Assistants to Infancy (0-3)
The first three years of life are the most fundamental in the development of human beings and their potential.
During the first three years of life, the child's intelligence is formed, and the child acquires the culture and language into which he or she is born. It is a period when the core of personality, social being and the essence of spiritual life are developed. An understanding of the child's development and the development of the human mind allows adults to prepare the environment to meet the needs of the infant and foster independence, psychomotor development and language acquisition.
Casa dei Bambini (3-6)
Children between the age of birth and six possess an "absorbent mind". This almost genius capacity for mental absorption enables them to learn their native tongue, to perfect movement and internalise order. Maria Montessori observed that children also experience Sensitive Periods in their development. These are periods of special sensitivity when the child is attracted to certain stimuli in his or her environment allowing them to acquire certain knowledge and skills. These periods occur universally for all children at approximately the same age and provide the time for optimal development of that particular skill or knowledge.
The 3 to 6 year old child is undergoing a process of self-construction. The application of the Montessori philosophy and the specifically designed Montessori equipment aids the child's ability to absorb knowledge and continue this path of self-construction. The Casa Dei Bambini (Children's House) program is designed to be a three year program composed of children ages three to six years. In this setting the children naturally respect each other’s work and personal space. They take an active role in maintaining their environment, which is divided into four main areas: practical life, sensorial, language, and mathematics. The basic academic curriculum is enriched by Creative Arts, Music, Science, Geography, and Cultural Studies.
Elementary aged children, typically, can be characterised by their questioning minds, their ability to abstract and imagine, their moral and social orientation and their unlimited energy for research and exploration. They move from the concrete through their own efforts and discovery to the abstract - thus greatly expanding their field of knowledge.
In a research style of learning, elementary children work in small groups on a variety of projects which spark the imagination and engage the intellect. Lessons given by a trained Montessori teacher direct the children toward activities which help them to develop reasoning abilities and learn the arts of life.
Children, at this age, are driven to understand the universe and their place in it and their capacity to assimilate all aspects of culture is boundless. Elementary studies include geography, biology, history, language, mathematics in all its branches, science, music and art. Exploration of each area is encouraged through trips outside the classroom to community resources, such as library, planetarium, botanical garden, science centre, factory, hospital, etc. This inclusive approach to education fosters a feeling of connectedness to all humanity, and encourages their natural desire to make contributions to the world.
Educational environments prepared for adolescents by Montessori educators are designed to build an adolescent community in which young people gain social experience that prepares them for adulthood. The right environment for adolescents, according to Dr Montessori is one in which they can have ‘effective, practical experience of every aspect of social life’. One of the central roles of the Montessori environment prepared for adolescents is to initiate these young people into the world of adult work. The environment prepared for a Montessori adolescent community incorporates two types of working environments, the natural environment and the wider society.
The work undertaken with the community are called occupations. Occupations inspire students to engage in the work with integrity and passion, to develop their own interests and expertise, to gain recognition for their contribution and to experience a sense of ownership and accomplishment. In this way, through the occupations, adolescents have the opportunity to take on more mature roles within the community. These roles might include being the beekeeper, the bookkeeper or the photographer. The opportunity to take on different occupations and roles leads the adolescent towards maturity and a sense of their own value and usefulness. When the adolescent assumes a role in the community, the occupation has demonstrably engaged and transformed the student, provided the student with goals and validation, and adds impetus to the student’s learning.