The most important years for learning are from birth to age six. During these formative years, children progress through a series of “sensitive periods,” unique windows of opportunity where the child is able to acquire knowledge without extreme effort or fatigue. Those same skills may be learned at a later time, but then require greater effort on the part of the child.
Children learn by absorbing information and sensations from their surroundings. Children possess what Montessori termed an “absorbent mind.” The Montessori classroom is precisely designed to take full advantage of this formative period between the ages of three and six. Engaging in stimulating learning materials helps the child to classify and order information gathered from their environment.
Young children create themselves through purposeful activities. Montessori classrooms provide a prepared environment where children respond to their natural tendency to work. The child’s innate passion for learning is encouraged by giving him opportunities to engage in spontaneous, purposeful activities with the guidance of a trained adult. As an aid to the child’s self-construction, individual work is encouraged.
Through work, the child develops concentration and joyful self-discipline. Distinct Montessori curriculum areas and materials cultivate the children’s ability to express themselves and think with clarity; they are practical life, sensorial, mathematics, language and cultural studies (history, geography, science, and social studies). Within this framework of order, children progress at their own pace and rhythm, according to their individual capabilities.
The Montessori Three Year Cycle
The 3-year cycle at Clementine Montessori School establishes a sense of community within each classroom where children of different ages and abilities all thrive as the unique individuals they are. This video, produced by a former Montessori student, sheds some light on the Three Year Cycle.
Parents new to Montessori often ask, “How do children of such different sizes and skill levels all thrive in the same class? How do you ensure that both a 3-year-old and a 6-year-old are challenged and learning optimally?” Learn how Montessori teachers strike this balance.
“A little child of three works peacefully alongside a boy of seven and is as contented with his own work as he is about the fact that he is shorter and does not have to envy the older boy’s height. They all grow up in the most profound peace.”
~Dr. Maria Montessori
‘A Children’s House’
“It ought to be a real house, that is to say a set of rooms with a garden of which the children are the masters.”
~Dr. Montessori’s Own Handbook, Bently 1966
To grasp the essence of Clementine Montessori, just step inside a classroom. Beautiful, inviting, and thoughtfully arranged, our classrooms embody each element of Maria Montessori’s revolutionary approach.
Natural lighting, soft colors, and uncluttered spaces set the stage for activity that is focused and calm. You won’t find walls papered with brightly colored images of cartoons and syndicated characters. Instead, you might see posters from a local museum, or framed photographs or paintings created by the students themselves.
Clementine Montessori’s classrooms are uniquely suited to meet the developmental needs of the young child. Our classrooms feature low sinks, chairs, and tables; a reading corner with a comfy seat; reachable shelves; and child-sized kitchen tools—elements that allow independence and help develop fine motor skills.
The design and flow of each Clementine Montessori classroom create a learning environment that accommodates choice. There are spaces suited to group activity, and areas where a student can settle in alone. Gone are the customary rows of school desks; children work at tables or on the floor, rolling out mats on which to work and define their work space. Each of Clementine’s classrooms has an area devoted to peace and reflection: a quiet corner or table with well-chosen items—a vase of daisies; a goldfish bowl—to lead a child to meditative thought. And always there are places to curl up with books, where a student can read or be read to.
Above all, each classroom is warm, well-organized, and inviting to help children feel calm and at home.