Setting the Foundation
The Early Childhood environment is the first stop in the Foundational Decade, from ages two through twelve. It sets the groundwork for future learning, by developing the requisite skills for more complex tasks. Toddler and Three-to-Six classrooms nurture and refine developmentally appropriate skills based on the basic Montessori principles for learning: order, coordination, concentration, and independence–or "OCCI."
Early Childhood Skills
Montessori Early Childhood classrooms are particularly adept at following the child through his or her independent development; providing age- and skill-level-appropriate tasks and materials to help scaffold the naturally developing abilities of the child. By focusing on these universal benchmark skills, Montessori practitioners can help guide their students through the appropriate skills, accelerating their development, without pushing the child too far from their comfort zone.
Order is encouraged externally through the meticulously prepared environment, classroom rules, and daily routines. Even the youngest children quickly begin to internalize this order through their experiences within the classroom.
Fine and gross motor skills, coordination, are encouraged throughout the classroom environment. Coordination builds from whole body to more refined movements. A Montessori classroom provides endelss opportunities, both directly and indirectly, to refine gross and fine motor skills, through relevant and motivational tasks.
Concentration is an essential skill to support effective learning. Classroom rules, in conjunction with materials that encourage hands-on work and are appealing to the child, help develop concentration skills. The child is encouraged to choose "work," for learning is the work of the child. Each work has a purpose apparent to the child, and the child is encouraged to repeat lessons often. Through this repetition, the child gains a deeper understanding of the concept presented, and extends their ability to concentrate.
Cultivating independence is what makes the Montessori environment truly unique. The independent child thinks, "I can do it. I want to do it. I have what I need to do it." The freedom to choose, try, fail, and ask for help when needed, leads to perseverance and continued success. The Montessori child is given opportunities to succeed, at his or her ability, in all domains of learning. The environment, peers, and teachers bridge the gap between where each child is and the next step.
A child who is an independent learner can concentrate, remain organized, and has the necessary motor skills to succeed in school, and in life. The Early Childhood framework is specifically designed to deliver these outcomes.