Enrolling your son or daughter in a Montessori preschool is a worthwhile experience—one filled with learning for parents as much as children. Because the Montessori approach is different than traditional education, you’re likely to hear our teachers and fellow parents use terms you may not have heard before.
Dr. Maria Montessori’s innovative discoveries about how children learn are captured in everyday vocabulary she developed, which is still commonly used today. Here are 16 of the most frequently used terms and concepts they embody and a description of how they benefit your child’s lifelong learning and success.
Concepts at Work in the Montessori Preschool Curriculum
1. Absorbent Mind
Have you noticed how young children seem to take in everything they can about their world—often without seeming effort? In Montessori schools, this trait is referred to as the absorbent mind. It refers to the intense period of cognitive growth and discovery that happens from birth to age 6, when children are like little sponges, easily learning without conscious effort.
This period is crucial to your son or daughter’s development into the person they will become as they age.
2. Concrete to Abstract
This key concept of Montessori preschool education embodies the philosophy that a child’s understanding starts with tangible facts and applications. A child’s concrete experiences then forms the basis for grasping more abstract concepts. For example, children learn about math concepts like the decimal system by working with beads grouped in tens, hundreds, and so on.
3. Control of Error
Montessori methods involve providing children with learning materials that give them instant feedback. Rather than a teacher providing correction, children can recognize and learn from their own errors. They can enjoy discovering what works firsthand—which fosters a lifelong love of learning.
4. Coordination of Movement
A hallmark of early childhood learning is developing fine-motor skills. Our Montessori preschool curriculum and enrichment programs are filled with opportunities for students to perform physical tasks for themselves, so they learn to care for themselves and gain self-confidence.
5. False Fatigue
False fatigue refers to a brief period of restlessness that occurs about an hour into a child’s work on a project. At this point, children become dissatisfied with the ease of the work. If allowed to self-direct their activity, they will soon refocus and work even harder and longer on exactly the discoveries they are most ready to make at that time.
6. Freedom within Limits
Young children learn through exploration of their environment. For that reason, Montessori preschool classrooms are set up to permit students the freedom to choose their work. But as they exercise that freedom, they are also expected to show responsibility by caring for others and the classroom.
7. Grace and Courtesy
Learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum. In addition to fostering a lifelong appreciation for learning, Montessori teachers model behaviors that encourage children to develop social skills as well. Children learn to be kind, say please and thank you, and be respectful to one another.
8. Learning through Play
The Montessori method of teaching encourages children to explore their environment and learn through fun, whole-body activities that are a lot like play. Rather than sitting at desks, memorizing facts on a chalkboard, and using flashcards, they move freely through the class and use engaging Montessori materials as they learn.
9. Mixed-Age or Multi-Aged Grouping
Among the signs of a great Montessori preschool is children of different ages working together. Our Montessori preschool (primary) class includes children ages 3 to 6. Older students have opportunities to mentor younger ones, allowing them to learn leadership skills.
This term can refer to Dr. Maria Montessori, the founder of the Montessori method of education; the Montessori philosophy of learning; or the Montessori method that you see in action in our classes.
11. Planes of Development
Maria Montessori identified four distinct learning periods that people go through as they grow up, which we refer to as the four planes of development:
- Birth to age 6: discovery through the absorbent mind
- Ages 6-12: reasoning and abstract thinking
- Ages 12-18: development of social self, moral values, and emotional independence
- Ages 18-24: understanding of self and role in the world
12. Practical Life
The Montessori preschool curriculum encompasses more than traditional academics. In addition to studying the 3 Rs, students practice real-life skills such as self-care, personal hygiene, caring for the classroom space, and more.
13. Prepared Environment
Our Montessori preschool educators create a classroom environment that is calm, orderly and arranged for the best possible learning opportunities for your son or daughter. We set up areas for individual and group learning, use child-sized furniture, and provide a full range of Montessori materials.
14. Primary Classroom
The Montessori term “primary” refers specifically to our preschool classes, which include students ages 3-6. In our primary classes, your child learns essential skills that will form the basis for ongoing success in education and life.
15. Role of the Adult
Adults play a vital role in a child’s development. To foster well-rounded growth, we encourage parents to use Montessori methods at home in creative ways—such as modeling social graces, practicing healthy habits, and encouraging a love of reading. See more tips here.
In the Montessori environment, work is more than rote learning. It refers to the purposeful activity that students engage in as they discover their world and gain understanding.
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Prepare Your Child for Lifelong Success
Children who engage in Montessori learning gain academic and social skills that help bring about a lifetime of achievement. Your son or daughter will benefit from the growth that comes from attending a Montessori preschool.
We’re an authentic, accredited Montessori school serving Potomac, MD, and surrounding areas including Rockville, Bethesda, Germantown, Gaithersburg, and Montgomery. See for yourself how our school encourages students to blossom.