The founder of the Montessori Method was Italian pedagogue, doctor and scientist Maria Montessori (1870 – 1952 years). She created and original system of nurturing and educating of the children that become popular and spreading throughout the whole world, and is still considered to be one of the best educational systems for preschool age children today.
The Montessori Method is different from other educational methods.
Built upon the rational balance between the freedom and well-defined structure created exclusively for small children, this method places the children in an exciting and stimulating environment where all activities are thoroughly developed to ideally suit their needs. Use of the Montessori Method provides qualified teachers control of your child’s work.
The Montessori system provides your child with a concrete foundation to create his/her own unique personality – a personality that is well developed, responsible, happy and educated.
The Montessori Method encourages knowledge through activity, providing an effortless learning environment.
Your child can choose the work that is attractive to him and well suits his interests. He can exercise his feelings freely and spontaneously, while feeling happy and passionate about his work, because he is doing something he wants, not something he was forced to do.
Through honing his skills the child gradually acquires the ability to be independent and build confidence. The Montessori Method fosters a child’s natural love for education and gradually establishes motivation towards future goals.
This assists the child in developing naturally and does not force him into something he is not ready for.
What is the Montessori Method?
The Montessori Method sees children as they really are and creates an environment which fosters the fulfillment of their highest potential – spiritually, emotionally, physically, and intellectually – as members of a family, a school, and the world community.
The Montessori environment contains specially designed materials that invite children to engage in learning activities of their own individual choice. Under the guidance of a trained Montessori teacher, children in a Montessori classroom learn by making discoveries within the materials, in turn cultivating concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning.
In a Montessori’s classroom, learning materials are arranged invitingly on low, open shelves. Children may choose whatever materials they would like to use and may work for as long as the material holds their interest. When they are finished with each material, they return it to the shelf from which it came.
Montessori classroom materials
The Montessori materials themselves invite activity. There are bright arrays of solid geometric forms, knobbed puzzle maps, colored beads, and various specialized rods and blocks.
Each material in a Montessori classroom focuses on a specific quality. For example, the material known as the pink tower is made up of ten pink cubes of varying sizes. The preschool-aged child constructs a tower with the largest cube on the bottom and the smallest on top. This material isolates the concept of size. The cubes are all the same color and texture; the only difference is their size. Other materials spotlight different concepts: color tablets for color, geometry materials for form, and so on.
Moreover, the materials are self-correcting. When a piece does not fit or is left over, the child can easily perceive the error. There is no need for adult “correction.” The child is able to solve problems independently, building self-confidence, analytic thinking, and the satisfaction that comes from accomplishment.
As the child’s exploration continues, the materials interrelate and build upon each other. For example, various relationships can be explored between the pink tower and the broad stair, which are based on matching dimensions. Later, in the elementary years, new aspects of some of the materials unfold. When studying volume, for instance, the child may return to the pink tower and discover that the cubes progress incrementally from one cubic centimeter to one cubic decimeter.
Montessori Preschool Curriculum
The Montessori preschool classroom for ages 2 through 6 is a “living room” for children. Children choose their work from the self-correcting materials displayed on open shelves, and they work in specific work areas. Over a period of time, the children form a “normalized community,” working with high concentration and few interruptions. Normalization is the process whereby a child moves from being undisciplined to self-disciplined, from disordered to ordered, from distracted to focused, through work in the environment. The process occurs though repeated work with materials that captivate the child’s attention. For some children this inner change may take place quite suddenly, leading to deep concentration.
In the Montessori preschool, academic competency is a means to an end, and the manipulatives are viewed as “materials for development.”
In the Montessori preschool environment, five distinct areas constitute the prepared environment:
Practical Life enhances the development of task organization and cognitive order through care of self and environment, exercises of grace and courtesy, and the coordination of physical movement.
Sensorial area enables the child to order, classify, and describe sensory impressions in relation to length, width, temperature, mass, color, pitch, etc.
Mathematics makes use of manipulative materials to enable the child to internalize concepts of number, symbol, sequence, operations, and memorization of basic facts.
Language Arts includes oral language development, written expression, reading, grammar, creative dramatics, and children’s literature. Basic skills in writing and reading are developed through the use of sandpaper letters, alphabet cut-outs, and various presentations allowing children to link sounds and letter symbols effortlessly and to express their thoughts through writing.
Cultural Activities expose the child to basics in geography, history, and life sciences. Music, art, and movement education are part of the integrated cultural curriculum.