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Montessori Curriculum Nurtures Experiential Learning

Montessori Curriculum

In the early stages of development, children learn the fundamental principles, values, and skills that will prepare them to be strong leaders. Jean Piaget’s development theory outlines the cognitive stages that occur from childhood to adulthood. Montessori schools in Markham, help children throughout these stages by promoting experiential learning. This article will explain the developmental stages of intellectual development, and how Trillium, a Markham Montessori school, helps prepare students for their future.

Piaget Stages of Development

According to WebMd, Piaget divided a child’s cognitive development into four stages that progress in this order:

  • Sensorimotor
  • Preoperational
  • Concrete operational
  • Formal operational

The sensorimotor phase is the first stage in a child’s life from birth to 24 months. This is the first stage where a child begins to sense the world around them as they focus on touch, sound, and sight in their intimate environments. Children between the ages of 18-24 months and 7 years, are in a preoperational stage of intellectual development. During this stage, language, memory, and imagination develop along with an increase in engagement and awareness.

Next on the continuum is the concrete operational stage, through which children from ages 7 to 11 demonstrate logic and become aware of their surroundings. The final phase of Piaget’s Four Stages of Development is 11 years into adulthood, and is referred to as the Formal operational stage. Children will continue to learn how to investigate nonfigurative concepts and advance in areas such as algebra and science.

Experiential Learning

Michelle Schwartz, research associate at Ryerson University, states that experiential learning helps students reflect about a direct experience. Students develop new skills, attitudes, and ways of thinking through this type of learning. Writer, Andrew Potter, finds that experiential learning is an important part of a child’s curriculum from Kindergarten to 20 years of age. Potter states, “Experiential learning provides sensory participation—an immersive experience that aligns aspirations to a purpose or direction.” Forms of experiential learning, as outlined by Schwartz, include role-paying, simulations, presentations and group work.

Montessori Curriculum

Similar to Piaget’s theory, the Montessori curriculum is also founded on the idea that children progress through four planes of physical and psychological development. The learning environment must facilitate the growth from each stage, and Learning Theories explains how this relates to experiential learning. Maria Montessori created the Montessori curriculum to emphasize active learning and independence, while following these basic principles:

  • The classroom should offer free exploration for children to “absorb” information and experiences.
  • The classroom should contain materials that are organized and available for free exploration to occur.
  • Teachers guide children to teach themselves by providing a learning environment and opportunity to make individual choices.

Andrew Potter also explains that this form of learning “provides sensory participation”, which helps children build independence. By following these principles, students who grow in the Montessori curriculum are developing essential skills through experiential learning. Trillium, a Markham private school, offers this Montessori curriculum to all age groups.