Learning How to Learn
Developing the Transition to Abstract Thinking
The Montessori learning experience is cumulative: what a child learns in the kindergarten year depends on what he has learned in his previous Montessori years. In many ways the preceding years are
of lower utility if she cannot continue her interaction with the Montessori materials to complete the three year cycle.
In the Montessori environment there is tremendous emphasis on having a child use the concrete manipulative to transition into abstract thinking. Kindergarten is a critical developmental time when the transition should not be broken. If the transition is allowed to take place in the Montessori environment, children will begin to learn to read, do mathematical operations and begin to think about the world in terms of inter-related facts. It is a social time as well, when children are starting to interact with each other in work and play, and to pay attention to the thoughts and feelings of others.
Differences Between Traditional and Montessori Kindergarten
There are important differences between a Montessori kindergarten and a traditional one. In most traditional kindergarten classes, the primary emphasis is on developing social skills with some preliminary work in cognitive “readiness”. Contrastingly, a Montessori classroom focuses on developing cognitive skills on a firm foundation of sensory and motor skill training. In a Montessori classroom, a child progresses at his own rate; there are no pressures to “catch up” or “slow down” to the level of the class. The child working at his own rate develops good work habits including initiative, the ability to process information, to think critically, to analyze, and the ability to persist in completing a task. We emphasize making each child feel competent in his or her own abilities and interested in learning how to learn, ask questions and be engaged in their individual and team efforts to identify a problem and collaborating to find a possible solution.