Maria Montessori believed that language is innate and it is in the nature of humans to express themselves both orally and through the written word. The Montessori Language Arts curriculum, therefore, starts the moment the child first enters the environment.
Tui’s Nest Montessori Language: Ages 0-3
Montessori believed that the sensitive period for language begins at birth and continues to about six years of age. From birth, the child has been absorbing the sounds and speech patterns of family and home environment. Long before being able to speak, the child listened intently while acquiring the sounds of her native language. Babies learn to recognize and repeat the individual sounds of their language and toddlers learn to recognize, name, and pronounce the names of objects in their environment.
Montessori Infant/Toddler environment, daily exposure to language through conversations and the reading of good literature helps the child strengthen her vocabulary and increases independence as she becomes more cognizant of the world around her, giving her the ability to name her wishes and desires.
Whare Keas Montessori Language: Ages 3-6
The Montessori 3-6 classroom is a natural extension of the patterns of communication that have already been absorbed. Through every conversation, every book read aloud, every new word that is taught, the Montessori student is learning language, and thus, learning to read. In the Whare Keas environment, emphasis is placed on the process of acquiring language.
Knowledge is constructed by mental and physical activity rather than on passive learning. Writing is taught before reading through the direct and indirect aims of the Montessori Practical Life and Sensorial works. In the Montessori 3-6 Language curriculum, writing itself is seen as a direct preparation for reading.
Montessori parents and educators use precise language that is neither too simplified or given to baby-talk in order to give credence to the work the child is doing to acquire vocabulary and language skills. As Montessori educators, we help the child to focus her attention to the sound of her own speech, making fine distinctions between sounds.
From our attention in oral language development emerges the child’s need to write. Written symbols are introduced and from there, the child bursts spontaneously into reading.
Montessori Numeracy: Ages 0-6
Maria Montessori believed that the children can absorb mathematical concepts naturally. She recognized that there were sensitive periods in the child’s development whereby the acquisition of mathematics was eagerly and joyfully explored through indirect preparation and repetition of activities with concrete, scientifically developed didactic materials. By means of the Montessori Practical Life and Sensorial activities, children experience the concepts of order, sequence, measurement, calculations, and exactness.
In order to fully develop the developing mathematical mind, Montessori teachers and parents acquaint the child with order and exactness by the intentional way we set up and organize the shelves and trays and how work is laid out on a work mat in the Montessori environment. Work is displayed in a progressive and sequential fashion and each activity is broken down into logical and sequential steps. Young Montessori students learn about making calculations and estimating by determining how many drops of water it takes to fill a vessel and about precision and exactness by learning to measure out drops of food coloring or plant food. These Montessori Practical Life activities not only help the child gain independence, but also provide the indirect preparation for higher level maths skills.
The Montessori Sensorial activities help the child learn to discriminate between similarities and differences. Young Montessori students discover relationships, make scientific hypothesis, and draw conclusions as they construct and compare a series of sensorial activities. The activities heighten the child’s awareness of the mathematical relationships found in the natural world.
As the child develops in the Montessori environment, she is ready to encounter more concrete maths materials in which to explore more abstract thought, beginning with quantity. Dr. Montessori discovered that a child who could count and recognize the symbols 1-9 could count in quantities of hundreds and thousands. The Montessori “Golden Bead” material was developed to give children the concrete exploration of the decimal system.