Spanish is taught at TMS in the Elementary classes. Depending on the occasion, classes are centered around holidays that lend themselves to learning the Spanish language, vocabulary and conversation. This video features a couple of days that were spent on the Mexican celebration of the “Day of the Dead.”
The use of the didactic math materials developed by Maria Montessori is one of the most recognizable hallmarks of a Montessori education.
This system in which a child is constantly moving objects with his hands and actively exercising his senses, also takes into account a child’s special aptitude for mathematics. When they leave the material, the children very easily reach the point where they wish to write out the operation. They thus carry out an abstract mental operation and acquire a kind of natural and spontaneous inclination for mental calculations. (Montessori, 1967, p. 279)
These materials are distinct in that they guide students to explore mathematical principles independently in a concrete and experiential way. This allows students to utilize all of their senses to internalize math concepts, and ultimately allow them to achieve abstraction. The materials are developmentally appropriate, carefully designed to meet the needs characteristic of the plane of development of the child intended to use them. The materials appear time and again, within the spiraling math curriculum. Upon each appearance, students revisit what they already know, and are provided a reference point for where the new information now ascertained from the material is to be organized.
Golden beads used for introductory lessons in the primary classroom, such as the introduction to place value, are later used by the upper elementary student to understand more complex lessons, such as the first square root lesson. The golden beads are familiar, isolating the difficulty to understanding the new, more advanced concept of what square root means.
The same holds true for the binomial cube; through use of this familiar material, difficulty is isolated when it is used to later demonstrate more complex concepts. In this way, work done at the primary level scaffolds the work done at the upper elementary level. “Children can create mental structures from previously learned material into which new carefully designed material can be assimilated” (Lillard, 2005, p. 236). This is the elegance of the use of the didactic math materials within the Montessori spiralling curriculum and the genius of its design.
Lillard, A.S. (2005). Montessori: The science behind the genius. New York: Oxford University Press.
Montessori, M. (1967). The discovery of the child. New York: Ballantine Books.
“Dr. Maria Montessori is universally known for her contribution to the cause of peace and the brotherhood of nations to which she has dedicated the best years of her long and active life, laying the foundations of a true science of peace by means of her innovative form of education.”
Maria Montessori saw with great clarity the huge potential of freedom not in the manifestation of the adult, but rather in that of a child. This is why her classrooms are so different.
The Montessori classroom is a prepared environment with mixed ages as in real life. It is where the students are allowed the freedom to make good choices as in real life. It is where the students are able to select an activity and work at it for as long as they like. It is a place where knowledge is not just passed down, but most importantly, it is a microcosm in which the student is guided to what is good and what is just.
It is a place where the children can play out their roles and interact with their peers and move about freely. Where they can experiment with what happens when they conduct themselves selfishly or generously, explore what happens when they show impatience or tolerance, and live with the outcome when they demonstrate meanness of spirit or empathy.
It is an environment where the “invisible curriculum” of Grace and Courtesy plays a significant role in the modeling of PEACE. For example:
- How to ask for help from a teacher or a friend.
- What if someone says “You’re not my friend.”?
- How to watch someone do work.
- How to do clean up.
- How to agree or disagree.
These rehearsed social scenarios are great tools for the construction of a peaceful life. The Montessori classroom is an ideal place for children to gain confidence and to satisfy the child’s need to function independently.
Montessori said, “Establishing lasting peace is the real work of education…”
To rephrase this: Establishing lasting peace is the real work of the child.