About Montessori Methods
Here you can find some answers to your doubts about Montessori methods and the benefits.
Montessori is a philosophy and method of education which emphasizes the potential of the young child and which develops this potential by utilizing specially trained teachers and special teaching materials. Montessori recognizes in children a natural curiosity and desire to learn; the Montessori materials awaken this desire and channel that curiosity into a learning experience which children enjoy. Montessori materials help children to understand what they learn by associating an abstract concept with a concrete sensorial experience; in this manner, the Montessori child is actually learning and not just memorizing.
The Montessori method stresses that children learn and progress at their own pace so that fast learners are not held back, and slow learners are not frustrated by their inability to keep up.
The Montessori classroom offers 500 unique educational didactic (self-teaching) materials which are manipulated by the children in the classroom. They accommodate many levels of ability. They accommodate many levels of ability. They are not “teaching aids” in the traditional sense, because their goal is not the external one of teaching children skills or imparting knowledge through “correct usage.” Rather, the goal is an internal one of aiding the child’s mental development and self-construction.
They aid this growth by providing stimuli that captures the child’s attention and initiates a process of concentration. Children then use the apparatus to develop co-ordination, attention to details, and good work habits.
When the environment offers materials that polarize children, the teacher is then able to give the freedom needed for healthy development.
Montessori allows children to experience the excitement of learning by their own choice. Dr. Montessori observed that it was easier for a child to learn a particular skill during the corresponding “sensitive period” than at any other time in life. These are periods of intense fascination for learning a particular skill.
Montessori allows children the freedom to select individual activities which correspond to their own periods of interest and readiness and to progress at their own pace. A child who acquires the basic skills of reading and arithmetic in this natural way has the advantage of beginning education without drudgery, boredom, or discouragement.
A multi-faceted approach to reading and spelling, which includes phonetic and sight word approach plus color-coding of materials, enables children to move at their own pace. Command boxes and movable grammar materials excite the children’s interest and help them accomplish more difficult tasks.
Montessori’s concrete approach to mathematics allows a clear and simplified understanding of our number system. The materials isolate the difficulty and a control of error exists within the apparatus. Thus, the child is able to perform the work with minimum interference from the adult and therefore receives the ultimate satisfaction of self-accomplishment.
The Importance of the Early Years
Dr. Montessori, one of the most important educators of our time, emphasized the need for early education.
She wrote: “The most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to age six.
For that is the time when man’s intelligence itself, his greatest implement, is being formed. But not only his intelligence; the full totality of his psychic powers…at no other age has the child greater need of an intelligent help, and any obstacle that impedes his creative work will lessen the chance he has of achieving perfection.”
Phases of Growth
Dr. Montessori discovered, and recent educational research has verified, successive phases of growth in children, each with characteristic sensitivities which guide physical and mental development. She called these phases of growth “sensitive periods.” They are outwardly recognizable by an intense interest which the child shows for certain sensorial and abstract experiences. Dr. Montessori discovered that the guiding sensitivities constitute needs in the child which demand fulfillment and are universal to all children.
The Real Needs of the Child
Montessori attitudes and philosophy are most consistent with the needs of a child in the process of developing and learning. Montessori’s educational theories are based on scientific observations of the way a child develops naturally and are then applied in an educational system consistent with the principles of natural learning.
Dr. Montessori believed that no human being is educated by another person. People teach themselves. A truly educated individual continues learning long after the hours and years spent in a classroom because he or she is motivated from within by a natural curiosity and love for knowledge. She felt therefore, that the goal of early education should not be to fill children with facts from a pre-selected course of studies, but rather to cultivate their own natural desire to learn.
Her experiments made the child the center of education; her program is adapted to the interests and needs of children. As a result, children concentrate with enthusiasm and achieve a real and profound understanding of their work. This intellectual progress is accompanied by emotional growth. The children become harmonious in movement, independent in work, and honest and helpful with one another.
Why choose Montessori
Experience tells us that “creating” cannot be taught and that the child’s environment tends to either foster or restrict creative potential. To foster creativity, Montessori realized that the environment must itself be beautiful, harmonious, and based on reality in order for children to organize their perceptions of it. Then they are capable of selecting and emphasizing those processes necessary for creative endeavors. Children, therefore, need freedom to develop creativity—freedom to select what attracts them in their environment, to relate to it without interruption and for as long as they like, to discover solutions and ideas and select answers on their own, and to communicate and share their discoveries with others at will. Creativity is involved with the intellectual as well as the aesthetic processes of the mind. Children in the Montessori classroom are free from judgment by an outside authority that so inhibits the creative impulse.
Montessori is based on a profound respect for each child’s personality. Children work from their own free choice and are allowed a large measure of independence which forms the basis of self-discipline.
As children progress at their own pace and successfully complete the self-correcting exercises, they develop confidence in their ability to understand their achievement.
Montessori presents endless opportunities among the children for mutual help, which is joyfully given and joyfully received. Co–operative social interaction among children of different ages engenders feelings of friendship, respect for the rights of others, and self-confidence.
These aspects of the Montessori program help eliminate the necessity for coercion, which often causes feelings of inferiority and stress.
The Montessori environment includes a fine balance between structure and freedom. The concept of freedom carrying responsibility is gradually introduced from the time a child enters school. The Montessori children have a wide variety of constructive paths to choose. They gain the skills and tools to accomplish their choices and they are taught the social values that enable them to make enlightened choices. Undisciplined and unskilled children are not free, but rather are slaves to their immediate desires. Allowing this behavior to proliferate merely forms a habit that is later hard to change. Children do not benefit from destructive behavior and they become unhappy. Freedom does not involve only being able to do what you want to do. It does involve being able to distinguish what is constructive and beneficial and then being able to carry it out.
Since the children are treated individually, not collectively, in an ungraded approach, stimulation and interest are sought out at their own individual levels and not in accordance with the group.
Dr. Montessori maintained that, “education is an aid to life.”
Hence, there is no period in the child’s life that cannot benefit from the Montessori approach to education.
The habits and skills which a child develops in a Montessori class last a lifetime. Since Montessori education is successful in developing concentration, self-discipline, a love of learning and social skills…the child is better equipped to enter new situations and to easily adjust to the traditional school environment. Good habits, that are acquired early in a child’s life, result in a lifelong pursuit of knowledge.
Work periods usually last about two hours in the morning for all children, with another two hours in the afternoon for those older students who stay a full day. During these times, you are likely to see children intent upon learning their alphabet using sandpaper letters, or exploring other countries and cultures using the Montessori Puzzle maps. One may be studying basic math concept using beads strung together in groups of five, ten, etc., while another student is painting or making a collage. This is a busy time for the children, and that serious look you see is a focused look. These children are choosing to do whatever it is they are doing. They have many options, and are empowered to do what interests them most.