Many people refer to the age of two as “the terrible two’s”. At Montessori Christian Academy we call this “the age of asserting their independence.” “The child’s nature is to aim directly and energetically at functional independence” (Absorbent Mind, pg. 90). There is within each being a vital force or divine urge labeled Home that guides a child towards independence and the joy of life and work. Independence is a gradual, step-by-step process and the ultimate function of life. It’s is our goal to respect and facilitate the growth of the child’s natural tendencies and inner needs, however “inner development must precede independence” (Education for Human Development, pg. 17). In our school we guide each child so they develop internally and gain independence.
The Preschool class serves children who are approximately two to age three, in a small and intimate group. It has three program options, either half-day, school day or full-day with before and after care. There is also an option available for two days, three days or five days a week. The environment conforms to the physical needs of the children, both in the size of the furnishings and in the opportunities for motor development. There is age appropriate furniture, tiled floors, maximum natural light, selected art placed low on the walls, and defined spaces to challenge coordination of movement.
In the Preschool class children have many practical life lessons. Practical Life lessons are exercises in daily living. These are very important in the Montessori Method because it brings awareness to their environment and the need to care for it. Practical life also develops coordination, attention span, and attention to detail. It also helps to develop control of movement in a child. Some examples of Practical Life in the Preschool class is pouring, spooning, sponging, sweeping, table scrubbing, floor scrubbing and dish washing. Practical life is an important part of every class in a Montessori environment.
All lessons in a Montessori environment are given from left to right because this is how we read and write. Practical Life teaches the child that there is a beginning and an end to a task. Every work has to be followed step by step, finished and returned for the next friend to use. Children who go into a traditional school after being in a Montessori environment are usually the children who finish all of their work because it has become a part of their daily living skills.
The child who attends a Montessori school becomes a person who is self assured in their decisions, respects work, nature, friends, has wonderful “grace and courtesy skills”, and is academically prepared. A child who attends Montessori Christian Academy gains all of this and a strong foundation and knowledge of Jesus and scripture. All of the activities in our environment are to help the child become a “whole person”. Maria Montessori said “show me the child at six and I will show you the man he will be.” Our staff believes this philosophy to be true and we realize the importance of these developmental stages in each child’s life.