The Early Childhood program includes children 3 through 6 years of age. This is the age of development of one’s own independence, mastery of one’s own environment, as well as emerging awareness of social grace and courtesy.
As the child enters a Montessori classroom, they are experiencing reality–the things they can actually see, touch, hear, feel and do themselves. The 3 year old is observing and absorbing his environment with a voracious hunger. He is driven to master all things that pertain to the care of themselves; such as putting on their own clothes, preparing food, and cleaning, Their curiosity is in full bloom with cause and effect, like how things open and close, what’s inside a closed box, or what’s on the other side of a door. Their awareness is keen on vocabulary using big words, silly words, rhyming words, and opposite words. The 4 year old is calm and serene as they begin to assimilate, organize and apply the knowledge they have absorbed. This is the child who begins to see the possibilities of friendships, to incorporate the skills they have developed, and understand the beauty in their efforts. The 5 year old is weaving together and organizing the skills of independence with emotional and social skills, as they develop intellectually, a true understanding of concepts in language, math and science that will serve them for the rest of their lives.
Upon entering a Montessori three to six classroom environment, you immediately notice the small size of the furniture, the low elevation of the shelves, and the sense of accessibility of the child to their environment. This was the plan of Dr. Montessori–to prepare the environment to meet the physical needs of the child. To the unenlightened, the environment may appear home-like with glass pitchers, bowls, brooms, aprons, and the like. Upon closer inspection, one begins to observe a beauty in the environment with plants, art, animals and music. Then emerges a subtle awareness of geometric shapes, numerals, letters, beautiful maps, colorful beads, and books. What evolves in the observer is an awareness of a carefully prepared environment that engages the young child. It is inviting and appealing, creating a desire to explore and learn.
The outcome of such an environment, paired with the well-trained, educated and credentialed Montessori teacher, is a learning experience developed to meet the needs of the child. Current brain research shows us that real learning occurs when the hand is in use, when the learner is happy and feels safe, and when movement is involved. Children observed in a Montessori classroom are engaged in activities that best suit their own individual developmental needs.
As children enter a Montessori classroom for the first time, they begin a journey that will facilitate the development and mastery of order and organization, which aids in the development of their coordination and concentration and ultimately empowers them as independent young people who are prepared to enter the world of elementary interdependence. At that time the child will be prepared to become a part of a greater community.