What is Montessori

What is Montessori?
Maria Montessori (1870-1952)

Maria Montessori was the first woman to attend medical school and the first female Doctor of Medicine in Italy. Through her work with handicapped and socially deprived children, she developed her unique educational method, known as the Montessori method. As a result of her further study, observation, and experimentation, she found the principles of her method to be applicable to all children. She has had an impact on the field of education in general and the way we understand and teach children today.
What is the Montessori method?

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 that children have 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.
Why are Montessori children generally self-confident, out-going, and self reliant?

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 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.
What does Montessori offer my child?

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 with a genuine personal interest in learning.
What is the Montessori concept of freedom in the classroom?

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. 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.
Does the Montessori environment foster creativity?

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 endeavours. Montessori children are given 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.
What happens after Montessori?

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 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.
What is Montessori apparatus?

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 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.
Can a child without a pre-school background in Montessori benefit from an elementary program?

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.
Will this approach help a child with difficulties in reading, spelling and math?

A multi-faceted approach to reading and spelling, which includes phonetic and sight word approach plus colour-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 to 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 child has one intuitive aim: self development. He desperately wants to develop his resources, his ability to cope with a strange, complex world. He wants to do and see and learn for himself, through his senses and not through the eyes of an adult. The child who accomplishes this moves into harmony with his world he becomes a full person. He is educated.” (Maria Montessori)

Comox Valley School District 71
The Montessori Foundation: The International Montessori Council
Vancouver Island Montessori Association