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A child does not engage in an activity until the teacher or another student has directly demonstrated its proper use, and then the child may use it as desired (limited only by individual imagination or the material's potentially dangerous qualities). Each activity leads directly to a new level of learning or concept. When a child actively learns, that child acquires the basis for later concepts. Additionally, repetition of activities is considered an integral part of this learning process, and children are allowed to repeat activities as often as they wish. If a child expresses boredom on account of this repetition, then the child is considered to be ready for the next level of learning.
The child proceeds at his or her own pace from concrete objects and tactile experiences to abstract thinking, writing, reading, science, and mathematics. In the language area, for instance, the child begins with the sandpaper letters (26 flat wooden panels, each with a single letter of the alphabet cut from sandpaper and affixed to it). The child's first lesson is to trace the shape of the letter with their fingers while they say the phonic sound of the letter. A possible next level activity would then be the letter boxes (small containers each with a letter on the top, filled with objects that begin with that letter). After mastering these, the child may move on to the word boxes (small containers each with a short three-letter word on the top, for example, "CAT", containing a small wooden cat and the letters C, A, T). One child might move through all three levels of lessons in a few weeks while another might take several months; however, while there is a prescribed sequence of activities, there is no prescribed timetable. A Montessori teacher or instructor observes each child and provides each with their correspondingly appropriate lessons as they are deemed ready for them.
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