What’s Montessori all about?
Born in Ancona, Italy in 1870, Maria Montessori became the first woman to graduate as a doctor from the University of Rome. She studied paediatrics, psychiatry, psychology and specialized in the intellectual and cognitive development of children. Her progressive view of children was very much ahead of her time and her educational philosophy is still relevant to date. In fact, modern scientific research confirms her observations. She believed that children are born with a personality (an intrinsic nature) that would gradually unfold. However, the key in helping a child’s personality and intellect reach its full potential was through provision of an enriched, nurturing environment.
Young children have a great desire to be capable and to contribute to their community. By preparing the environment with many child-sized, developmentally appropriate activities, and through observation, the adult gains a clear understanding of each child’s specific needs. The guide introduces the lessons that will benefit the child’s development. Then, the child is given the freedom to act independently within the prepared environment, by using any of the materials that have been introduced.
Freedom and responsibility
Freedom within limits allows the young child to develop inner discipline gradually. The guide prepares the environment in ways that encourage each child to freely express their inner needs for development, and their personality. The guide also models – through actions and language – how to make responsible decisions. As the child encounters the many choices and opportunities for self control that form their daily experience, joy, kindness and compassion naturally emerge between the children. This creates the foundation for honest and heartfelt relationships.
Develop concentration skills
Dr. Montessori discovered that an uninterrupted work cycle allows the child to fully experience the benefits of the programs. During a long, uninterrupted work cycle, each child has opportunities to choose interesting work, repeat as much as they desire, and clean up afterwards. Then they can take the time they need to process this activity and move on to the next. This happens several times during the work cycle, and each child moves at his or her own self-directed pace. For the younger children in the toddler community the work cycle lasts about 1.5 hours, and for the primary aged children it lasts 3 hours.
Want to learn more about the different developmental stages Maria Montessori identified over a century ago? Read this blogpost!
Maria Montessori’s method is most applied in early childhood education. However, the method can be applied throughout all stages of human development from birth to adulthood. In fact, it has been scientifically proven that the Montessori method is beneficial to seniors who suffer from dementia. Montessori really is for all ages!