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Montessori

MONTESSORI GUIDING PRINCIPLES

Montessori Guiding Principles

The guiding principles of Montessori education are the same across all age levels, and are grounded in over one hundred years of work with children around the world.

Respect: Maria Montessori profoundly respected children and the developmental powers that drive them to seek certain experiences. Montessori education reframes the adult/child relationship to place the child at the center of his own learning. In Montessori classrooms, teachers respect children as separate and unique individuals. They guide children to respect the people and objects in their environment, and as the child grows older, to respect and understand the connectedness between all living and non-living things, leading to the adolescent’s profound awareness of the complex web of human existence.

 

Prepared Environment: Children’s needs change as they move through stages of development. At each level of Montessori education, this difference is honored through the preparation of the classroom environment. The environment is prepared in every way for optimal development: physically, cognitively, socially and emotionally. By aligning the activities in the environment with what each child needs at any moment, Montessori prepared environments liberate children’s energy for growth and learning.

Hands-on Learning: Montessori classrooms are interactive environments in which hands-on exploration is not only encouraged, it is necessary. By using the mind, the body, and the senses, learning becomes an activity that engages the whole self. Any parent will agree that children do; Montessori environments follow this natural inclination of children towards activity by offering an appropriate variety of objects and activities for meaningful engagement.

Discovery: One of the most profound differences between Montessori education and conventional education is that, in Montessori, children are given the experience of discovering the answer for themselves. This leads to a much deeper learning experience, and creates a lifelong love of learning as a self-directed process of problem-solving and discovery.

Imagination: Montessori classrooms support the development of imagination and creativity at every stage of learning. The open-ended activities allow children to explore new ideas and relationships, providing a foundation for self-expression and innovation. In the early years, the building blocks of imagination are firmly established through sensory exploration of the world, launching both imagination and creative self-expression.

Freedom of Choice: Our children are not pointed to a Car area, Doll area etc. Maria Montessori recognized that when allowed freedom of choice within clear, firm and reasonable boundaries, children act in positive ways that further their development. Freedom is frequently misunderstood, and many people take it to mean that children can do whatever they want. Montessori believed that freedom without boundaries was abandonment. In Montessori classrooms, expectations are clear, and children experience the natural and logical consequences of their choices. This freedom within limits allows for the natural development of self-regulation within the society of the classroom, as well as mirroring behaviors expected by society in general.

Independence: From the moment of birth onwards, humans strive towards independence. Children feel this need very strongly; they want to do things for themselves, and to participate in the world around them. In Montessori classrooms, this natural drive towards independence is fostered through practical, social and intellectual experiences. The child becomes an active agent in her own education, saying, “Help me to do it myself”. We honor this by helping children move to increasingly higher levels of independence and self-reliance.

Montessori Education: Focusing on
Initiative and Natural Abilities

The Montessori method of education has a core emphasis on each child’s own initiative and natural abilities, nurturing both through practical play. The learning environment is carefully crafted to support children in developing at their own pace. Learning activities encourage the use of exploration, repetition, manipulations, order, communication, and abstraction. The youngest children are encouraged to focus on using their senses to learn. Older children are steered more towards abstract concepts that encourage the use of reasoning, imagination, and creativity.

Montessori Daycare in Aruba: Carrying Forward
the Legacy of Maria Montessori

Dr. Maria Montessori was a prominent thinker of her time. Nominated for three Nobel Peace Prizes, her supporters included Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Helen Keller and Mahatma Gandhi.

Born on August 31, 1870, in Chiaravalle, Ancona, Maria Montessori broke from the traditional role of women almost right from the start.  At the age of 13, she attended an all-boys academy focusing her studies on mathematics and science.  Later, she became the first female doctor in Italy. Her career took an unexpected turn when she started working with disabled children. She devised a new method of education when she saw that the methods of the time were not serving the needs of those children.

Her approach to teaching disabled children was completely new. Instead of the traditional methods that included reading and reciting, she taught the children by using concrete materials. She determined that learning was not memorizing but sensing and experiencing. The disabled children scored higher than average children on the same test and she wondered, “Why can’t all children benefit from the same method?”

In 1907 Maria accepted a new challenge to open a childcare center in a poor inner-city district. This became the first ‘Casa dei Bambini’, a quality learning environment for young children. The youngsters were unruly at first, but soon showed great interest in working with puzzles, learning to prepare meals, and manipulating materials that held lessons in math. She observed how they absorbed knowledge from their surroundings, essentially teaching themselves.

Utilizing scientific observation and experience gained from her earlier work with young children, Maria designed learning materials and a classroom environment that fostered the children’s natural desire to learn. News of the school’s success soon spread through Italy and by 1910 Montessori schools were acclaimed worldwide.

In the years following, and for the rest of her life, Maria dedicated herself to advancing her child-centered approach to education. She lectured widely, wrote articles and books, and developed a program to prepare teachers in the Montessori Method. Through her efforts and the work of her followers, Montessori education was adopted worldwide.

Montessori Materials

Montessori learning materials are unique in the following ways:

  • Control of error: Materials are sensory-based and fashioned to isolate one concept or skill for hands-on learning, independent problem-solving and analytical thinking. When using these materials, it’s immediately clear to a child if something is wrong or out of place, allowing them to quickly self-correct, leading to better problem-solving, resilience and concentration.
  • Purposeful activities using movement and exploration: There’s not sitting stationary all day behind a desk in a Montessori learning environment. The activities keep children up and moving around, and the learning taking places during such activities is more easily retained because the whole body is involved in learning it.
  • Materials isolate one concept or skill: Trying to teach too many skills or concepts at the same time overwhelms children, so Montessori materials tend to hone in on just one primary skill or concept.
  • Develop fine motor skills: Fine motor skill development is critical in a child’s education and must be put into balance with gross motor skills for a well-rounded result.
  • Beautiful and engaging: Montessori materials are beautiful in a way that seems to call out to the children to come and engage them.
  • Hands-on experiential learning: Experiential learning is always good because what the hand does the mind remembers. Montessori materials and activities engage the mind, the heart and the hands. There is no passive reception of information. Everything is active.
  • Simplify abstract concepts: Even abstract concepts are simplified enough to be learned through hands-on activities. Beads for mathematics makes the abstract idea of subtraction very concrete as the child takes a certain number of them away.
  • Progression order: There is a logic to how things are presented or displayed in a Montessori learning environment – easiest to hardest and left to right (which helps with reading). This helps children organize their thinking, follow a logical progression, and go at their own pace.