. They learn one-to-one correspondence in matching/sorting and grading/discerning differences tasks, both necessary in cognitive preparations. Intelligence is built up as the child learns to distinguish, categorize, and relate new information to what she or he already knows. Children move through the structured materials independently, challenging themselves and gaining confidence.
Our language arts area is designed to enrich a child’s vocabulary and conversation and to establish a personal interest in reading and reading comprehension. Children working with everyday living and sensorial foundation exercises develop many reading readiness skills. As the child shows an interest and a comprehension of activities preparatory to written language, the teacher provides opportunities to explore letter sounds and formation. The unique Montessori approach to language development is a carefully respectful, individualized response to each child’s natural desire to absorb language and communicate.
At Kensington Montessori of Laguna Niguel, we encourage children to experience choice and decision making, which empower them with intrinsic motivation and self-discipline, and strengthen their ability to think and act for themselves. We guide each child to “to do it by myself,” thus satiating the child’s basic need for independence. Additionally, by helping children believe that they are capable, competent, and confident, we help create positive attitudes toward learning that last a lifetime.
“Learning by doing” is the foundation of the Montessori approach. So our pre-school class is geared to the size, pace, and interests of boys and girls between the ages of three and six. Sounds and movements abound in the class as children actively explore, manipulate, and investigate in order to see, hear feel and personally know