Who was Maria Montessori?
The Montessori method is an approach to educating children based on the research and experiences of Italian physician and educator, Maria Montessori (1870-1952). Montessori education was founded in 1907, after she became the first woman physician in Italy. She based her methods on scientific observation of children’s learning processes.
What is the Montessori philosophy?
Montessori emphasizes learning through all five senses, not just listening, watching or reading. Children in a Montessori environment move at their own pace, as opposed to the traditional group pace. Children choose beautiful, concrete lessons according to their own abilities and interest under the guidance of the teacher. Learning is an exciting process of discovery, leading to concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning.
Glossary of Montessori Terms:
ABSORBENT MIND: Dr. Montessori believed that from birth to six years of age is the time of the absorbent mind, when a child’s mind is like a sponge soaking up information.
CONTROL OF ERROR: Dr. Montessori found that if given the opportunity, children would learn quickly to correct themselves, rather than to depend on adults to correct them. According to the philosophy, making mistakes is a normal and important part of the child’s learning, and developing self-correction, or control of error, helps children develop confidence in their decision making skills. Children develop this control best when they have many opportunities for repetition and practice, leading to mastery, success and a high self-esteem.
NORMALIZATION: This is the goal for every Montessori environment. A normalized classroom will contain several children working independently and high levels of concentration. When observing such an environment, children are happy and content with their lessons, as they work with purpose.
PRACTICAL LIFE: Practical life lessons offer the child the ability to develop care of self care of environment, grace, courtesy and manners. The Practical Life environment has many indirect aims, which the child absorbs through the repetition of lessons, such as: the dressing frames, pouring, scooping, tweezing, tonging, sorting… to name a few. It is through the lessons in Practical Life that a child will gain the following necessary skills: concentration, coordination, refinement of motor skills, development of three-finger grip (to hold a pencil),order, control, left to right and top to bottom progression (trains eye movements for reading) and respect for self, others and the environment. Practical Life lessons lay the foundation for all other areas in the classroom.
PREPARED ENVIRONMENT: Dr. Montessori observed that children develop confidence and learn best in a calm, beautiful, ordered environment where everything is chosen for its ability to engage a child’s interest and help her/him to develop. All equipment, furniture and lessons are designed to meet the individual child’s needs, foster independence and a love of learning.
SENSITIVE PERIODS: Dr. Montessori observed during certain times in the child’s cognitive and physical development, the child would learn more quickly and easily than at any other time if given the guidance and opportunity. The term used to describe these special periods is known as “sensitive periods.” Other terms used today to describe such a time are known as “critical periods,” or “windows of opportunity.”
“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.” Dr. Maria Montessori
Has there been any research conducted on Montessori students and performance?
Research by Angeline Lillard shows Montessori children when compared with traditionally educated children do better in later schooling in the following:
- Montessori students performed better on standardized tests for reading and math
- Montessori students engaged in more positive interaction on the playground and were less likely to exhibit ‘rough play’
- Showed advanced social cognition
- Demonstrated more executive control
- Had more concern for fairness and justice
- Wrote more creative essays
- Selected more positive responses to social dilemmas
- Reported feeling a greater sense of community
“And so we discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops in the human being.” Dr. Maria Montessori
What qualities will my child gain from being in a Montessori environment?
- Gain independence
- Think for themselves and ‘outside the box’
- Ability to concentrate
- Social interactions with younger and older children
- Time management skills
- Problem solving skills
- Respect for self, others and environment
- Leadership skills
Eissler, Trevor Montessori Madness
Lillard, Paula Polk Montessori-A Modern Approach
Lillard, Angeline Stoll Montessori-The Science Behind The Genius
Montessori, Maria The Absorbent Mind
The Secret of Childhood
-Schmidt, Maren Understanding Montessori
Wolf, Aline A. A Parent’s Guide to the Montessori Classroom