Philosophy and Curriculum
“Education is not something which the teacher does, but it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being. It is not acquired by listening to words, but by virtue of experiences in which the child acts on his [/her/their] environment. Our educational aim with very young children must be to aid the spontaneous development of the mental, spiritual and physical personality.”
— Dr. Maria Montessori
The Montessori method is about the development of the whole child – physically, socially, emotionally, and cognitively. Classrooms at MDS hum with free yet purposeful activity as children make choices about their work and play, learning everything from polite manners and self-care to geography, biology, number and letter skills and much more, all at a self-selected pace.
A Montessori Primary Class
vs. a Typical Preschool Class
Montessori Primary Class
Threes, fours and fives enjoy working together in an enriched, family-style learning environment. Youngers often learn from watching older children, and older ones reinforce their own skills as they model them. Varied learning materials engage learners of several ages.
In Montessori classrooms, teachers invite children to one-to-one and small group lessons based on, and fostering, each child’s emerging interests and level of readiness. Children have opportunities to learn number concepts, reading, and writing – each at his or her own pace. Group times are brief.
Montessori children use materials that engage the senses: sight, touch, hearing, smell, and even taste. Art, music, and movement are built into every school day, but best of all, children have time and space in the daily Montessori work cycle to observe and explore: they are not over-scheduled or forced to hustle from one thing to the next. They can enjoy freedom within structure, while also learning social skills in a peaceful, self-regulated classroom community.
Typical Preschool Class
A strict age cut-off policy for admission to a Pre-K program implies that all children born in the same calendar year will learn the same things at the same time. The setting is geared to what an average four-year-child should know and be able to do.
Whole Group Instruction
In Pre-K settings, teachers tend to spend more time on whole group lessons: all children gather and listen to directions, and then each child may take a turn at the activity in group or as individual work. There is more emphasis on having to sit and wait patiently before the action begins.
Listening and Looking
Pre-K classes typically do include appropriate hands-on materials and learning centers, and participants have opportunities to play and learn. However, the schedule includes more daily activities and therefore more interruptions to children’s work. Teachers give whole-group directions more frequently, and children first of all need to listen, observe, and follow adults' directions.