The Montessori Curriculum
Dr. Montessori developed structured exercises and activities for the classroom to help the child satisfy his need for meaningful work.
For the young child there is something special about tasks, which an adult considers ordinary, such as washing dishes and polishing shoes. They are exciting to the child because they allow him to imitate adults and gain his independence. Although the Practical Life exercises may seem simple and common place, each task indirectly prepares the child for reading, writing and mathematics, laying foundations on which to build for future learning and life.
"...in the Children's Houses real everyday life is carried on in which all housework is entrusted to the little ones, who execute with devotion and accuracy their domestic duties, becoming singularly calm and dignified." Dr Maria Montessori
A young child meets the world through the constant use of his senses. Montessori felt that this was the optimum time to give the child activities which would enable him to understand the many impressions he receives through them. The Sensorial activities in the Montessori classroom help the child to become aware of detail by offering him, at first, strongly contrasting sensations slowly becoming more subtle.
"What we call education of the senses is in reality an aid to the construction of intelligence." Dr Maria Montessori
A child's language is crucial for all areas of his development. Montessori believed that the child's language needed to be constantly supported from birth. The Montessori prepared environment lays solid foundations for reading, writing, increased vocabulary and listening skills. Through the non-competitive and individual approach, the child gains a real enthusiasm for language in all its forms.
"We say that he is blessed with hearing and listens to human voices, but, even admitting this, we must still ask how it is that among the thousands of sounds and noises that surrounds them he hears and reproduces only those of the human voice." Dr Maria Montessori
Montessori demonstrated that if a child is given access to mathematical activities in his early years he can easily and joyfully assimilate many facts and skills. These activity give him the satisfaction of learning by discovery rather than being taught. He therefore maintains an early enthusiasm and a positive feeling for the world of numbers.
"Mathematics is so often held to be a scourge rather than a pleasure in school programmes .... most people have developed mental barriers against it. Yet all is easy if only its roots can be implanted in the absorbent mind." Dr Maria Montessori
Montessori believed that through culture we become thoroughly educated. She described the cultural curriculum as a seed, planted at an early age. The child can classify and clarify the world around him and can adapt himself to his place in society.
"Let us give the child a vision of the whole Universe ... the Universe is an imposing reality, and an answer to all questions. we shall walk together on this path of life; but all things are part of the Universe and are connected with one another to form one unity." E.M. Standing