Dr. Maria Montessori concluded 80 years ago that, at certain points early in a child’s life, they will pass through sensitive periods when they possess a unique and amazing ability for learning. To take advantage of these sensitive periods, the child is provided an environment (the Montessori classroom) that is equipped to stimulate his/her particular interest and allow them to exercise an innate ability to learn. To a child in this environment, learning is never difficult or tiresome.
The Montessori method includes an environment (the classroom) with educational materials and equipment, many of which are self-correcting. The activities and materials encourage each child to discover for themself, within a framework of order, and choose and complete tasks designed for success at each stage of their development.
This approach not only challenges the most gifted child, but also encourages each child to meet their potential. This is done with the guidance of a Montessori trained teacher. The children in a Montessori classroom continue to prove Dr. Montessori’s theory — children can learn to read, write and calculate as easily and naturally as they can walk and talk.
A Montessori education provides a unique cycle of learning designed to meet the individual development of each child. Children who learn the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic in this natural way have the advantage of beginning their education without drudgery, boredom or discouragement. The goal for each child is the development of their ability to solve problems using an organized approach, to use freedom wisely, to respect themself and others, but above all to take the joy of learning with them throughout life.
About Dr. Maria Montessori
Maria Montessori graduated from the University of Rome in 1896. As the first woman to practice medicine in Italy, Dr. Montessori was very involved with the care of young children. Through her observation, she came to understand how children interacted with one another, learned through the use of materials she designed, and went through specific phases of development. Her approach to education evolved based on her observations, in conjunction with her scientific background and the belief in the education of children as a means to create a better society. She continued to observe children around the world and found that the universal laws of development she had recognized were inherent to all children.
Click here to read a short biography about Dr. Maria Montessori.
The Montessori approach to education continues to be respected and practiced internationally. The Association Montessori International (AMI) was established in 1929 by Dr. Montessori in order to maintain, propagate, and further her ideas and principles for the full development of the child. AMI has teacher training centers located throughout the world.
What is the Montessori Method?
This system of education is both a philosophy of child development and a rationale for guiding such growth. It is based on two important developmental needs of children:
The need for freedom within limits.
A carefully prepared environment which guarantees exposure to materials and experiences.
Through these developmental needs, the child gains intelligence as well as physical and psychological abilities. The Montessori method of education is designed to take full advantage of children’s desires to learn and their unique ability to develop their own capabilities. Children need adults to expose them to the possibilities of their lives, but the children must determine their response to all the possibilities.
The main premises of Montessori education are:
Children are to be respected as different from adults and as individuals who differ from each other.
Children possess an unusual sensitivity and intellectual ability to absorb and learn from their environment
that are unlike those of the adult both in quality and capacity.
The most important years of children’s growth are the first six years of life when unconscious learning is gradually
brought to the conscious level.
Children have a deep love and need for purposeful work. They work, however, not as an adult for the completion of a job, but the sake of an activity itself. It is this activity which enables them to accomplish their most important goal: the development of their individual selves – their mental, physical and psychological powers.