WHO WAS MARIA MONTESSORI?
Maria Montessori lived from 1870 to 1952. She was the first woman to attend medical school and the first female Doctor of Medicine in Italy.
Through her work with handicapped and socially deprived children, she developed her unique educational method, known as the Montessori method.
As a result of her further study, observation, and experimentation, she found the principles of her method to be applicable to all children.
She has had an impact on the field of education in general and the way we understand and teach children today.
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 the child’s developmental needs for freedom within limits, as well as, a carefully prepared environment, which guarantees exposure to materials and experiences.
Through this, the child develops intelligence as well as physical and psychological abilities. It is designed to take full advantage of the child’s desire to learn and their unique ability to develop their own capabilities. The child needs adults to expose him to the possibilities of his life, but the child must determine his response to those 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.
• The child possess an unusual sensitivity and intellectual ability to absorb and learn from his environment that is unlike those of the adult both in quality and capacity.
• The most important years of a child’s growth are the first six years of life when unconscious learning is gradually brought to the conscious level.
The child has a deep love and need for purposeful work. He works, however, not as an adult for completion of a job, but the sake of an activity itself. It is this activity, which enables him to accomplish his most important goal: the development of himself, his mental, physical, and psychological powers.
WHAT MAKES MONTESSORI EDUCATION UNIQUE?
The whole child approach:
The primary goal of a Montessori program is to help each child reach their full potential in all areas of life. Activities promote the development of social skills, emotional growth, and physical coordination as well as cognitive preparation for future intellectual academic endeavors. The holistic curriculum under the direction of a specifically prepared teacher, allows the child to experience the joy of learning, the time to enjoy the process, and ensures the development of self esteem. It provides the experiences from which children create their knowledge.
The prepared environment:
In order for self-directed learning to take place, the whole learning environment, classroom, materials, and social setting/atmosphere must be supportive of the child. The teacher provides the necessary resources, including opportunities for children to function in a safe and positive environment. Together, the teacher and child form a relationship based on trust and respect that fosters self confidence and a willingness to try new things. to try new things.
The Montessori materials:
Dr. Montessori’s observations of the kinds of things which children enjoy, and go back to repeatedly, led her to design a number of multisensory, sequential, and self correcting materials to facilitate learning.
Originally called a “directress” the Montessori teacher functions as a designer of the environment, role model, demonstrator, recordkeeper and meticulous observer of each child’s behavior and growth.
INTRODUCTION TO THE MATERIALS
The main way children are introduced to the materials in the classroom is through careful presentation. A presentation is a time when the teacher slowly and precisely uses the material in its intended way while an individual or small group of children observe.
During such a presentation unnecessary words and movements are avoided and actions are broken into discernible steps in order to increase understanding and the chance for success when the child uses the materials later.