Young children learn with their senses; manipulating objects is essential to their development. In our Montessori classroom, children choose from a wide range of materials and activities. Because our children select what to work on, every activity has meaning, and often engages them completely. But the materials aren’t a random collection of objects or toys. Montessori teachers have observed children using these materials over many decades, refining them to encourage children’s natural curiosity, and satisfy their desire to learn new things and master tasks.
Everything in our room is child-sized and beautifully arranged into five main groups of related objects: practical life, sensorial education, reading and language, mathematics, and cultural studies.
Our teachers offer lessons to small groups of children, or lead activities with the larger group such as singing, movement games, or celebrations. But our classroom has no “front.” There is no teacher’s desk. The primary role of our teachers is to observe the children—everything else flows from that: directing the use of materials, keeping track of children’s progress, and encouraging without intervening. If a child misbehaves we don’t punish but instead help him or her select a more engaging activity.