We love the Montessori approach to learning in early childhood because we believe it is the most supportive of a child's natural drive to fulfill their curiosity through exploring the environment. Children love to challenge themselves. We invite children to find their next challenge and master it at their own pace, based on their own interests and curiosities. Fishtown Montessori values, trusts and cultivates this intrinsic motivation in hopes that our students will bring it well into their future to enjoy a lifetime of joyful learning.
With the guidance of our knowledgeable teachers and through interacting with Montessori materials children learn to care for themselves, others, and the environment while developing fine and gross motor abilities, social skills and emotional awareness. Children learn the foundations of academic knowledge such as literacy, math, science and cultural studies with excitement, comfort and enjoyment. Similarly, principles of creative expression are presented in a way that the children are free to challenge and express themselves while exploring fine arts, music, dance, drama, yoga, etc. We believe that the arts and creative expression are equally important as academic understanding, therefore our curriculum is presented with this balance in mind.
A Note on the Learning Process in a Montessori Classroom
In a Montessori classroom, children learn by interacting with the materials in the classroom environment. These materials were designed by Dr. Maria Montessori who spent a lifetime observing children, watching them learn, and designing "work" based on her observations. Montessori determined that children learn from simple to complex, and from concrete to abstract. Teachers prepare the classroom to present materials on the shelves that range from simple and concrete, to complex and abstract. Because of this, the Montessori classroom can cater to the needs of a variety of ages and developmental stages simultaneously.
It is a natural progression for the younger kids to choose the simple concrete tasks such as counting out wooden dowels. The older kids have already mastered the dowel counting so they are naturally drawn to the more complex and abstract work, such as labeling quantities with numerals or adding dowels together and labeling the sum. Over time, children experience success and confidence in doing even better than their personal best, and internal motivation becomes a norm for them. Children don't “do math” to please their teacher, they do it because they have a natural motivation to solve problems and they find pleasure in doing so.
It should be noted that when we refer to "work" in the Montessori world, we are really talking about the materials displayed on shelves that are available to the children to engage with. Is washing a baby doll in a basin hard work to a toddler? No! It's an enjoyable and engaging activity that results in feelings of accomplishment and pride. Is drawing “rainbow letters” a tough task for a three or four year old? No! It's a personal challenge in fine motor skills and a creative exploration into the foundations of our language. Children engage with materials in a playful way and establish positive feelings about learning at school.
Our school is a member of the American Montessori Society. To learn more about the Montessori approach to early learning, you can visit the American Montessori Society's website http://amshq.org/Montessori-Education and take a look at some of our favorite videos on Montessori education below.