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In the Montessori classroom, the space is divided into several logical areas by low, open shelves: one for Practical Life exercises, one for Sensorial, one for Language, another for Maths and other areas for Culture – art, music, geography and science. These are each explained below.
The Montessori Curriculum is an integrated, thematic approach that ties the separate disciplines together into studies of the physical universe, the world of nature and human experience. In this way, one lesson leads to many others.
Each material or activity that the children use in the classroom isolates one concept or skill. They have been designed especially so that the children are drawn naturally to want to work with them with little or no nudging from adults. They have also been designed so that a child can check their own work; we call this a built-in “control of error.” The intention of the materials is not to keep the children dependent on these artificial learning aids forever; they are used as tools to help children work and learn at their own pace, to see abstract ideas presented in a very concrete, three-dimensional way and to help them grasp and understand what they are working on.
Montessori students learn not to be afraid of making mistakes. They quickly find that few things in life come easily and that they can try again without fear or embarrassment.
This area of the curriculum is designed to invite the young learner to act and work on real-life tasks that foster independence, co-ordination, order and concentration. It is, in a sense, the doorway to the Montessori curriculum.
This is the area where the child may first choose independent work. The practical life area contains many attractively-displayed objects familiar to the child, including a variety of items used in daily life, such as for eating, dressing and cleaning.
They offer the child meaningful and non-threatening modes of activity. The materials are also designed carefully and proven to help teach skills involved with caring for the environment, to encourage responsibility and autonomy, and to promote high self-esteem.