Benefits of a Montessori Education
Montessori education offers our children opportunities to develop their potential as they step out into the world as engaged, competent, responsible, and respectful citizens with an understanding and appreciation that learning is for life.
Each child is valued as a unique individual. Montessori education recognizes that children learn in different ways, and accommodates all learning styles. Students are also free to learn at their own pace, each advancing through the curriculum as he is ready, guided by the teacher and an individualized learning plan.
Students are part of a close, caring community. The multi-age classroom—typically spanning 3 years—re-creates a family structure. Older students enjoy stature as mentors and role models; younger children feel supported and gain confidence about the challenges ahead. Teachers model respect, loving kindness, and a belief in peaceful conflict resolution.
Montessori students enjoy freedom within limits. Working within parameters set by their teachers, students are active participants in deciding what their focus of learning will be. Montessorians understand that internal satisfaction drives the child’s curiosity and interest and results in joyous learning that is sustainable over a lifetime.
Students are supported in becoming active seekers of knowledge. Teachers provide environments where students have the freedom and the tools to pursue answers to their own questions.
Self-correction and self-assessment are an integral part of the Montessori classroom approach. As they mature, students learn to look critically at their work, and become adept at recognizing, correcting, and learning from their errors.
Given the freedom and support to question, to probe deeply, and to make connections, Montessori students become confident, enthusiastic, self-directed learners. They are able to think critically, work collaboratively, and act boldly—a skill set for the 21st century.
The Forest Hills Montessori School Toddler environment is more than a mere classroom, it is a home away from home for children ages 15 months to 2.9 years old. Our classrooms are designed to meet the independent and curious nature of a toddler, allowing them to freely explore in a beautiful, carefully prepared environment that is just their size.
- Strengthen language skills
- Refine gross and fine motor skills
- Develop independence and confidence
- Practice social skills and caring for others
- Explore music, movement and literature
Under the careful guidance of Montessori-trained toddler teachers, our children engage in practical life pursuits, dressing, and hand washing, as well as pre-reading activities, puzzles, art, music, and conversation. Independence is fostered by allowing the child to choose from a variety of activities that he or she can accomplish with success. The daily practice of these activities enhances the child’s ability to communicate with confidence, move with grace, and develop self-reliance.
The adult-child ratio in the Toddler class is one adult for every four children, which enables the staff to give optimum supervision, personal care and a lap or hug for the very young child who requires it.
The classroom environment is designed on a very small scale so that feet can touch the floor and everything is in easy reach. The classroom belongs to the children; nothing in the room is off limits. Toddlers are particularly happy about that!
Toilet training is not a requirement, but is encouraged during the child’s time in the Toddler program. Parents are responsible for making the first introduction. Thereafter, the staff and parents work together.
The preschool community is primarily focused on five areas: practical life, sensorial, language, math, and cultural studies. The emphasis is on individual learning, though there are daily group lessons and social interactions. The children make choices in areas that are of the greatest interest to them. Once the activity is introduced, the teacher is able to withdraw and the child is able to work independently. The love of learning is fostered each day, and a spirit of respect and cooperation is developed.
As every parent knows, the preschool child wants to be with adults, to take part in the activities of daily adult life. The Montessori Practical Life materials allow children to do just that. When a child enters the preschool at three years of age, the Practical Life area provides the link between home and school. In the classroom, with child-sized tools that actually work, a young child is able to perform the same activities he has seen adults do: polishing, scrubbing, pouring, sweeping, etc. The pace is unhurried, and an adult is nearby to help if needed, but not to interfere. These exercises correspond to a child’s sensitive period for refinement of movement and coordination as well as his growing sense of independence. “I can do it myself” is the motto the young child, and Montessori encourages and fosters this independence.
Exploring the World … The world is color, size, dimension, shape, form, sound, touch, taste, and smell. In order to continue her creative task of development, a child needs to satisfy and express the impressions she has already received. The Sensorial Montessori materials use the child’s senses to clarify, classify, and comprehend the world. The Sensorial materials are specifically designed to teach multi- sensually and to educate the senses. By appealing directly to the young child’s active sensory antennae, learning is a natural result of the child’s desire to explore.
From Concrete to Abstract … Preschool-aged children have naturally mathematical minds. They have the capacity to reason, to calculate, and to estimate. They are intensely conscious of quantity, counting pebbles on the beach or cookies for dessert. The concrete Montessori Mathematical materials allow these sensorial explorers to begin their mathematical journey from the concrete to the abstract through manipulation, experimentation, and invention. The Mathematics materials build on each other in increasing complexity so that the child using them will experience the thrill of discovery for herself as part of a natural progression.
Language from Spoken to Written
The joy of learning is evident to all parents; there is always jubilation over a child’s first spoken word. The Montessori preschool classroom emphasizes spoken language as the foundation for all linguistic expression. Throughout the entire Montessori environment the child hears and uses precise vocabulary for all the activities. The child is encouraged to converse with peers and staff. Reading is taught phonetically as the child is ready. The concrete materials, from the sandpaper letters to the beginning of sentence analysis, allow the child to take small, logical, sequential steps to independent, fluent reading. Language work leads into cultural subjects, extending the child’s vocabulary and working with the child’s fascination of her environment.
Language and Reading
The vibrant conversations in the classroom lead to the formal teaching of reading. Reading is taught phonetically, following the natural sequence of oral language acquisition. The child progresses from spelling words to constructing sentences. The formal structured reading curriculum is supported by storytelling, poetry reading, and singing, thus fostering a joy and desire to understand the written word.
Art and Music
Integrated Into the Prepared Environment … The arts are not treated as specialty subjects in Montessori. Instead, art and music activities are viewed as integral forms of self expression, and they complement and enhance the children’s ongoing exploration, including the enrichment of vocabulary. The materials for art and music are integrated into the prepared environment as part of the day to day activities of the children.
The work of classification and language are extended in the Cultural area. Materials are available to enable scientific exploration of biology, geography, history, and physical/earth science. We have a “cosmic” approach which allows maps, flags, booklets, and models of land and water formation to be used by the children to explore the world’s continents and oceans, people and customs, leading to an appreciation of the human family with its rich variety.