The Montessori way of teaching is a comprehensive method of education from birth to adulthood based on the observation of children's needs. It was developed by the 1st female doctor in Italy, Dr Maria Montessori. This method of education has been practiced worldwide for over 100 years.
This system of education is both a philosophy of child development and a rationale for guiding such growth. It is based on two important developmental needs of children:
The need for freedom within limits A carefully prepared environment which guarantees exposure to materials and experiences.
Through these developmental needs, the child develops intelligence as well as physical and psychological abilities. The Montessori method of education is designed to take full advantage of the childrens desire to learn and their unique ability to develop their own capabilities. Children need adults to expose them to the possibilities of their lives, but the children must determine their response to all the possibilities.
The main premises of Montessori education are:
Children have a deep love and need for purposeful work. They work, however, not as an adult for the completion of a job, but the sake of an activity itself. It is this activity which enables them to accomplish their most important goal: the development of their individual selves – their mental, physical and psychological powers.
The main purpose of a Montessori school is to provide a carefully planned, stimulating environment which will help the child develop an excellent foundation for creative learning. The specific goals for the children who attend a Montessori school are presented below.
Developing a positive attitude toward school
Most of the learning activities are individualized: i.e., each child engages in a learning task that particularly appeals to him…because he finds the activities geared to his needs and level of readiness. Consequently, he works at his own rate, repeating the task as often as he likes, thus experiencing a series of successful achievement. In this manner, he build a positive attitude toward learning itself.
Helping each child develop self confidence
In the Montessori school, tasks are designed so that each new step is built upon what the child has already mastered, thus removing the negative experience of frequent failure. A carefully planned series of successes builds upon inner confidence in the child assuring him that he can learn by himself. These confidence building activities likewise contribute to the child's healthy emotional development.
Assisting each child in building a habit of concentration
Effective learning presupposes the ability to listen carefully and to attend to what is said or demonstrated. Through a series of absorbing experiences, the child forms habits of extended attention, thus increasing his ability to concentrate.
Fostering an abiding curiosity
In a rapidly changing society, we will all be students at some time in our lives. A deep, persistent and abiding curiosity is a prerequisite for creative learning. By providing the child with opportunities to discover qualities, dimensions and relationships amidst a rich variety of stimulating learning situations, curiosity is developed and an essential element in creative learning has been established.
Developing habits of initiative and persistence
By surrounding the child with appealing materials and learning activities geared to his inner needs, he becomes accustomed to engaging in activities on his own. Gradually, this results in a habit of initiative – an essential quality in leadership. “Ground rules” call for completing a task once begun and gradually results in a habit of persistence and perseverance for replacing materials after the task is accomplished. This “completion expectation” gradually results in a habit of persistence and perseverance.
Fostering inner security and sense of order in the child
Through a well ordered, enriched but simplified environment, the child's need for order and security is intensely satisfied. This is noticed in the calming effect the environment has on the child. Since every item in the Montessori classroom has a place and the ground rules call for everything in its place, the child's inner need for order is directly satisfied.