The Montessori method of teaching aims for the fullest possible development of the whole child, ultimately preparing him for life’s many rich experiences. Complemented by her training in medicine, psychology and anthropology, Dr. Maria Montessori (1870 – 1952) developed her philosophy of education based upon actual observations of children. Children pass through sensitive periods of development early in life. Dr. Montessori described the child’s mind between the time of birth and six years of age as the “absorbent mind”. It is during this stage that a child has a tremendous ability to learn and assimilate from the world around him, without conscious effort. During this time, children are particularly receptive to certain external stimuli. A Montessori teacher recognizes and takes advantage of these highly perceptive stages through the introduction of materials and activities which are specially designed to stimulate the intellect.
Encouraged to focus her attention on one particular quality, the child works at her own optimum level – in an environment where beauty and orderliness are emphasized and appreciated. A spontaneous love of “work” is revealed as the child is given the freedom (within boundaries) to make her own choices.
Montessori teachers are trained facilitators in the classroom, always ready to assist and direct. Their purpose is to stimulate the child’s enthusiasm for learning and to guide it, without interfering with the child’s natural desire to teach himself and become independent. Each child works through his individual cycle of activities, and learns to truly understand according to his own unique needs and capabilities.
Everything in a Montessori classroom has a specific use or purpose. There is nothing in the prepared environment that the child cannot see or touch. All of the furniture and equipment is scaled down to the child’s size and is within easy reach.
A quality Montessori classroom has a busy, productive atmosphere where joy and respect abound. Within such an enriched environment, freedom, responsibility, and social and intellectual development spontaneously flourish!