1. Where did Montessori come from?
Montessori (pronounced MON-tuh-SORE-ee) education was founded in 1907 by Dr. Maria Montessori, the first woman in Italy to become a physician. She based her educational methods on scientific observation of children's learning processes. Guided by her discovery that children teach themselves, Dr. Montessori designed a "prepared environment" in which children could freely choose from a number of developmentally appropriate activities. Now, nearly a century after Maria Montessori's first casa dei bambini ("children's house") in Rome, Montessori education is found all over the world, spanning ages from birth to adolescence.
Maria Montessori never set out to make a system of education. Rather, her methods of teaching evolved from her observations of the children in her care. She observed that the child absorbs from the environment she is in, and using specially designed materials she was able to call to the child's inner desire to learn. These materials are presented in small groups, frequently on the floor, encouraging individual hands-on participation, and peer problem-solving dialogue. The child is allowed certain freedoms to be independent within the highly sequenced structure of the Montessori Method. Control of error is built into manipulative materials and charts, encouraging self-confidence and independence.
Primarily, the purpose of the Montessori method is to provide an environment where the innate abilities of the child can unfold spontaneously, encouraging the development of the person within, allowing the child to achieve his greatest potential. Maria Montessori stated, "the child is the father of the man." As the child develops his inner self, a love of life and learning follows naturally.
Montessori is a method or an approach developed by Maria Montessori. This philosophy is now being applied through all the ages of human development. The Montessori serves for ages Primary (ages 2+ to 6years), Elementary (6+ to 12 years), Erdkinder/Adolescence (12= to 16years).
Montessori was herself amazed at the abilities of young children two and three years old. In her environments she discovered that they were able to absorb concrete materials using all their senses simultaneously, a unique ability soon lost. She called these times of special absorption "Sensative Periods", and developed specific materials for that time. As the child grows these periods change, yet the continuum is set in motion for the rest of the child's life. Therefore, the early years are the most important, yet most neglected in many societies. Starting a child at 2 or 3 in a good Montessori environment with well-trained directresses can have results that will remain with the child all her life.
At the under age six level, Montessori emphasises learning through all five senses, not just through listening, watching, or reading. Children in Montessori classes learn at their own, individual pace and according to their own choice of activities from hundreds of possibilities. The are not required to sit and listen to a teacher talk to them as a group, but are engaged in individual or group activities of their own, with materials that have been introduced to them 1:1 by the teacher who knows what each child is ready to do. Learning is an exciting process of discovery, leading to concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning.
Above age 6 children learn to do independent research, arrange field trips to gather information, interview specialists, create group presentation, dramas, art exhibits, musical productions, science projects, and so forth. There is no limit to what they created in this kind of intelligently guided freedom. There no text books or adult-directed group lessons and daily schedule. There is great respect for the choices of the children, but they easily keep up with or surpass what they would be doing in a more traditional setting. There is no wasted time and children enjoy their work and study. The children ask each other for lessons and much of the learning comes from sharing and inspiring each other instead of competing with each other.
Montessori classes place children in three-year-or-more age groups (3-6, 2.5-6, 6-12, and so on), forming communities in which the older children spontaneously share their knowledge with the younger ones. Montessori represents an entirely different approach to education.
As with the choice of a Montessori school for children, an adult must also exercise wisdom in choosing a teacher training course. Anyone can legally use the name "Montessori" in describing their teacher training organisation. One must be sure the certification earned is recognized by the school where one desires to teach.
Basic subjects such as language, math, history, geography, biology, chemistry, geometry, music, physical education, and art are introduced in Montessori classes first in the 3-6 programs. Elementary students, by nature, want more answers to life's questions. The "how, where, what, when" questions are expanded into their environment and beyond. They want to classify, group, get control of their world. So the elementary curriculum developed by Maria, and later by her son and grandson, incorporate that explosion into knowledge from questions with materials that name, classify, and redefine the natural world in which the child has joined. Montessori thought less of her method of teaching as having a curriculum, as following the questions of the child to create individual and group lessons based on where the child is and where the group of children might go. That is not to say that her method is without curriculum, nor that the child does what she wants. Montessori directresses are arduously trained in methodically sequenced lessons, frequently broken into many passages for children who need that degree of gradual movement from concrete to abstract presentation. These sequences in each subject matter make up, but do not necessarily define, the curriculum. Each new group of students dictates which lessons will be given according to the needs of those individual and collective children.
Because Montessori schools are operated independently of one another tuition varies widely. The tuition is usually tied to the salaries of the staff, the size of the school, the state regulations for ration of staff to children, the cost of living, many other factors. The tuition for a Montessori school is figures on costs to run the school, and are no different than any other private school
Yes, you can use Montessori principles of child development at home. Look at your home through your child's eyes. Children need a sense of belonging, and they get it by participating fully in the routines of everyday life. "Help me do it by myself" is the life theme of the preschooler, school age child, teenager, and young adult.
Can you find ways for your child to participate in meal preparation, cleaning, gardening, caring for clothes, shoes, and toys? Providing opportunities for independence is the surest way to build your child's self-esteem and to build the skills needed for life-long learning.
At the school level many homeschooling and other parents use the Montessori philosophy of following the child's interest and not interrupting concentration to educate their children. There is an interesting Montessori homeschooling store here: homeschooling
In school only a trained Montessori teacher can properly implement Montessori education with the specialized learning equipment taught during teacher training, but there are many ideas that can be used in the home with families whose children are in school full-time, or in families where the adults are in charge of the totality of the child's education.
Some Montessori schools do not allow older students to enter their classes. Most give priority to transferring students from their own or other Montessori schools. Adjustment into Montessori classes depends upon the child, his prior educational experience, innate flexibility, and attitudes toward learning and school. They frequently enter with heightened enthusiasm for the "games" encountered. As they adjust to the more subtle structure of the classroom and their own responsibility for their learning, they usually go through a period of trying the limits. It is not unusual for students entering from more traditional education to want to do everything in the room the first week. The idea of touching, handling, and talking as they work tends to, at first, be overstimulating for some, while intimidating for others. It usually takes 6 weeks to 6 months for students to integrate into the classroom. Once adjusted, however, students who have experienced another form of education can positively engage their peers in introspective observations.
Research studies show that Montessori children are well prepared for later life academically, socially, and emotionally. In addition to scoring well on standardized tests, Montessori children are ranked above average on such criteria as following directions, turning in work on time, listening attentively, using basic skills, showing responsibility, asking provocative questions, showing enthusiasm for learning, and adapting to new situations.
This is the most frequently asked question of most people seeking information regarding Montessori learning. Changing from one environment to another takes self-confidence and patience. Different children respond differently to change. Most children adjust well to the transfer from Montessori to other private or public schools when their self esteems are high. Statistically, those who are in Montessori classrooms longest tend to make the adjustment more smoothly. They usually enter their new environments with a positive, flexible confidence following their experience with, and nurturing of, a real love of learning.