“When a child is given a little leeway, he will at once shout, “I want to do it!” But in our schools, which have an environment adapted to children’s needs, they say, “Help me do it alone.” And these words reveal their inner needs.” (Maria Montessori)
Wonderful teachers prepare the environment where we work daily, with extra care, in order to allow children to unleash their creative force and potential, to improve self-confidence and the spirit of independence, inspiring self-discipline and a love for learning that will last for a lifetime.
The Montessori environment is adapted to the child’s development needs and to his interest, pursuing each child’s natural tendencies and sensitive periods. The child himself can choose between practical life activities, language, cultural activities, sensorial development and mathematics. The furniture is specially designed to be accessible to children, facilitating their access to the materials and the activities prepared. The objects in the environment are real, natural and functional.
You can’t measure the joy and self-esteem each child feels when he can prepare a fruit snack, an orange juice for himself or when he discovers that he can write!
At the kindergarten, children are encouraged to find solutions to their problems; they can feel self-esteem and respect for the others. At home, the parents can continue to cultivate the same spirit and they can decorate the child’s room and the house so that they stimulate independence: the clothes and shoes arranged at their level of reach, a bookshelf, toy baskets, CDs with music at their disposal, access to the kitchen to arrange and clean up the meal, to wash dishes and even to cook. Through these activities we also consolidate the bond between the parent and the child: the parent learns how to listen to the child, is patient and understanding; the child feels loved and respected, is confident and full of creative energy.
… We can say that the Montessori environment is the children’s joy and the adults’ serenity!
The Toddler Group (18 - 36 months) – Ladybugs
According to the Montessori philosophy, the children absorb the most information form the surrounding environment during their first three years of life and they learn concepts and habits effortlessly. This is the period when the seeds for the love of knowledge and learning are planted.
“The first essential for the child’s development is concentration. It lays the whole basis for his character and social behaviour. He must find out how to concentrate, and for this he needs things to concentrate upon.
The child whose attention has once been held by a chosen object, while he concentrates his whole self on the repetition of the exercise, is a delivered soul in the sense of the spiritual safety of which we speak. From this moment there is no need to worry about him - except to prepare an environment which satisfies his needs, and to remove obstacles which may bar his way to perfection." (Maria Montessori, 'Absorbent Mind’)
The environment in the classroom is arranged carefully in order to satisfy the children’s needs, to offer them the necessary comfort, and is equipped with furniture appropriate for their age, and materials that are carefully selected and intended to facilitate movement and the improvement of the child’s capacity to concentrate.
When things are well organized, balance and harmony come naturally and the child gains self-confidence and confidence in the environment in which he is developing, and these trigger this type of attitude: “I can do it by myself!”
Our teachers, trained in the Montessori education, use Montessori materials appropriate for the children’s age and stage of development, and the activities are designed to raise children’s interest and commitment.
The Curriculum areas are: the improvement of the eye-hand coordination, practical life (care of the person, care of the environment, carrying objects, food, grace and courtesy), language, art & music. All these are introduced according to the child’s age and development stage in order to consolidate his self-confidence, independence and awareness of the surrounding environment.
This programme is an extension of the family environment. We encourage parents to actively participate to develop their children’s intelligence, discipline and personality.
The Primary Group (3 - 6 years) – The Fireflies
We must help the child to act for himself, will for himself, think for himself; this is the art of those who aspire to serve the spirit.
Let’s not educate our children for the world that exists today. This world will no longer be here when they grow, and nothing can tell us what their world would be like. Then let’s teach them how to adapt. "- (Maria Montessori, "The discovery of the child").
By having the chance to select the activities they want and be able to move around the classroom, the children grow fond of the satisfaction of learning and of finding out and they get a feeling of independence and freedom. Thus, the prepared environment carefully set in the nursery school becomes an exploration and discovery laboratory.
The children learn about all areas by using the materials displayed at their reach, through direct interaction with the prepared environment.
At this point, we are escorting the child along the evolution of the complex coordination between the intellect and the body, coordination that takes place during the first years of life.
By undertaking individual observations, the Montessori trained teachers guide the child towards lessons appropriate to his natural development and learning pace. The prepared environment is designed for the child’s natural development in a setting where the teacher interferes at the right time, gently and with a clear purpose.
We consider that the secret of a good teacher is that of guiding and accompanying the child physically and intellectually in order to direct the teaching process in the right way. Our teachers play different roles: they can be mentors, guides, trainers, sportspeople.
Thus, in our kindergarten, there are 5 curricular areas typical to Montessori education:
Practical life – is the foundation stone for the prepared environment. The children start with the practical life exercises in order to form a solid ground for the other areas, and to help them grow independent, self-confident, tidy and to be able to focus. The practical exercises are introduced to the child in the well prepared Montessori environment.
Sensorial development – through sensorial development exercises, the child is able to make classifications, to put things in order and to describe sensory feelings about the information gained up to that point in terms of sensorial perception: seeing, hearing, smell, taste and touch. The sensorial materials help create an order in the child’s head by isolating and emphasizing a feature at a specific time (e.g. size, texture etc.)
Through physical manipulation of the materials characteristic to this curricular area, the child starts classifying and arranging the objects, which leads to a better understanding of their function in the universe.
Language development: By the age of 3, the child has already assimilated the basic spoken language. The language development exercises are presented to the children as a support for their personal development process, which takes place in an unconscious natural spontaneous way. Through exercises and specific materials, the children expand their vocabulary, and learn how to read and write.
Mathematics – we are all mathematicians by default. We are born with a mathematical mind and we need a stimulus to awaken this capacity. Through specific exercises, the child is getting ready for the emergence of the mathematical mind that already exists within him. These exercises are the foundation of the future abstract mathematical thinking.
Sciences and cultural activities– the sciences are: biology, zoology, geography, history, art and music. These activities are interdisciplinary. Through language and sensorial activities the children gather knowledge about the surrounding world and they expand their vocabulary. Art cultivates creativity and the aesthetic sense in children, while music helps them internalize sounds.