Practical Life is divided into 4 categories: Care of Self, Care of the Environment, Concentration & Coordination and Social Graces. For these exercises we use familiar objects – buttons, brushes, dishes, pitchers, water and many other things which the child recognizes from her home experience. Practical Life is a very important part of the Montessori program. Each task helps the child to perfect her coordination so that she will be able to work later with the more intricate academic materials. No learning takes place without concentration and attention which these exercises help develop.
Sensorial materials are designed to organize, classify and categorize impressions that are found in nature. This area works with “materialized abstractions” taking fundamental qualities found in the world and materializing them in concrete form for the child to work with. Each of these materials isolates one defining quality such as color, weight, shape, texture, size, sound, smell, etc. helping the child to distinguish and relate new information to what he already knows.
Language is expression of the spirit of man. It is the most important and powerful of the human tendencies. Language is a creation of man – not an instinct. The power of communication has an act of agreement that certain symbols have certain sounds. In the classroom we give the child keys and he will read and write. But first the child must be interested in sounds before introducing the graphic symbols and to insure this interest we expose the child to conversations, poems, stories, etc. Later, we show him the symbols for those sounds with sandpaper letters and from there he begins to build words with the movable alphabet. Assistance in the overall development of the child will insure the development of language.
Mathematics should be as natural to man as language. Dr. Montessori designed concrete materials to represent all types of quantities. In a Montessori environment, a child not only sees the symbol for 1, 1000, or ½, she can also hold each of the corresponding quantities in her hand. As the child masters each new skill, she can move from concrete to more abstract concepts.