The Montessori Method has a considerable influence in the development of the preschool child. Smart Steps Montessori is an extension of the home environment. Children around 2½ years need a second environment (a Montessori). This is something that parents owe to their child. Dr. Montessori, realizing the tremendously absorbent nature of the child's mind, prepared a special environment for the child. To educate the "whole" child, that children must have freedom to develop their physical, intellectual and academic powers to the fullest.
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Classes have a vertical age structure, spanning three years. Younger children have the opportunity to learn by observation and absorption of the work of older children, while the older children also have opportunities to teach the younger ones, thereby acquiring a greater depth of understanding as well as greater confidence and competence.
The Montessori approach is child centered and allows an unfolding of each child in an atmosphere of cooperation rather than competition, according to his or her own true nature. The role of a Montessori teacher is in constructively guiding children in their learning. Montessori students have an individual work plan, which the teacher and student prepare and oversee together. The student is responsible for fulfilling his/her individual contract, with teacher guidance, on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.
Believing that the environment should aid and foster the child's development throughout life, Maria Montessori designed the Prepared Environment - a classroom environment to satisfy the child's differing needs.Children work with concrete materials which isolate important concepts and skills. Many of these materials are self-correcting. Activities are self-directed so that children have a sense of control over their own learning and are able to follow their own interests.
At school, children work spontaneously in a prepared environment. Within limits, they are free to choose their own work, and work at their own pace, to move around and communicate with others in the classroom. The limits imposed are in relation to the collective interest and this means that children learn to have respect for the rights and safety of others and for the environment. This is the Montessori approach to self-discipline. They learn to use care with materials, to help other children and to become a co-operative member of the group. This enables each child to enjoy the freedom which is offered, while displaying a developing discipline.