What is Montessori
“Education should no longer be mostly imparting of knowledge, but must take a new path, seeking the release of human potentialities.”
– Dr. Maria Montessori
Dr. Maria Montessori, physician, anthropologist and pedagogue, studied children of all racial, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds for over fifty years. Her intense scientific observation of the human being from birth to maturity allowed her to distill a body of philosophical, psychological and pedagogical principles. These, together with a vast range of auto-didactic materials, came to be known as the Montessori Method of Education.
Montessori pedagogy is a comprehensive and continuous response to the vital needs of the total human being, adapted to each stage of development. Children’s natural tendencies provide the basis for the application of the Montessori method
Key aspects of the Montessori Approach include the Prepared Environment and the role of the Montessori Teacher.
Montessori environments are offered from birth to adulthood:
Assistants to Infancy-Toddler (ages 0 – 2.5 or 3)
Children’s House (ages 2.5-6) [read about our Children’s House program…]
Middle School (ages 12+) [read about our St. Francis Academy for 7th & 8th grades…]
Montessori classrooms provide a prepared environment where children are free to respond to their natural tendency to work.
The prepared environment offers the essential elements for optimal development. The key components comprise the children, teacher and physical surroundings including the specifically designed Montessori educational material.
Characteristics of the prepared environment include:
- Beauty, order, reality, simplicity and accessibility.
- Children must be given freedom to work and move around within suitable guidelines that enable them to act as part of a social group.
- Children should be provided with specifically designed materials which help them to explore their world and enable them to develop essential cognitive skills.
- Mixed age groups (eg. three to six, six to nine, nine to twelve) encourage all children to develop their personalities socially and intellectually at their own pace.
“Beyond the more obvious reasons why it is sensible to group the ages three by three, such as the little ones learn from the older children and the older ones learn by teaching the younger, every child can work at his own pace and rhythm, eliminating the bane of competition, there is the matter of order and discipline easily maintained even in very large classes with only one adult in charge. This is due to the sophisticated balance between liberty and discipline prevalent in Montessori classrooms, established at the very inception of a class. Children who have acquired the fine art of working freely in a structured environment, joyfully assume responsibility for upholding this structure, contributing to the cohesion of their social unit.”
There are prepared environments for children at each successive developmental plane. These environments allow children to take responsibility for their own education, giving them the opportunity to become human beings able to function independently and hence interdependently.
Montessori Teacher / Guide
The role of a Montessori teacher or guide is that of an observer whose ultimate goal is to intervene less and less as the child develops. The teacher creates an atmosphere of calm, order and joy in the classroom and is there to help and encourage the children in all their efforts, allowing them to develop self-confidence and inner discipline.
With the younger students at each level, the teacher is more active, demonstrating the use of materials and presenting activities based on an assessment of the child’s requirements. Knowing how to observe constructively and when, and how much, to intervene, is one of the most important talents the Montessori teacher acquires during a rigorous course of training at AMI training centers throughout the world.