The Call to Touch and Learn
All children are born with the desire to reach out and touch the world around them. Dr. Montessori said, “The hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence.” That is why that when Maria Montessori observed the child, she saw great potential for learning through the hands. She created materials and a method that has changed education across the world, through hands-on learning.
The materials she created call to the child to use all of their senses. Each and every material has a real purpose in the classroom. They are masterfully crafted to invite the child to choose, manipulate, repeat, and master the clear and concrete form of an abstract concept. These materials are always arranged in sequential order, from the simplest to the most complex; from the most concrete to the most abstract.
Another unique characteristic of these materials is what Montessori called, “control of error”, in which the solution can only be found with trial and error. After the teacher gives the child a new lesson with the materials, the child is able to practice until mastery because the materials have this unique feature. If a teacher were to intervene and correct, the joy of discovery and accomplishment would be forfeited. This “control of error” points the way to mastery.
Many may ask how a child can learn to read and work with numbers into the thousands during the preschool years. The answer would be through the materials found in a Montessori classroom. For while the child is using the materials – investigating, manipulating, arranging, examining, experimenting and building connections, he is developing stronger cognitive capabilities.
Other schools have adopted hands-on learning to teach a concept, but a Montessori classroom has all of the sequential materials that lead to this extraordinary learning. Researchers in the field of education now agree with Dr. Montessori that learning through direct experience and the process of investigation and discovery is much more successful than for children to sit and listen to us explain or watch us to understand an abstract concept. Children learn best when they are actively constructing their own discoveries. These learning times will have a much deeper and wider impact on a child’s mastery of a concept than inactive listening and/or rote memorization.
Looking around a Montessori classroom, you will find activities in geography, geometry, science, math, language, art, music and more. They call to your child to touch and learn. This is truly an education that will last a lifetime.
“A child who has become master of his acts through long and repeated exercise,
and who has been encouraged by the pleasant and interesting activities in which
he has been engaged, is a child filled with health and joy and remarkable for his
calmness and discipline.
-Dr. Maria Montessori