The Montessori Method
Who is Maria Montessori and what is her philosophy?
Dr. Maria Montessori was the first woman to graduate from the University of Rome Medical School. During Medical school she studied deficient children and became interested in teaching. In 1909 she began her life as an educator. She worked with very poor children observing and developing her method which later carried over to all social classes. In 1920, Montessori schools were started all over the world and in the U.S.
Dr. Montessori’s approach shares many ideas with Jean Piaget. They both believed that the child from 3-6 is led by concrete experiences to progressively more abstract levels. The basis for moving into abstract thought is through repetition.
Her method was also influenced by the Sensitive Periods of the child, which are successions of stages of mental development each extending and building out of the previous one. These periods are approximately from birth to 6 years old and are:
- The need for order in the environment
- Use of hand and tongue
- Development of Walking
- A fascination with minute and detailed objects
- A time of intense social interest
Based on Montessori’s observations of the children, their manner of working and the Sensitive Periods she developed sensorial equipment for the five senses and a way of guiding children to explore their world. The Montessori classroom is truly a special place for children.
The Montessori Method is based on the observation of the child. Key components are the prepared environment and the teachers who prepare it. It’s designed to meet the child’s needs for self-construction and reveal her personality and growth patterns. Freedom is essential in the classroom as it allows for independence. Children may choose their work dependent upon knowledge of the exercises. So, before using the materials the child first must have an introduction to them either through an individual/group lesson by a teacher or an older child.
This is perhaps the greatest role of parenting. More than directing and telling children what to do, it’s helping them connect with their own gifts—particularly conscience.
Free the child's potential, and you will transform him into the world.
...it is important to realize that by education Montessori did not mean an attempt by adults to force the intellectual development of children. She believed in a “natural unfolding of the child’s intelligence."