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San Tan Montessori is founded on the philosophy of Dr. Maria Montessori. The four major areas of the Montessori classroom are: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language and Mathematics. Primary classes are peaceful environments where children are given the opportunity to deepen and grow concentration and independence. As with all authentic Montessori environments, this is a children’s classroom and is designed around children’s needs. Spontaneous learning through concrete hands-on activities which draw and engage interest, spirit and imagination is at the center of the classroom. The lessons experienced by the child build a solid foundation for future learning. This is especially important for the young child through the age of five, because they have what Dr. Montessori called the, “Absorbent Mind,” through which the child literally absorbs knowledge from his environment. Therefore, everything in the Montessori classroom environment serves a purpose of laying a foundation for the child physically, intellectually and emotionally. There is a special emphasis with connecting the child with nature and things that are real in the world. Dr. Montessori specified that the primary aged child is in the sensitive period for connection with the world.
Practical Life activities make up the foundation of the program. They are intended to help the child adapt to his environment. He learns to button, snap, and tie, to shine shoes, sweep, dust, and polish. He also learns the forms of good manners in our culture, such as shaking hands, closing doors quietly, and not interrupting. The activities within the classroom are designed in a sequence of steps through which the child comes to realize order and logic in activity. Attention, concentration, carefulness, and independence originate with this work.
The Sensorial material is not intended to give new impressions but to order, relate, classify, explore, and realize the sense impressions the child has had before coming to school. The equipment is designed to aid the senses in discriminating form, shape, size, color, sound, and touch. Each piece of material isolates a single quality, a single sense impression. The Sensorial materials serve as keys to all other areas of learning. The sound exercises lead to music; the child’s interest in sound, form, and texture is utilized in learning the shapes and sounds of the alphabet; form extends into geometry, botany, and geography.
Language is woven into all parts of the program. The child learns that words are made of sounds. Then he learns that each sound has a symbol. Knowing the sound and symbol for each letter of the alphabet, he begins to build words. Stories, poems, plays, and ordinary conversation are important in the environment. The aim is to increase the child’s knowledge, his organization of thought, and his confidence and ability to express and use his mind.
Montessori observed human tendencies to abstract, investigate, calculate, measure, imagine and create. If the child is allowed to develop these tendencies through manipulating concrete materials, allowing for repetition and concentration, he moves easily on to abstraction and a love for mathematics. As the child is introduced to numbers,
first the quantity and then the symbol are taught. Later the decimal system (units, tens, hundreds, thousands) is brought to the child along with basic arithmetic processes. Numbers, both the symbol and quantity are taught.
The Music Together® Preschool program provides children with the opportunity to learn music in developmentally appropriate ways. Music Together Preschool supports cognitive, emotional, social, and physical development, giving parents and caregivers enjoyable and significant ways to relate to their children through music. Recordings, songbooks, and teaching materials are provided to each classroom, and children “bring the music home” though CD sets for parent-child musical play, sharing the songs and activities learned in school.