"The Center for Early Learning/LW is a Montessori-based laboratory preschool. Montessori is both a philosophy and a method of education developed by Maria Montessori, the first woman physician in Italy. The first Montessori preschool opened in Italy in 1907. Montessori based her philosophy and methodology on her observations of young children. The following are some of the principles of the Montessori method:
1. Each child is respected as a unique individual.
2. Each child works at her/her own level and individual pace.
3. The children learn by utilizing specially designed learning materials.
4. The classroom is called "the prepared environment". Montessori was the first person to have classroom furniture built to the child's scale. The prepared environment is made up of four major areas -
a. Practical Life or Daily Living: contains water activities, sorting, dressing frames, and a wide variety of fine-motor activities.
b. Sensorial: contains specially designed equipment to "fine tune" the child's senses since all information is taken in through the senses.
c. Language: contains pre-reading activities such as vocabulary enrichment, matching, patterning, rhyming, opposites, etc. as well as phonics lessons, sight word activities, and whole language.
d. Math: contains activities from numeral recognition and one-to-one correspondence through the decimal system and the four basic operations.
The Center for Early Learning/LW also has an art area which emphasizes process over finished product. In addition the curriculum also includes botany (the parts of flowering plants and their functions), zoology (the five classes of vertebrates: fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals), history (the concept of time), and geography (the Earth as part of the solar system as well as the continents, oceans, countries and their peoples).
The prepared environment contains the "tools" the child needs to do his "work".
His "work" is constructing the adult he/she will become.
5. The teacher (known as a directress) serves as a link between the child and the educational materials in the prepared environment. It is actually the materials that do the teaching.
6. The children are given "freedom within limits". They are encouraged to choose their own work as long as they show respect for each other and the learning materials.
7. The classroom is multi-aged, usually including a three year age span.
8. The children are encouraged to be independent. Being able to do something without help fosters self-confidence and a strong self-image.
9. Montessori teachers are required to complete a two-year Montessori teacher training program.
Excerpted from the preschool's website