|"No man exists who
was not made by the
child who once he
was." - Dr. Maria
|Philosophy and Curriculum
“No man exists who was not made by the child who once he was”- Dr. Maria
The Absorbent Mind
the method that young children use to learn. The intellect of a small child is the
method that young children use to learn. The intellect of a small child is developed
unconsciously by absorbing everything in his environment. Early impressions are
very important because they form the personality and character of the child.
The “sensitive periods” were referred to by Dr. Montessori as periods in the
development of children when there was a strong ability for acquiring a particular
skill or type of knowledge. These “sensitive periods” are dominate at certain time
frames in the life of the child and then tend to disappear. These are divided into
different age categories:
Birth to age 3 - sensory experiences
Age 1-1/2 to age 3 - language development
Age 3 to age 4-1/2 - writing development
Age 4-1/2 to age 5-1/2 - reading development
If the sensitive period is missed, the opportunity to develop naturally is lost. Skills
and knowledge are acquired later in life but the period when they are absorbed is
The Montessori teacher must be observant and prepared to recognize the
sensitive period that develops for the students and be ready to capitalize on each
one’s special interest within the allotted time frame.
Another important aspect of the Montessori method of education is her
development of the “sensorial materials”. When Dr. Montessori designed the
sensorial materials, she isolated one abstraction at a time in order to focus on one
specific property, i.e., size, shape, color etc. The materials are designed to go from
the simple to the complicated, all the while developing and educating the senses.
The senses play an important role in our lives, but never is the growth potential as
great as during the early (2.5-5) years. The child develops the senses of sight,
taste, touch, etc. through manipulation and experience with his surroundings.
Art and Music
Art and Music are a part of every Montessori classroom. These lead to the
development of gross motor skills. Dr. Montessori felt music education could
significantly enhance the development of the young child. Music stimulates the
neural bridges in the area of the brain that is responsible for mathematical
computation. Music lessons can significantly enhance this spatial-temporal
reasoning ability. There is a sensitive period in which music is most effective in
this stimulation, i.e. before the age of five.
The mathematics materials developed by Dr. Montessori are based on the decimal
system and are devised so that the child can manipulate them in a way that will
allow him to easily visualize the numbers. There is a certain time in the child’s
development when he develops an “awakening” in his mathematical mind. The
child can learn mathematics in either of two ways; (1) by using concrete materials
during the years when he enjoys manipulating equipment or (2) he can learn by
abstract methods when he is in the elementary grades. The main difference in her
method is the process whereby the child learns the concepts on his own. It is an”
Ah-ha” experience for the child. The learning is truly the child’s own.
Another novel aspect of the Montessori Method is the incorporation of the
“Practical Life” materials. In the Montessori environment all activities are called
“work”. The child learns to take care of himself and his environment. He learns to
tie his shoes, to keep his environment clean, pour liquids without spilling, all the
while developing his fine motor skills, which involves the body, intellect and will.
Language, there is no other thing that offers a bridge to another mind than the
ability to use meaningful words in unlimited combinations. In the Montessori
classroom, the child will learn sounds first and will progress then to putting sounds
together to make words (movable alphabet) then on to writing using the sand
paper letters. The final step is reading.
The “absorbent mind” of young children allows them to easily acquire a second
During language acquisition children lay down neural pathways in the brain.
These pathways establish the groundwork for advanced learning of all kinds.
Introduction to the cultural subjects, History, Science, Geography, Botany and
Zoology, is made interesting by use of the nature table. At Black Mountain
Science Academy, we will introduce the children to additional science over and
above the subjects taught in a traditional Montessori classroom. This will include
an introduction to Microbiology and the science of the human cell. We will also
introduce the children to the use of a