Montessori is an educational philosophy and practice that fosters rigorous, self-motivated growth for children and adolescents in all areas of their development, with a goal of nurturing each child’s natural desire for knowledge, understanding, and respect.
It was introduced by a young lady named Maria Montessori. Maria Montessori was an Italian physician, educator, and innovator, acclaimed for her educational method that builds on the way children learn naturally. She opened the first Montessori school—the Casa Dei Bambini, or Children’s House—in Rome on January 6, 1907.
The Montessori Method of Education, developed by Maria Montessori, is a child-centred educational approach based on scientific observations of children. Montessori’s method has been used for over 100 years in many parts of the world.
Essential the Montessori Method, is the Montessori Curriculum, which is a child-centered learning framework that incorporates holistic learning outcomes tailored to each individual child’s developmental needs and interests. Montessori schools promote hands-on, self-paced, collaborative, and joyful learning by providing an environment that supports natural development, Montessori education enables children to develop the fundamental capacities that they need to become happy and fulfilled adults who contribute to society.
Montessori’s aim was to nurture each individual child so that she or he could reach her or his potential as a human being. She believed that this was made possible by providing a favorable environment which would nurture self-development under the guidance of sensitive and empathetic adults (MCI 2010). To achieve this aim, she instinctively recognized that movement and manipulation are the keys to learning in the early years and therefore that the young adult must be given opportunities to be ‘active learners’ (DFE 2017).
This discovery translated into encouraging children to help look after the classroom and its environs, and to the development of materials for educating the senses. To this day, these two areas are the bedrock of all learning in Montessori nurseries.
The Montessori Method of education is based on Doctor Maria Montessori’s (1870-1952) scientific observation’s about how children learn as they progress from birth to adulthood. Montessori discovered that children avidly absorb information from their surroundings, and that if these surroundings provide opportunities for learning, that children would readily teach themselves. Over more than 50 years, Montessori perfected the teaching principles, key learnings, and educational materials that provided children with the optimal learning environment.
Benefits of Montessori Education
- Respect for the child: The unique developmental needs and interests of each child are respected. Children are not compared based on merit, they are valued for their individuality. Montessori education embraces multiple styles and pathways to learning and understands that each child’s early learning journey is different.
- Sensitive Period: Children pass through specific stages in their development when they are most able to learn specific skills. In Montessori education, these are called ‘sensitive periods‘. The Montessori learning environment supports these periods by proving children with hands-on learning experiences that encourage repetition and problem solving to maximize learning during these windows of opportunity.
- The Absorbent Mind: The first six years of life are crucial in a child’s development as they establish an understanding of themselves and their world. The Montessori environment supports children in this task by providing them with learning experiences that promote their sense of belonging, confidence, independence and agency.
- Teaching Roles: The Children are the centre of the Montessori classroom. The role of the teacher is to observe and guide, being mindful of children’s changing interests, developmental needs, and emotions. Teachers plan daily lessons for each child.
- Montessori Materials: Montessori materials are sensory-based learning tools that are designed to isolate one skill or concept. The materials encourage hands-on learning, independent problem solving, and analytical thinking. Especially unique, is that each Montessori material is designed with a visual control of error.
- Prepared Environment: The Montessori classroom is a prepared environment designed to optimize learning. Characteristics include: low open shelves, left to right display of Montessori materials in progression order, defined curriculum areas, child-sized furniture, freedom of movement, and freedom of choice.
- Three Hour Work Cycle: The young adults are engaged in a three-hour work cycle every day. This period of individual learning provides children with the opportunity to choose their work and progress at their own pace.
- Five Curriculum Areas: The is divided into five key areas of learning: Practical Life, Censorial, Mathematics, Language and Culture. Each curriculum area has a dedicated space in the prepared environment
- Normalization: This describes the process where young adult comes to focus and concentrate on a task for a sustained period of time. This period of development is characterized by love of work, concentration, self-discipline and sociability.
- Multi-age grouping: Although Montessori schools are divided into multi-age classrooms— infant and toddlers (ages 0 to 3), preschool (ages 3 to 6), lower and upper elementary (ages 6 to 9 and 9 to 12 respectively), and middle school (ages 12 to 14). The prepared environment introduces an uninterrupted series of learning passages, a continuum.