The Montessori Early Learning Center offers a preschool and childcare program based on the philosophy, psychological principles and teaching methods developed by Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952), as well as research and contemporary thinking in the area of early childhood education.
Based on the child's natural development, Montessori education challenges the child's growth potential through systematic use of specially designed materials and activities, available to the child in an organized "prepared environment." Intrinsically motivated and curious to explore, the child learns through direct experiences and activities in his/her environment. This self-education establishes a sense of order, logical thought processes and a firm foundation for future success in academics.
Dr. Montessori viewed education not as an end to itself, but as an aid to life. Montessori education focuses on the individual child in the social setting of a group.
The classroom can be viewed as an organized society of small children with the directress guiding the children at their own paces according to their interests and abilities.
With freedom of choice and movement, each child finds that he can learn from and contribute to others, thus developing the self-confidence needed for continued development.
The Montessori classroom can be viewed as a "discovery center" for young children prepared by trained educators. The children are invited and encouraged to explore, experiment, examine, manipulate and experience these specially designed Montessori activities and materials so that they might discover the laws of nature and properties of matter, learn to classify according to likeness and difference, educate and refine sensory awareness, and, finally, develop the ability to abstract or conceptualize what they have learned and then generalize this acquired knowledge to the outside world.
The Montessori classroom can also be viewed as a community. The environment is relaxed and friendly and the children are encouraged to interact and enjoy the company of others. Social interaction is never forced and respect for the integrity of each individual child is modeled by the teachers. While the Montessori focus is on the developing individual child, it is also our aim to assist the child in becoming a responsible and congenial social person who contributes freely and feels she is a part of her community.
Considering the above, the focus remains on the individual child, each with unique interests and abilities. Each child will approach and experience the classroom in his own way, according to his "developmental readiness." Given the freedom and encouragement to explore the environment and the teacher's patient waiting, the directress can then assist the child at appropriate times in making the choices and offer guidance when necessary. The Montessori classroom offers the child freedom of movement, freedom of assembly and choice of activity. With this freedom are responsibilities.
The classroom has an order which must be maintained. Materials must be returned to the shelves in proper condition.
Noise level and body movement must be appropriate to the conduct of classroom activities. Respect for the environment, for others and for oneself is nurtured and reinforced. Learning how to share time and space with others is an important goal of the Montessori classroom.
The Montessori classroom is "child-centered;" the role of the directress is that of observer and facilitator of classroom activity. It is through studied observation that we learn about each child.
The Montessori teacher is a trained observer and through observations of the child she learns of his intellectual and interpersonal selves, revealing the whole child. The role of observer is not a passive one. It requires constant attention and careful examination. It summons respect and appreciation for individual differences. It inspires fascination at what we see there.
The Montessori teacher is able to interact while observing and spends much of her class time working with individual children with their work and making work choices. It is important that the children feel secure and comfortable with the adults in the classroom and that they have the sense that we are happy to be with them and enjoy their company. We must serve as responsible role models and be aware of our influence on their young lives.
This calls for both humility and humor. When we laugh with the children, sharing their daily wonders, their spontaneity and joy, we enrich the lives of the children as we enrich our own. This is the children's gift to us.