Cosmic Education and the Montessori Method at Kilmacow
Montessori School Cosmic Education is a cornerstone of the Montessori Philosophy. At its core, Cosmic Education tells the story of the interconnectedness of all things. It describes the role of education as comprehensive, holistic, and purposeful; to encompass the development of the whole person within the context of the universe. It also introduces the possibility that humanity might have a “cosmic task,” to better the world for future generations.
Dr Maria Montessori believed that Cosmic Education was vital to early education because it provides children with a framework to understand their world and their place within it. Children learn to respect studies of the past, develop an understanding of ethics, and value the contributions of others. In this way, Cosmic Education teaches children to become aware of the interdependence of all things and develop a sense of gratitude that comes from that awareness.
In Kilmacow Montessori School, Cosmic Education forms a platform for teaching children to understand and adapt to their environment. In the first plane of development, up to 6 years, Cosmic Education introduces the child to the natural world through experiences with nature and the sensorial learning materials. These experiences teach children to refine their senses, and thus the way they process and understand their world. These skills aid the child’s development, and confidence with themselves, their society, and their world as a whole.
The Montessori Method is divided in to five main areas:
• Practical Life
In our classroom, you will find a "Practical Life" shelf, a “Sensorial" shelf, a "Language” shelf, a "Maths" shelf and a “Culture” shelf. One of the important things to keep in mind in Montessori is that no area works in isolation. Practical life and sensorial exercises form the foundation for language and maths. Culture can be incorporated into all areas.
Children are naturally curious and want to participate in the activities of daily life they see all around them. Maria Montessori developed the Practical Life exercises to give children the opportunity to practice those skills, gain independence and become fully functional members of their community. These activities help children develop their motor skills, refining both large and small muscle coordination. A child may repeat a particular exercise over and over, perfecting his/her movements and developing concentration. Dr Montessori believed children’s strongest link to their brains are in their hands, noting that repeated motor movements develop the pathways in the brain that help children learn. Practical life skills also include Social Grace and Courtesy Skills, care of the person and care for the environment.
One of the things that set a Montessori school apart from normal play/pre-school is the materials that are used in the classroom. In a regular childcare setting, children are usually given a variety of toys or educational games to keep them entertained throughout the day. In a Montessori school, however, the children are provided with unique learning materials that are designed specifically to foster sensorial development.
Dr Maria Montessori believed that children began having sensorial experiences at birth. According to Montessori’s studies, as children grow up, they explore and learn by interacting with their environment through their senses. This unique period in a child’s development happens between the ages of birth and six years old. Dr Montessori designed the Sensorial materials To help children express, classify, and broaden their sensory experiences
The purpose of these Sensorial materials is to aid the child in refining senses and utilising language in describing these qualities. These materials are an integral part of developing the whole child — directly building the “mathematical mind” and indirectly preparing for writing.
Language materials help the child build tools for communication; they help them to label experiences in a meaningful way. We are all pre-wired for language, we naturally filter out competing sounds to focus on language in our culture. Language is not an isolated topic but runs through the curriculum.
To help the child in their development of language, the Montessori classroom is designed to help the child reach new levels of consciousness. The learning of language is not done through subjects, the child learns at their own rhythm and pace. This allows the child to concentrate on the learning of each important step in language so that each progressive step is done easily and without thought on the part of the child. The special materials play an important role in aiding the child to develop powers of communication and expression, of organisation and classification and development. At Kilmacow Montessori school, we will support the child in their learning, give them order to classify what they have learned, help the child build self -confidence and provide the child with meaningful activities. The spoken language is the foundation for writing and then reading.
Montessori Maths involves the the use of concrete learning materials that promote logic, sequence, order, and the extrapolation of truth. The Montessori philosophy states that the child has a "mathematical mind" and an internal drive to understand the environment around them. Their minds are full of energy that propels them to absorb, manipulate, classify, order, sequence, abstract, and repeat. These tendencies are those which help the child to acquire a greater depth to their mathematical understanding.
It is the precision of the presentations and the exactness of the math materials that attract children to this area of the classroom. As well, children in the Montessori classroom are in the process of fine tuning their perceptions. Children are sensitive to every small change in order, sequence, and size. They will notice a teeny tiny bug in the crack of the path whereas adults will walk by blindly without notice. The exercises in the maths area offer the children the "keys" that they will need to send them on the road to further exploration and maturation of the mathematical mind. The ways in which the materials are ordered allows the children to complete a full intellectual cycle that helps them to achieve the freedom to become independent.
Maths in the Montessori classroom is made up of many little details that form a whole, but each detail is complete unto itself. All early math exercises are worked at the sensorial level to ensure that the child relates the quantity to the symbol, concrete to abstract.
The Culture area of Montessori allows the child to explore the natural world around them and includes:
• Geography (continents, landforms, earth layers, solar system)
• Zoology (classification, physiology of animals)
• Botany (ecology, classification, physiology of plants)
• History (timelines, people of the past, civilisations)
• Creative/Performing Arts
• Physical Education
• People of the world
Similar to the Maths area, Culture can often be a challenging subject for the under 6’s, but when introduced during the “Absorbent Mind” period of learning, children become familiar with concepts of observation, science, hypothesis etc. Montessori Culture activities help to inspire a love of learning and offer children a new perspective of the world. Children's eyes light up with the games and activities that explore far off lands, providing their imagination with more places to explore and visit in the future.