Learning How to Learn

Developing the Transition to Abstract Thinking


The Montessori learning experience is cumulative: what a child learns in the third 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 (think of going to college and quitting the year prior to graduation after all that hard work).

In the Montessori environment there is tremendous emphasis on having a child use the concrete manipulative to transition into abstract thinking. This means a child will begin using materials as a hands-on experience, using all of their senses...they will see the materials, listen, feel, and touch their work whereas later, they can think about the work in their head. Kindergarten is a critical developmental time when the child's previous experiences in a self-directed classroom of learning comes together for those wonderful "Ah-ha!" moments!


Differences Between Traditional "Kindergarten" & Montessori Third Year


There are important differences between a third year Montessori program and that of a traditional, public school "kindergarten." 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.  

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