IN THE BBM CLASSROOM
The primary goal of the Montessori environment is to encourage children to concentrate. While working on self-chosen work the children willingly engage in tasks or special interest study. When a child feels empowered by his or her own choices that child will self-correct and persevere through mistakes. These are the essential skills and study behaviors that your child needs to learn anything.
The children are in a mixed age environment in which they see various works going on simultaneously. The children broaden their own exposure just by observing what friends are doing. The mixed age environment also lends itself to leadership roles for the older students to offer lessons to younger students. Lessons are not solely given by the guide (or teacher). In this way, a Montessori classroom works more like the structure of a family rather than a traditional classroom.
Our Montessori classroom has several areas of study.
This area of the classroom offers children lessons with purposeful activities for daily life. Examples include:
- Self-care tasks such as dressing are taught with buttons, a zipper and bow frames.
- Tool usage is taught with scissors, hammers or other utensils.
- Children learn food preparation such as coring an apple or spreading butter on bread.
- Children learn to care for their environment through lessons on sweeping or washing.
The practical life lessons are meant to promote the child's independence as well as give the child an awareness of his or her environment. While working on these skills, the children are acquiring control of movement, strengthening their concentration and gaining an understanding of how the classroom work cycle proceeds.
The sensorial area of the classroom utilizes the visual, tactile, auditory, olfatory (smell), gustatory (taste), thermic (temperature), baric (weight), stereognostic (muscular memory) and chromatic (color) senses to enable the child to gather information, classify the information and express his or her impressions.
The child will realize such concepts as size, shape, color, taste and sound. This awareness forms the basis of other skills such as visual perception, music, language and hand-eye coordination. This area of the classroom will not make a child’s eyes or ears stronger but it will provide an experience for a child to see various shades of a color or hear varying sounds in pitch. A child that has developed and expanded his or her sense perceptions during this sensitive period will also acquire an inner mental order and clarity. This inner sense of order is the cornerstone for later intellectual development.
Geography and Culture
In the Montessori geography curriculum, spatial orientation, cartography (map making), cultural, social and economic geography, as well as cultural tolerance and peace education are all incorporated into the classroom.
Montessori geography has two primary objectives, (1) spatial orientation and (2) awareness and acceptance of other cultures. For example, while learning about his or her own body, the children are developing a sense of order both internally and externally. Internal order being relative to position. External order being the awareness of similarities existing among human beings. Students are in a sensitive period for order in their environment and are therefore eager to learn such information.
In order to facilitate the development of oral language the children are exposed to pictures, stories and objects to generate thoughts and discussion as well as given the proper vocabulary terms to broaden their frame of reference. Vivid pictures, books with beautiful illustrations and items such as those found in nature are displayed in the classroom with the proper nomenclature being offered. The children engage in discussion throughout the day. They are offered ample opportunity individually or as a group to share their thoughts and ideas.
Sandpaper letters are used to introduce letters as a sound (auditory sense) and symbol (visual and tactile senses). The purpose of introducing the individual sounds of the alphabet in this manner is to associate the alphabetical symbol with its corresponding phonetic sound, build muscle and visual memory of the shapes of the letters and prepare the child for writing. Once 10-15 sandpaper letters have been introduced the children will be guided toward writing with the moveable alphabet. The children will develop their skills at blending sounds in preparation for reading.
By preparing the hand to manipulate (motor skills), the eyes (visual skills) and mind (comprehension skills) to see things distinctly and as a group and creating an awareness of sound (auditory skills) the entire Montessori classroom prepares the child for the complex skills of reading and writing.
A key attribute of the Montessori math introduction is isolation of concept. In math, isolation of concept means introducing the quantity concept and the numerical symbol concept separately. This is particularly helpful to a child under six because the child will more readily understand one new concept at a time, rather than two simultaneously. The child can then organize his or her perceptions of the materials in such a way that they may progress to more abstract thinking more easily.
Preparing the mind for abstract thinking is the core of all the Montessori math lessons. Through the didactic materials in the Montessori classroom the children are experiencing math concepts in a very concrete way. The children become so familiar with these concepts by seeing and feeling them that soon a mental image forms. From the mental image of the number or mathematical concept the children generate their own ideas.