Montessori and STEM learning go hand in hand. If you’re not familiar with STEM, this educational acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Some educational programs take STEM a step farther, turning it into STEAM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math.
While STEM concepts certainly have their place in the sophisticated coursework that you’d find in high school or college classrooms, they’re also a cornerstone of the early childhood curriculum. When it comes to Montessori, the educational philosophy supports STEM learning in meaningful ways that make it an integral part of your child’s learning and development.
What do you, as a parent, need to know about STEM in the Montessori classroom? Take a look at the hows and whys of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math in the Montessori environment.
Discovery and Exploration
Science and the other STEM areas are largely experimental and exploratory pursuits. Sitting passively in front of a teacher as they instruct a classroom of preschoolers on scientific content won’t help the young child to learn.
Instead, a hands-on, exploration-based approach can provide the young child with the ability to make their own discoveries and learn the material in ways that are meaningful to them. And this is exactly what happens in the Montessori classroom.
The Montessori preschool classroom is structured in a way that promotes independent exploration — of both materials and concepts/ideas. You won’t find the teacher lecturing the children on science, math, or any other subject. But you will see the children choosing their own materials to use and exploring or experimenting with them.
This type of discovery-based learning helps the child to build confidence in their own abilities, increases interest (in what the child is learning), and encourages the child to use critical thinking skills.
Materials That Move
Unlike the traditional school structure, which typically includes swapping out old materials for new ones as soon as the child masters the task at hand or ages out of the suggested use range, Montessori materials often grow with the child. You may find that your child is using the same materials in kindergarten that they explored with as a toddler or preschooler.
If this type of use seems repetitive or restrictive, think again. Montessori materials are designed to move with the child, at their own pace. How does this type of material use work in the classroom?
Look at materials such as the Golden Beads. In preschool, children use this math material to count or to explore concepts such as weight. As the child grows and learns, they can use the beads to understand the decimal system or even multiply/divide.
Likewise, the binomial cube can help younger children to explore colors and shapes, while older students use the same material to learn about higher level math/algebra.
An interdisciplinary approach to learning is the basis of STEM. These distinct areas of learning aren’t just randomly combined into one curricular block. In many STEM activities/lessons, each area is explored on its own. But with the overlap between the sciences, math, and technology, it’s easy to see how they can relate to one another.
Montessori classrooms don’t focus on a one-dimensional use of materials, and they don’t create lessons in isolation. With the child as the guide, the exploration you’ll find in a Montessori preschool can bridge several different subjects — depending on how the child chooses to use the material. This makes Montessori an inviting environment for STEM activities and discovery.
Are you looking for a Montessori program that will help your child to grow and develop? Contact Miniapple International Montessori School for more information.