Childcare and the Montessori Method: Materials Make the Difference

Childcare is not all the same. Yes, there are general "daycares" that supervise your little one while you're away. But there are also centers that focus on educational philosophies. Montessori is one of these types of early learning environments. If you're considering this type of program, understanding what your little learner will be doing during her day is a must-do. This includes getting to know the materials that she'll use. Unlike other childcare centers, Montessori schools use specially chosen and designed materials. What do you need to know about the materials your child will use in a Montessori preschool program?

One Skill

When you walk into a toy store or browse online, you might find what seems like a buffet of toys that claim to teach two, three, four, or more skills at one time. But is that really the best way for a young child to learn? You're left wondering if your child can really develop fine motor skills, learn to count, begin reading, build problem-solving abilities, and pick up a dozen or so new vocabulary words at the same time from the same toy. Probably not.

Montessori materials recognize the need for a child to tackle one learning task or skill without added distractions. You'll find materials that focus on this idea and allow your child to explore one concept at a time.

Hands-On Learning

There's no sitting and listening to a teacher lecture in a Montessori classroom. You're not likely to walk into the pre-k room and find an adult doing a science experiment, painting an art project, or acting out a play for the children to passively watch. Instead, Montessori materials invite young children to get hands on and make their own discoveries.

Materials in these childcare centers provide plenty of room for manipulation, experimentation, and exploration—at the child's own pace.

Growth Together

Go back to those toy-store playthings (you know, the ones with the bright lights and loud sounds that claim to improve more than a handful of skills at once). It's likely that you'll see an age range with a lower and upper number.

Montessori materials are made to grow with your child as they learn new skills and develop. This is why you won't see an upper age limit to these materials. As your child uses an item in the Montessori classroom, she might start small—with the most basic type of play or exploration. As she grows, she can still use the same item, but in a very different way. This doesn't just extend through the preschool years. Children can use the same Montessori materials in elementary school as well.

When you choose a Montessori childcare center, you're getting much more than a place for your child to spend the day. She'll learn and grow with the help of a specially prepared environment and the use of strategically designed materials!