Montessori Pre-School and Kindergarten program (ages 3 to 6)
Practical Life Exercises
Practical life exercises are designed to teach children life skills. They include daily practical life skills, such as care for self, care for environment, and grace and courtesy. These exercises improve children’s hand-eye coordination and develop their spatial awareness. The exercises also refine their gross and fine motor skills. Through these exercises, children’s confidence and self-image is enhanced. In addition, practical life exercises help a child’s concentration, his or her search for independence, and ultimately lead to self-mastery. These exercises are vitally important to a child. Without the foundation of these exercises, a child will not be ready for sensorial development and may even have problems later in academic areas. (Maria Montessori, Discovery of the Child, Ch.3, ‘Teaching Methods.’, p. 51).
Sensorial exercises are designed to enhance children’s five senses. The materials used consist of several wooden apparatus, which are used by the children to feel and explore with their hands. These apparatus enhance children’s intelligence by developing their comparing and discriminating power through object qualities, such as shape, size, color, and number, as well as sound, taste, and smell and by naming different qualities. Through hands-on work, children’s concentration can also be developed. Practice in sensorial exercises develops finger dexterity, gives a real mental foundation for geometry, and enhances the power of visual discrimination. This sensorial approach helps to prepare children for future writing (The Absorbent Mind, Ch.17, ‘Further Elaboration….’, p.156).
In the Montessori Method of education, reading is taught by the ‘Phonetic’ method. ‘Phonetic’ means ‘by sound’, and our whole system for teaching reading is based on teaching the child the sounds made by each letter of the alphabet. This is done, first of all, by a piece of apparatus called ‘the sandpaper letters’. We use the sandpaper letters when we are presenting one sound or each letter. Later, we teach one sound for groups of two or more letters. These groups, called ‘phonograms’, are presented separately to the child.
The Montessori apparatus helps to teach children number concepts. Recognizing numbers used for counting is the fundamental concept before Math. The Montessori way of counting is to put concrete materials and abstract numbers together to help children to internalize the numbers into later Math concepts. The children will visualize that small numbers will have smaller quantities, and vice versa. Therefore, children will not only learn counting numbers by memorization, but by internalization.
Cultural subjects are the areas of knowledge that enrich the child’s understanding of all aspects of the world in which he or she lives. In this area we include the various branches of science, history, geography, botany, zoology, music, art, craft, and physical education – any subject, in fact, which may enrich the mind of the child.