Learning to be independent
The Practical Life area provides a link between home and school. In this area the child learns to perform the same activities he or she has seen at home such as cleaning, mopping, polishing, pouring, zipping, buckling, tying, folding, fastening nuts and bolts of varying sizes, etc.
Practical Life activities are purposeful and calming. They appear simple and repetitive, but in fact are helpful for the child to develop a high level of concentration, cognitive order, pride in a job well done, self-discipline, independence, respect for the community and environment, and fine motor skills.
These qualities are essential to a child’s progress in the classroom and future academic learning as well as to building self-esteem and responsibility in the community.
Exploring through the Senses
The child, especially from 2.5 – 5 years of age, develops senses of sight, sound, taste, touch, etc. through manipulation and experience with his surroundings. Sensorial development in a Montessori class aims at providing the child with a nourishing and rich environment with sensorial materials to help refine, develop and perfect the function of his/her senses.
Children develop and internalize concepts of qualities, similarities and differences, classification and serialization with regard to length, width, temperature, color, shape, sound, etc. The Sensorial materials also enhance development of other skills, such as language, mathematics and music.
From Spoken to Written Expression
One of the most important parts of a child’s education in the first few years is the study of language. Although a child does not need to be taught to speak, they need exposure to the language in order for it to develop. Listening is the first step a child takes toward speech.
In our classroom, the child hears, learns and uses specific vocabulary in all activities, thus developing clear and articulate expression. Spoken language is emphasized and encouraged as the foundation for linguistic expression. The introduction to the phonetic alphabet, simple word reading, sentence building, spelling and composition, are among the language activities children do in the classroom. Other skills, such as pencil control, handwriting and the fundamentals of grammar are also emphasized in the classroom.
At Montessori International School of Vietnam, English is used as the main language. French, Spanish, Vietnamese and Mandarin Chinese are given as options for a second language.
From Concrete Materials to Abstract Concepts
The Montessori mathematics materials allow preschoolers to begin their mathematical journey from the concrete to the abstract through manipulation, experimentation and invention. Children internalize maths skills (number, symbol, sequence, arithmetic operations, etc.) by first using concrete materials and then through memorization of basic math facts. Rods, spindles, cards, beads, and cubes are some of the tools used to symbolize mathematical concepts. Children experience the thrill of discovery when choosing these materials themselves to perform mathematical operations on their own.
Exploring the Universe and Learning about Lives
Culture studies aims to inspire children’s interest in all cultural subjects – geography, botany, zoology, history and science.
Children have curiosity about the world around them. In a Montessori class the teacher first introduces the children to land, water and air. Children are then encouraged to discover the earth and the forces shaping it, geography, time concepts and the natural sciences. Different lives are also talked about when discussing various parts of the globe. The multi-cultural school community provides an environment in which these topics come alive. Children can share their experiences and show souvenirs from the interesting places they come from or have been to during their holidays.
Photographs are essential in geographical studies to assist the children in visualizing the place of discussion.