THE MONTESSORI METHOD
The Montessori Method of education, developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, is a child-centered educational approach based on scientific observations of children from birth to adulthood.
Dr. Montessori’s Method has been time tested, with over 100 years of success in diverse cultures throughout the world. It is a view of the child as one who is naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a supportive, thoughtfully prepared learning environment. It is an approach that values the human spirit and the development of the whole child—physical, social, emotional, cognitive.
The teacher, child, and environment create a learning triangle. The classroom is prepared by the teacher to encourage independence, freedom within limits, and a sense of order. The child, through individual choice, makes use of what the environment offers to develop himself, interacting with the teacher when support and/or guidance is needed.
DR. MARIA MONTESSORI
Dr Maria Montessori was born in 1870 and was the first woman doctor in Italy to have studied Education, Philosophy, Psychology and Anthropology.
At 28, she worked with defective children and designed materials and techniques that allowed the children to work in areas considered beyond their capacity. Montessori’s “defectives” passed the state exams along with the normal children. She concluded that if retarded children could be brought to the same academic level as normal children, something must be wrong with the education of normal children.
At the age of 37 she took responsibility for a group of poor children in the slums of Rome and founded her first school which later became world famous.
Dr. Montessori opened the Casa dei Bambini, or Children’s House, in a low-income district of Rome. Her unique philosophy sparked the interest of educators worldwide, and in the following decades Montessori schools opened throughout Europe, in North and South America, and finally, on every continent but Antarctica.
Dr Montessori lectured throughout the world and wrote many books. She designed an extensive range of special teaching materials which form the basis of the materials that are used today.
There are now more than 22,000 Montessori schools in at least 110 countries worldwide.
Dr Maria Montessori has inspired many adults all over the world to follow her philosophy to enable children to build firm foundations to evolve into young adults by allowing each child to realise their full potential through a holistic educational approach that develops the whole child.
The Montessori philosophy, founded and researched by Dr Montessori herself, originated from her observations of under privileged children who a desire to learn. When given specifically designed tools, children were stimulated and motivated, developing at a vast rate. These observations led Dr Montessori to believe these materials could be of benefit to all children.
Dr Maria Montessori believed that children had a huge capacity to learn between the ages of birth to 6 years and it was within these critical years that each child’s future foundations were laid. These foundations promote the whole child to develop physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually, whilst stimulating their language and the child’s need to explore and absorb knowledge.
Within the Montessori philosophy, members of staff are not teachers, they are observers. They provide opportunities for children to learn in an environment which has been prepared for them; always available at a level to meet their individual needs. The Montessori Directress allows each child to develop at their own rate, ensuring they are able to reach their full potential. Each child is valued and respected for their achievements and abilities.
BENEFITS OF MONTESSORI
Montessori education offers the children opportunities to develop their potential as they step out into the world as engaged, competent, responsible, and respectful citizens with an understanding and appreciation that learning is for life.
• Each child is valued as a unique individual.
Montessori education recognizes that children learn in different ways, and accommodates all learning styles. Students are also free to learn at their own pace, each advancing through the curriculum as and when he is ready, guided by the teacher and an individualized learning plan.
• Beginning at an early age, Montessori students develop order, coordination & independence.
Classroom design, materials, and daily routines support the individual’s “self regulation” (ability to educate one’s self, and to think about what one is learning), toddlers through adolescents.
• Students are supported in becoming active seekers of knowledge.
Teachers provide environments where students have the freedom and the tools to pursue answers to their own questions.
• Montessori students enjoy freedom within limits
Working within parameters set by their teachers, students are active participants in deciding what their focus of learning will be. Montessorians understand that internal satisfaction drives the child’s curiosity and interest and results in joyous learning that is sustainable over a lifetime.
"The greatest sign of success for a teacher... is to be able to say, "The children are now working as if I did not exist..." - Dr. Maria Montessori
It’s often hard to spot the teacher in a Montessori classroom. She may be sitting with a preschooler next to a floor mat, arranging colored rectangles from darkest to lightest, or intently observing as a handful of elementary students dissect a leaf.
She won’t be presenting information for rote learning. Rather, she’ll be demonstrating specially designed learning materials that serve as a springboard for investigation and discovery. At the heart of the Montessori Method is the concept that mastery is best achieved through exploration, imitation, repetition, and trial and error.
The teacher thoughtfully prepares a classroom environment with materials and activities that meet his students’ unique interests, academic level, and developmental needs. These he introduces to each child sequentially, laying the foundation for independent learning.
Teachers educated in the Montessori Method bring distinctive skills to the task. Their quiet orchestrations lead to magical moments as young children exclaim “I learned it myself!”—and older students think it.
Called a “Directress” by Montessori Method founder Dr. Maria Montessori (back in the day when teachers were mostly women!), and sometimes known as a “guide,” the Montessori teacher plays many roles as she directs, or guides, her students.