A Montessori preschool is focused on the total development of children. Toward that end, it uses play-based, hands-on activities that mimic or otherwise engage children in tasks and goals. These activities often overlap in developmental benefits and are designed to be self-correcting in nature so that children know immediately whether they have reached the correct result.
Fine Motor Skills
Preschool children need to develop fine motor skills in order to use writing implements or manipulate other educational tools. As early as the daycare years, kids are presented with activities that develop these skills by encouraging children to manipulate small objects, grip things, and such. The idea is that children will become adept at holding pencils, markers, and scissors by the time they graduate into kindergarten.
Math and Language
Math and language are fundamentally entwined in everything we do, and learning math or building new vocabulary occurs in the process of all other activities in one way or another. There are also specific Montessori workstations that promote math and language, including sorting or counting the rings of the Pink Tower, or learning to build words using the Movable alphabet.
Practical experience is any activity that teaches children real-life abilities. Small chores encourage children to be accomplished helpers with the ability to perform tasks like cleaning up their toys, slicing soft fruits, or helping mom and dad with household projects.
There are many types of science experiments that require hands-on activity, and children are often mesmerized by the “magic” of watching the physical sciences. Performing simple experiments with common ingredients help children develop fine motor skills, encourages the use of critical thinking, and promotes practical experiences like measuring, comparing, and sorting.
Developing Social Skills
As they develop the skills and academic knowledge imparted by the various hands-on activities, children develop concurrent social skills. Empathy, negotiation, and courtesy are fundamental aspects of social development that are practiced as a matter of course in the Montessori classroom.
It has been shown that children learn more readily and sometimes retain information longer when they absorb it through hands-on activity. Maria Montessori recognized this as a natural way of learning that provided specific benefits for the development of children.