Boulder Montessori School’s three bright and roomy preschool classrooms and large outdoor playground serve preschoolers ages 2 ½ to six years old. Designed in the Montessori tradition, classrooms are intentionally organized to inspire self-directed learning. Colorful and appealing educational materials are displayed on shelves accessible to all children, child-sized furniture is tailored to their needs, and there are individual and group work spaces at tables or rugs on the floor.
Within this mixed age group, children learn and advance at their own pace in a respectful, non-competitive atmosphere. The younger children learn by the example of the older children. The older children gain confidence and reinforce their knowledge by helping the younger ones.
Children are free to move around, choose the material or activity they will use, and determine whether they will work alone or with a friend. Teachers interact with one child at a time or in a small group, demonstrating the use of the materials and recording each child’s progress. As children learn and grow, they progress individually at their own pace from practical life exercises to sensory materials to academic materials.
Practical life activities build gross and fine motor skills and coordination as well as develop concentration. There are many tasks, such as care of self (e.g., dressing, tying shoes, etc.), caring for the environment, and exercises to develop hand-eye coordination, presented to enable the child to build competence and independence through practice and repetition.
Sensorial materials connect the child to the physical attributes of the world around them through concrete materials that isolate one quality or aspect for hands-on exploration. Concepts presented in this area include color, weight, shape, and size, and the ability to see similarities and differences in increasingly minute variations.
Academic materials give the children many opportunities to expand their knowledge in the areas of language, mathematics, science, and geography. Children often develop readiness for reading and writing or numeracy because they have experienced concrete activities presented in small, logical steps that build upon each other in these areas.