Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Stages of Montessori Curriculum - Educating the Whole Child

children with telescope stages of NAMC montessori curriculum educating whole child
Born with potential, babies arrive in this world as incomplete beings. They do, however possess an amazing ability to construct themselves, developing into fully formed and functioning individuals. Unlike adults, who have the ability to learn in an immobile state, Dr. Maria Montessori observed that babies and young children learn through purposeful movement, exploration, and discovery. During the first six years of a child’s life, unconscious learning develops into the conscious level. Montessori believed that the first six years of life are crucial to human development.

The role of Montessori teachers and parents is to protect the child while they are engaged in this critical and important task.

The Stages of Montessori Curriculum - Educating the Whole Child


Montessori schools and classrooms are structured according to age, which corresponds to the planes of development.
  • Infants
  • Toddlers (Approx. a 1 year program for ages 2-3)
  • Primary (Children’s House) (Approx. a 3 year program for ages 3-6)
  • Lower Elementary (Approx. a 3 year program for ages 6-9)
  • Upper Elementary (Approx. a 3 year program for ages 9-12)

Dr. Montessori felt that Montessori classrooms should be non-graded and made up of mixed ages. Children advance or “move up” to the next level based on individual readiness, which is evaluated by the Montessori teacher, administrator, as well as parents.

Toddler and Primary Level

According to Montessori, this is the age of the absorbent mind, where each child possesses the uncanny ability to absorb and learn from the environment. During this time there is a great need for disciplined work paired with the natural desire to learn. It is a time of order, exactness, and repetition.
Dr. Montessori believed that what the hand does, the brain remembers. In order to help each child reach his or her full potential, the Montessori classroom must be a well-prepared environment, complete with concrete, sensorial materials which have been specially designed for each stage of development. The Montessori teacher acts as a guide, encouraging children to choose materials that encourage further exploration. Children work independently, spontaneously choosing to work with Montessori materials at his or her own pace, thus freeing their creative energy. Through this manner, children learn independence, self-discipline, as well as a work habit. Thus encouraged, they eagerly move forward with confidence, progressing through mastery of many skills.

Elementary Level

During the elementary years, children begin to move from concrete materials to abstract thought. Montessori Lessons and activities no longer need as much repetition and the children begin to ask some of the eternal questions of life: Who am I? Where am I? Where do I come from? They have the ability to see that all learning and life is interrelated. They gain confidence in themselves and their abilities and develop the ability to concentrate for longer periods of time. They are no longer solitary beings, but enjoy socializing with their peers. Developing a strong sense of right and wrong, as well as a keen sense of fairness, children at this level become aware of the world around them. Independence moves towards inner discipline.

Montessori education is education for life by addressing the needs of the whole human being – spiritually, emotionally, socially, and intellectually. Physically, children move from concrete hands-on and sensory experiences to abstract levels of cognition. Mentally and emotionally through learning about physical and cultural geography and the fundamental needs of man, plants, and animals students discover the interconnectedness and interdependence of all life.

NAMC offers a full range of curriculum to meet all of the above planes of development. Visit our website for further details: NAMC Montessori Curriculum Resources.
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Wednesday, August 29, 2007.

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Thank you to the NAMC Montessori community!

This year marks NAMC’s 20th anniversary of providing quality Montessori distance training and curriculum development to Montessorians around the globe. Since we began in 1996, we have grown to build a fantastic community of students, graduates, and schools in over 120 countries. We are grateful for your continued support and dedication to furthering the reach and success of the Montessori method. Thank you for sharing this amazing milestone with us!