Updated: May 13, 2020
The Montessori philosophy is a holistic approach to education that goes far beyond its hands-on curriculum, mixed-age groupings, and individualized learning. The Montessori philosophy is built upon the idea that children are naturally designed to learn and "absorb" from their environments, and therefore, have the capacity to teach themselves when exposed to the appropriate stimuli. The highest potential of a child is reached therefore when the child has gained a greater sense of independence and confidence through control and balance of their emotional, social, intellectual, and physical development.
The Montessori curriculum is designed to target these areas in all of its materials and activities through the development of Order, Concentration, Coordination, and Independence.
1. Order Children naturally desire purpose and functionality, which nurture and develop the skill of organization. Order gives a child control and clarity in a world that is unknown and chaotic to them. Order is represented in the Montessori classroom environment through the specific organization of the materials on the shelves (placed from left to right from simplest to more complex), and the use of mats to organize their work.
Benefits of Order: • prepares the child for sorting, classifying • develops logic, problem solving, and analytical skills • increases spatial awareness • basis of linear counting and number sense • provides a foundation for math and science (classification, patterns, repetition, symmetry, etc) • prepares child for reading/writing through the directionality of written language
2. Concentration Children develop the ability to focus in a task and participate in the task until its completion. The completion of a task in its entirety develops greater independence in the child. Concentration is directly influenced by the motivation of the child, and can be cultivated through exposure to activities that peak the child's interests.
Benefits of Concentration: • increases motivation in the child • correlated to the refinement and control of the body • greater levels of self restraint and patience • increased ability to organize • increased attention to details • prepares the child for more complex multi-step work with higher level concepts • allows the child to work uninterrupted for longer periods of time
3. Coordination The development of coordination is essential in a young child to promote independence in the child. The development of coordination is directly correlated with brain development. The more your child uses different muscle groups, the greater the connections and development of the brain. Young children learn through muscle memory from birth to 6 more than in any other time of life.
Benefits of Coordination • increases hand-eye coordination • better control of the body, leading to better self discipline and focus/concentration • strength in fine motor muscles leads to better dexterity and also handwriting • strength allows child to be more independent in carrying and holding things with ease, and doing tasks such as eating and pouring, etc • cross body movement stimulates healthy development in both sides of the brain
4. Independence Order, Concentration, and Coordination all aid in the development of the Independence of a child. An independent child is successful in doing everyday tasks, and has a healthy motivation to try new things. Independence gives the child ownership of their learning and promotes the development of the will and personality of the child.
Benefits of Independence • increases self motivation and builds a greater desire for learning • develops openness to trying new things, and accepting challenges (positive attitude) • builds perseverance and discipline • develops greater emotional control and maturity
All four of the categories should be developed in balance and hold equal importance in the development of the whole child. A child who demonstrates development in all four areas is one that has reached success in their social/emotional, physical, and intellectual development, and become better prepared for higher learning and growth.