The educational material offered at the children's house is a development material conducive to self-education, a term used by Maria Montessori since the material is not an aid for the educator but an aid for the child.
The aim is not to teach knowledge through the material but to allow the child to manipulate it, to experience new sensations, to make new discoveries. The adult is the link between the material and the child.
It is through these concrete experiences, these discoveries, that the child will build itself. The material is therefore only a starting point in this process of building intelligence, because the child will have to gradually move away from these concrete objects in order to advance towards abstraction.
In a Montessori atmosphere, there are 4 categories of material:
- Practical life equipment
- Sensory material
- Language equipment
- Mathematics materials
The material also includes science, botany and geography, music and art. The organization of the equipment is done in very distinct areas. Each material is arranged in a specific order, on a shelf at children's level. Trays are always lined up from simpler to more complex.
PRACTICAL LIFE MATERIALS
Practical life activities are the category of activities that we first present when children come to the children's home since they are designed to arouse their interest and engage their movement.
The child is built through movement, and all activities generate movement.
At the children's home, the child has the opportunity to manipulate, to develop more precisely his motor skills, to specify his gestures and, above all, to do by himself a large number of activities.
This great self-fulfillment leads naturally to the path of autonomy, self-confidence and concentration, which is the very purpose of these practical exercises.
"Help me to do by myself" is the foundation of Montessori pedagogy.
With the help of his five senses, the child will be impregnated with the outside world thanks to the stimuli he receives, and he will be able to construct a real representation of the world.
Maria Montessori said: "the senses are the “apprehension" organs, the images of the external world necessary to the intelligence, as the hand is the organ of the apprehension of material things necessary to the body".
The sensory material we propose to children will help them to clarify, order and classify their perceptions by making gradations and pairings. Each material gives a key to the child and allows him to decode, to read differently the world that surrounds him by refining his senses.
The child will thus experience the dimensions with the pink tower (gradation of the largest cube to the smallest), the brown staircase (gradation of the thickest pavement to the finest), the red bars (gradation of the longest bar to the shortest) and will understand concepts like small / large, thin / thick, short / long. He will also experience colors, shapes, flavors, smells and sounds.
The manipulation of sensory material also allows the transition from sensory experience to conceptualization, in other words, from concrete to abstract. This material invites the child to observe, compare, organize, judge, deduce. It engages both the head and the hands.
The sensory material helps the child to grasp the material of language and mathematics that require a higher level of reflection with a higher degree of abstraction.
The child does not suffer from learning to speak: the phonemes and words seem to emerge from his unconscious as from a mysterious source. Gradually, brick by brick, the house of his being rises, he expresses himself, and he grows. His word then takes the measure of his action, a harmony is formed between his thought, his words and the dimensions of his body. It takes the measure of the world.
Telling stories, working with oral language using classified images, poetry, nursery rhymes and language games helps to promote oral expression but also the development of listening, the structuring of thought and the acquisition of an increasingly large and precise vocabulary.
For the preparation of writing, the first material used is the sound analysis game which allows the child to develop his auditory sense by analyzing and verbally reproducing the different sounds that constitute a word.
Drawing shapes help the child work on his or her graphic design.
The sandpaper letters are used to memorize the sound of letters and their calligraphy by associating 3 senses: the sight, the touch and the hearing.
The mobile alphabet is the material which triggers the writing. The child makes compositions by himself using movable letters and thus writes the words and sentences of his choice.
The last part of the language material allows the child to become aware of the grammatical organization of the sentence and the language.
It is important to emphasize that mathematics material is above all a sensory material.
The mathematical mind is the child’s ability to organize, classify, and order.
First of all we approach counting from 1 to 10.
We then introduce the decimal system and the 4 major operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division).
Then count from 11 to infinity.
The memorizing tables (addition - subtraction - multiplication and division).
And finally the transition to abstraction.