An established STEAM curriculum.
The Montessori curriculum has always been designed to be a multi-discipline and integrated program that is progressive in complexity and depth. It’s vast reach is enabled by the method that does not rely on a calendar to progress but rather the individual child’s progression through the curriculum. Foundational skills are established through multi-purpose lessons that build motor skills, concentration, and comprehension. Once fluent and automatic the ability to write letters and words smoothly accommodates expression of ideas and facts without delay in language, math, science, geography, history, and more.
A five year old’s report on the robin is a triumphant coordination of motor skill, concentration, factual knowledge, creative expression, and real work preparing him for more complex project work. Similarly, the child’s careful and detailed math workbook is filled with increasingly clearly written numbers and equations displaying understanding of mathematical operations, preparing her for exploration of data, calculations, statistics, and more. Sharing and dividing an apple progresses to an understanding of fractions that is concrete and real - rather than an isolated presentation of the number line, the apple lives in their memory and supports their comprehension of the more complex aspects of adding and subtracting fractions.
In this way, all children are able to explore concepts from an early age. Not because they themselves are unusual but because they are incredibly capable when presented with work that is based within their developmental stage. Specifically: children’s brains develop in such a way that they easily integrate tasks and information that is concrete and tangible and then move towards being able to integrate and use more and more abstract representations of information. This is why there is a VERY real difference between the colouring of pages that illustrate a drawing of ducklings next to a number and holding and placing beautiful solid objects next to numbers representing quantities. One is a colouring project - helpful for motor control, enjoyment, and for children who have established more abstract understanding there might be a connection between the number and the ducklings. The other is a multi purpose activity that builds motor skills, an appreciation of order, sequential numeral understanding, and comprehension of quantity. It simply has more accessible meaning to the child’s brain.
Compare our curriculum with that of more traditional education programs. The Montessori curriculum is organized into a spiral of integrated studies, rather than a model in which the curriculum is compartmentalized into separate subjects, with given topics considered only once at a specific grade level. In the early years, lessons are introduced simply and concretely and are reintroduced several times over succeeding years at increasing degrees of abstraction and complexity.
Much thanks to our friends at Montessori Academy of London for sharing their illustration of the spiral of the curriculum. They also have a beautiful detailed explanation of the progression of the curriculum from toddler through middle school.