Practical Life -
Imitation is one of the child’s strongest urges during his early years. For the young child there is something special about tasks that an adult considers ordinary. Carrying water in a pitcher and pouring it into a basin helps a child perfect coordination. Becoming absorbed in an activity, such as scrubbing a table top, lengthens his span of concentration. He also learns to pay attention to details as he follows a regular sequence of actions and good working habits as he puts away all the materials for the next child. In addition to gradually lengthening the time in which he can focus his attention on a specific activity, performing these exercises from top to bottom, left to right and scrubbing in a counter-clockwise motion prepare him for reading!
Language Arts -
In a Montessori classroom, individual presentation of language materials allows the teacher to take advantage of each child’s greatest periods of interest. A young child has a natural sensitivity for language development. From learning the alphabet with the Sandpaper Letters to the Moveable Alphabet where they practice word building, children advance toward reading. Letting children manipulate materials utilizes this very important stage where they focus best with their hands. Using a wide variety of small toys and pictures, children learn the sounds of the letters and build three-letter words. The teacher offers guided instruction with matching words and pictures, copying/writing words, and sounding out consonant blends until independence is reached.
A child’s introduction to numbers also involves manipulating objects, such as the number rods, which represent numbers one through ten. The child will see that although he calls the smallest rod “one,’’ and the next rod “two,” the number two rod is a unit, but it is equal to two of the number one rods. Working with this equipment gives a child the opportunity to discover many mathematical facts. At the same time, the child learns the corresponding figures by tracing the numerals in sandpaper, for example. Manipulating equipment in the early years allows for learning by discovery rather than being told and develops an enthusiasm for the world of numbers!
Taken from A Parents’ Guide to the Montessori Classroom by Aline d. Wolf