The practical life area is designed to teach the student to function on an independent level with the environment around them. The materials are designed to help the child learn how to break down
the required actions, to perform them step-by-step, and to do them repeatedly in order to hone their skills. Practice in the area allow the student to improve skills with order, concentration, coordination, and independence.
As the student systematically acquires skills for self-care (dressing, tying shoes, washing hands) and care for his environment (washing tables, preparing food, watering plants), the student gains independence from adult help.
The sensorial area deals with developing the five senses and helps students acquire the capacity to sustain concentration. Additionally, the sensorial area includes geometry, as a subject, as it is introduced to the child through their senses.
Each student has the opportunity to manipulate scientifically designed didactic materials with their hands in order to develop mental and physical skills that will benefit them for years to come. As a result of repeated practice, the student develops the mental stamina and skill involved in concentrating over time. In addition to the growth of concentration, the student develops the capacity to be active-minded, sustain concentration, and exercise sharp powers of observation. Overall, this area provides the student with a firm cognitive foundation for their journey of becoming a careful observer and conceptual thinker.
At the ages of 3-6, language exercises train students to focus on sounds and noises and to discriminate between them. For the preschool student, building vocabulary and learning to write and read are arguably the most important academic skills to acquire. The broader one’s vocabulary, the easier reading comprehension will be in the future.
Most American schools believe that reading and handwriting are taught to six or seven year olds in Kindergarten and first grade – and most preschools therefore work on “reading readiness,” not actual reading and writing. In contrast, Montessori emphasizes the importance for students to begin learning the basics of reading and writing as soon as the student is ready.
The Montessori math program introduces students to numbers through enjoyable activities and methods in which they can visualize numbers. By starting with mathematical concepts early, and drawing on the child’s natural interests, the math area enables students to gain a head start in numeracy – and, more importantly, a confidence in their own ability to do math.
Montessori mathematics focuses on numeration, the decimal system, and geometry. The base ten system that is employed encourages the student to sequence and order their work. The math area allows for students to begin with very concrete materials and then move to the more abstract work. Each student works to memorize facts and apply them to understanding abstract concepts.
Cultural subjects include history, geography, art, physical science, music, and physical movement.