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In this critical stage of development, children have an unusual sensitivity and ability to absorb from their environment. They enjoy being challenged – and can concentrate for long periods of time. During this “absorbent” period, the child loves and needs purposeful work.
Children at this 2 ½ to 6 year-old period are using their senses (hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting and touching) to develop their mental, physical and psychological powers. Dr. Montessori created special “sensorial materials” to help children learn to order and classify their impressions of the physical world.
The child’s surroundings have great impact. “The Children’s House” is a “prepared environment” with deliberate order and beauty. Walk in and you’ll see wooden shelves neatly organized with brightly colored geometric forms, puzzle maps and stacking blocks. A small sink, a cutting board and real china dishes invite the child to explore and make choices. You’ll see children engaged in using Montessori materials, working alone or in groups of two or three. The teacher presents a lesson and then the child is free to practice and ultimately master the skill. It is here that children discover the satisfaction and joy of accomplishing for themselves.
Children sense the room’s order and move carefully through it. They are developing coordination and a respect for the environment – while learning to care for themselves and others. The primary level classroom provides the basis for reading, writing, mathematics, geography, biology and the arts.
Montessori education doesn’t end with pre-school. It continues into the elementary years, building on the primary age lessons and materials – but changing with the developmental needs of the child.
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