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Opinion - The importance of movement and touch in Montessori learning | Montessori Hampstead | Nursery Hampstead


In a Montessori nursery or school classroom, a great deal of emphasis is put on hands-on, concrete learning materials. The object is to develop the concept first and create a deep understanding to help the child to move to more abstract work when he or she is ready.

By using concrete materials during the early, sensitive years, the Montessori child can learn the basic concepts of mathematics and language. As a preparation for literacy work, we use sandpaper letters to trace the shapes with our fingers. Sandpaper touch boards are used in sensorial. Before we used any sandpaper materials we wash our hands to sensitise them. Many of the practical life activities utilise the pincer grip in preparation for writing.

When we do maths work, it is very concrete; we feel the number rods and run our fingers along them to appreciate the difference between 1 and 5. The decimal system is taught through the very attractive golden beads. One singular bead is one unit and a child can concretely understand the quantity of 100 but handling the one hundred bead cube.

Montessori believed that ‘what the hand does, the mind remembers’. All of the materials in the Montessori classroom have been specifically designed to attract the interest of the child. We pick up and shake the sound boxes, we hold the cubes of the pink tower a certain way in order to appreciate their different sizes, we sometimes carry out activities with blindfolds on to emphasise and isolate the sense of touch.

By the time a child has gone through the Montessori curriculum, he or she is ready to work abstractly as all of the concepts the concrete materials teach have been internalised. They then become ready to work with a paper and pencil and no longer need the Montessori material.

It is nice to see Montessori directly quoted in an article about this style of education: ‘Movement, or physical activity, is thus an essential factor in intellectual growth, which depends upon the impressions received from outside. Through movement we come in contact with external reality, and it is through these contacts that we eventually acquire even abstract ideas’.

Read more about the core foundation of Montessori, plus how we apply them at Casa Dei Bambini Montessori, Hampstead. If you’d like to know more, please ask us.

Casa dei Bambini Montessori School