The Montessori Classroom
The Montessori classroom is set up in several specific areas – Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math, Science, Geography and Art. The colors are purposely natural and subdued. The materials, not the decorations, are meant to draw the attention of the child. Each area and its materials are designed with a specific aim for the development of the child.
Materials in the Practical Life area of the classroom are taken from a child’s daily life. Here he or she might pursue activities such as setting the table, flower arranging, preparing a snack, polishing a mirror or learning to use screws and screwdrivers. The goal is to assist the child in acquiring the ability to care for self, others and the environment, as well as developing independence, concentration and a sense of order.
The Sensorial area of the classroom has manipulative materials to help the child learn through his or her senses. Each of the Sensorial materials isolates one particular quality such as color, weight, shape, texture, size, sound and smell. The materials help children refine their senses so they can sort out their many different impressions and better understand and adapt to the physical world.
After working their way through the Practical Life and Sensorial areas, children will move to the other areas but will also continue to return to these areas throughout the three years spent in the Montessori Early Childhood classroom to reinforce their learning, to feel competent, to explore in greater depth or to teach a younger child.
The Math area of the classroom is designed to help children develop a logically ordered mind. The materials have been developed to teach children abstraction, numeration, place value, problem solving and other math functions.
Like the decimal system, most of the materials used in the Montessori classroom are based on units of ten. By working with the materials, children gain an understanding of our numeral system. For example, the child might begin by working with a set of ten numbered rods of graduating length. The child learns to order the rods according to their size. This exercise teaches the child the concept of quantity.
Once this basic concept is established, sandpaper numbers are introduced. By tracing the numbers, the child learns how they are formed. Soon, the child is able to link the concepts together – i.e. these rods are equal to a numeric value represented by this symbol.
As the child’s understanding grows, the math materials used in the classroom become increasingly more complex and eventually, he or she is able to work with abstractions.
The Language area of the classroom is designed to help a child learn to communicate effectively. The activities and materials found here promote oral and written expression. Through tools like our sandpaper letters, children are introduced to letter forms and the sounds they make. They learn to combine sounds to form words and then combine words to form sentences. Eventually, the child develops skills necessary to express his or her thoughts in writing.
The Music program at RKMS features learning through active involvement so a child learns body awareness, balance and tracking. Once a week, a trained music instructor comes to the school to conduct music classes for the children in the Primary program. The children are exposed to a wide variety of musical styles. Singing, dancing and exploring rhythm and movement are all part of the program. The music instructor also comes to the school once a week for the Toddler program.
In the classroom, the children have an opportunity to work with bells to sharpen and refine their listening skills. These Montessori teaching materials help to develop and refine the child’s auditory sense, train the musical ear and develop awareness of musical notes and scales.
In addition to a music room, RKMS has a well-equipped gross motor classroom and playground. Physical activities are designed to provide enjoyment, encourage a healthy lifestyle and to promote the development of gross motor skills.
Other subjects are integrated in the Montessori classroom and intended to provide a logical approach to gathering information and problem solving. Some of the materials that the children encounter include maps, timelines, plant and animal life, magnets and gemstones. These materials offer children a sound introduction to botany, zoology, chemistry, physics, geology and astronomy.