Infants are attracted to everything. They want to investigate and to touch, taste, and feel as they learn to use their senses and become more agile in their movement. The Montessori infant community is a safe place for exploration. Each child builds a sense of confidence in their ability to discover what the world is above. A variety of surfaces from carpet to tile to wood stimulate the infants sense of touch. Pillows, mobiles, mirrors, and infant-size tables and chairs contribute to the infant environment. The educational focus for infants includes mobility, coordination, order, and language.
The infant community accepts children at six weeks of age. They are free to grow and develop at their own pace, in a calm, serene environment. Most parents sense that the Montessori infant community provides their child something special. The child-teacher ratio is 4 to 1.
The first years of life are a time to explore, to see, to touch, and to hear; to develop trust and to begin language; a time to take the first steps towards independence. For nearly a century Montessori teachers have been observing toddlers and creating a learning environment that responds to the developmental needs of early childhood.
With the benefit of a caring nurturing environment, toddlers learn faster than at most any other time in their life. The toddler community respects this time in a child’s life and offers group activities as well as independent work periods. The child-teacher ratio is 5 to 1.
The pre-primary community is primarily focused on five areas: practical life, sensorial, language, math, and cultural studies. The emphasis is on individual learning, though there are daily group lessons and social interactions. The pre-primary children make choices in areas that are of the greatest interest to them. Once the activity is introduced, the teacher is able to withdraw and the child is able to work independently. The love of learning is fostered each day, and a spirit of respect and cooperation is developed. The child-teacher ratio is 12 to 1.
By kindergarten age, Montessori children are normally curious and self-confident learners. The third year provides students the opportunity for more in-depth work with the full range of materials presented in pre-primary. Individual, small, and large group lessons provide a variety of learning opportunities. In addition, time management, personal accountability, and behavior management through peace education and self-regulation are fostered. The child-teacher ratio is 12 to 1.
The Montessori elementary experience responds to the child’s expanding view of the universe. Many new materials are introduced as the child enters into more abstract thinking. Their developing imagination embraces concepts larger than their immediate environment. The elementary curriculum is interdisciplinary, allowing science, social studies, the arts, language, math, and foreign language converging in studies guided by the child’s own questions. Emphasis is placed on the connections between the different areas of study, not on the mere presentations of detail.