By Anisa Foy
“What is a scientist? We give the name scientist to the type of man who has felt experiment to be a means guiding him to search out the deep truth of life, to lift a veil from its fascinating secrets, and who, in this pursuit, has felt arising within him a love for mysteries of nature, so passionate as to annihilate the thought of himself.”
– Maria Montessori, The Montessori Method
The Montessori curriculum is rich in all aspects of science and starts as soon as the child enters preschool. Science is all around and young children start interaction with nature as soon as they are able to observe the world around them.
The first plane of development is in the primary classroom. The child is naturally introduced to plants and animals in the environment. This is followed by a more formal presentation of parts of a flower, parts of a tree and different shapes of leaves. Children are encouraged to collect leaves, draw their shapes and name them. They also study the life cycle of animals and insects. They experience the cycle of life through the caterpillar by watching as it approaches the butterfly stage. The child is also given an introduction to botany and zoology through hands on activities.
A passion for the study of science is fostered by appealing to the child’s very natural sense of wonder at a young age. Dr. Montessori realized the child’s sensitive period for language was strongest at this age. All nomenclature for botany and zoology is presented in the primary classroom at this time. Physical geography is presented with practical demonstrations of all the land and water forms found on their planet Earth. There is a wealth of cards, charts and booklets, giving the child the name for all the science around them. The Montessori method of teaching encourages children to see the science that is all around them.
The primary years present children with keys to to their world. By the time the time the child enters the Elementary classroom he/she is ready and prepared to build on the scientific knowledge they have gained. Montessori elementary education presents the child with keys to the universe through what Dr. Montessori termed “Cosmic Education”. The child’s imagination is ignited by the five great lessons that provide the springboard for the entire elementary curriculum.
The five Great Lessons cover the beginnings of the universe, origins of life, evolutions of humans, development of language, and history of mathematics. These stories are presented every year and as the children mature and grow they absorb the concepts with increased levels of comprehension. Understanding of the interconnectedness of all life and physical aspects of the universe is enhanced at this age. These stories describe the need to explore, investigate and experiment. The child is encouraged to question, hypothesize, experiment and make his/her own conclusions.
There is a huge misconception that the Montessori curriculum does not contain science, because there is no subject labeled as such on the shelf. The reality is that the whole Montessori curriculum is based on scientific fact and the scientific method. Dr. Maria Montessori was a scientist and a medical doctor, herself. Every aspect of her educational principles is based on her personal observations, experiments, and direct study of the child. Every Montessori Primary or Elementary classroom fosters and encourages scientific knowledge, in all areas of Biology, Geography, Arts and Humanities as well as physical and outdoor activities. Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics, which are collectively labeled as S.T.E.A.M. education, was incorporated into education by Dr. Montessori over a hundred years ago. A school that is based on the true Montessori philosophy, presents science to the child in an inclusive manner. The Montessori method caters to children individually while teaching them to love the science and that it is all around them. Education is a preparation for life, and Arborland Montessori Children’s Academy is committed to prepare the child for science education, S.T.E.A.M. education, the 21st century and even beyond.