The Montessori Philosophy

 

Dr. Maria Montessori

Born in Ancona, Italy, in 1870, Maria Montessori was the first woman to graduate from the University of Rome Medical School. Upon graduation, she specialized in treating children and over time, she began to teach, prepare materials, take notes, and reflect on the observations in her work. In 1907, she opened the first “Casa De Bambini” or Children’s House, a childcare centre in the Sans Lorenzo slums in Rome. As a scientist, Dr. Montessori made careful observations of the children in the environment and through these, she came to conclusions in which only modern science was beginning to recognize. She had studied the children and took her observations into teaching and eventually established what is known as the ‘Montessori Method.’

 

Montessori based this method into children’s education and filled their learning environment with developmentally appropriate materials that provide experiences that cultivates self-motivation and independence. She believed that a child’s work is to create the person he or she will become; or their ideal self. This is achieved through purposeful movement, exploration, and discovery of their environment. Montessori’s discoveries and method has proven themselves for over a century around the world. 

THE MONTESSORI METHOD

Key Concepts:

Human Tendencies Through a Prepared Environment and the Montessori Method, Montessori education responds to natural human tendencies. Human tendencies are tendencies and inclinations of humans that are universal, innate and present throughout life.

 

  • Order

  • Orientation

  • Exploration

  • Communication

  • Activity (work)

  • Manipulation (hands-on exploration)

  • Repetition

  • Exactness or precision

  • Abstraction

  • Self-Perfection

Sensitive Periods These are critical periods in a child’s development between birth and age six that show key sensitivity for the child’s attention and exploration of their environment. Dr. Montessori referred to the Sensitive Periods as a time when the child has “an irresistible impulse toward something in the environment which makes the child repeat with great interest so that he can establish a function.” The purpose of each sensitive period is to help them acquire a certain skill or characteristic necessary for their growth. During these periods, the acquisition of each particular skill is almost effortless on the part of the child.As children acquire the skill or characteristic, their sensitivity for it decreases and another sensitivity increases. The sensitive periods may overlap and their time frames differ. What is important to understand however is that they are not continuous. They are short periods of time in which have a beginning and an end. Once a sensitive period has passed, learning is not as deep and requires more effort by the brain. The main sensitive periods for children between the ages of birth and six years include:

 

  • Order

  • Movement

  • Language

  • Refinement of the senses

  • Social behaviour (grace and courtesy)

  • Spatial relationships

  • Music

  • Reading and Writing

  • Mathematics

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

Normalization Normalization is the process that occurs during the first six years of life (the first plane of development) that allows children to self-construct through their own purposeful activity, which the Montessori calls “work.” Through self-directed activity that engages the child’s innate capabilities and tendencies, effort, repetition and concentration, the process of normalization aids the child to develop his or her fullest potential. A normalized child is one that is self-confident, self-disciplined, passionate, responsible, empathetic, has a general sense of happiness and makes meaningful contribution to their community.

 

When the child in the first plane of development achieves normalization, they can become fully engaged in a conscious adaptation to their social culture and to the broader world in the second plane of development (6 to 12 years old). The result is joyful, enthusiastic, inquisitive explorers with life-long love fore learning.

Concrete to Abstract In primary years, lessons are taught in a simple and concrete manner. The progression through the Montessori curriculum is a continuous path toward abstraction. The same lessons are reintroduced as the child grows and are taught with increasing complexity and abstraction.  For example, while the young child learns the basic concept of the decimal system with golden beads and number cards, the older child learns the concept of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division with the same materials. Eventually, after the child progress past several other materials, which are increasingly more abstract and complicated, they begin to work without these materials. This integrated approach powerfully reinforces learning and builds true understanding and interest in subject areas.

Intrinsic Motivation Inspiring intrinsic motivation in child is one goal of the Montessori method. The aim is to motivate the child from within, by working with his or her interest. Freedom is recognized as the foundation of intrinsic motivation and the child’s choices and learning pace is respected. The prepared environment and Montessori trained teacher play an important role in fostering intrinsic motivation by promoting the child’s freedom to choose from their interests and reinforcing the responsibility to follow through, as well as the pride experienced when the child has completed what they set out to accomplish.

 

The classroom is organized in such a way that the child is free to select their work and therefore learns what they are interested in, when they are interested in it, and at his or her own pace. This spontaneous activity encourages self-direction and self-reliance. Concentration develops if a child is self-motivated.

 

In a Montessori environment, rewards and punishments are not used. Children innately want to learn and do not need to be motivated by external forces.

 

Character EducationAt the Ladybird Montessori Learning Academy, children learn to take care of themselves, their environment as well as fellow peers and teachers. We begin by educating children with practical life exercises such as personal hygiene, grace and courtesy, putting things back where they belong, hanging coats or backs on hooks and so forth. The teachers demonstrate a respectful and appropriate way to interact with the community and then invite the children to role-play with each other. Children learn very early the importance of listening, speaking politely, being considerate and helpful and contributing to their community.

 

Freedom and discipline in the environment foster moral traits of respect, independence, responsibility, and self-initiative. These character traits are nurtured from a child’s youngest years; as the child interacts socially, the character traits of friendliness, helpfulness, and sharing are cultivated.

 

As children progress to the elementary levels and the social dynamics become larger and more complex in scope, continued role-play, regular classroom meetings, and discussions play a key role in the development of character. Morals and virtues are defined, discussed, and practiced throughout the school year and true stories of heroes and role models through history are shared.

 

The freedom and responsibility children have in Montessori environments create real life opportunities for moral action. The acts of volition and intention create a foundation for self-discipline. At any level of the programs, differences may arise at any time, providing opportunities to use social skills for understanding one’s self and others.