by Sarah Werner Andrews
One of the more challenging aspects of Montessori teacher training is understanding the developmental progressions of the materials. We all understand that presentations are not given according to a checklist or because a child is a particular age, so how do we know when to offer lessons and what a child might be choosing from in different areas of the environment?
One of the ways we help students get this “big picture” is through an activity of laying out all of the materials in relationship to one another according to developmental progressions. To create these progressions, students discuss how sensitive periods might draw a child to a particular activity, what types of preliminary abilities or concepts may come into play, the level of difficulty, how the activity is currently set up, and other factors that might determine when an activity might be offered. As there is no one “right way,” students share their rationale, and the factors that went into making the choices they made. This is a great activity on many levels, and we find it particularly useful as we are finishing up an area to help students integrate their understanding before we begin new presentations in a new area of the environment.