WHAT IS MONTESSORI?
Dr. Maria Montessori (1870 - 1952) developed her philosophy of education based upon her observation of children and her training in psychology and medicine. Montessori recognized that the most important years for learning are those between birth and six. Children, she noted, absorbed effortlessly the impressions, information and ideas from their surroundings. She saw that at certain times young children had a special ability to focus on specific aspects of their environment. She referred to these as "sensitive periods". Montessori developed a classroom that allowed children to meet their needs through individual spontaneous activity.
Dr. Montessori believed that another person educates no human being. They must do it themselves or it will never be done. A truly educated individual continues learning long after the hours and years they spent in the classroom because a natural curiosity and a love for knowledge motivate children from within. Dr. Montessori felt, therefore, that the goal of early childhood education should not be to fill children with facts from a pre-selected course of study, but rather to cultivate the child's own natural desire to learn. She also believed that learning takes place in a carefully prepared, nurturing, and multi-aged classroom. In this prepared environment children at various stages of development learn from and help each other. Dr. Montessori's approach was designed to fit each child instead of making each child fit the program.
Respect for each child's individuality is at the core of her philosophy.
How does it work?
Each Montessori class, no matter what age, operates on the principle of freedom within limits. Every program has its set of ground rules, which differs from age to age, but is always based on Montessori's main belief - respect for each other and for the environment. Children are free to work at their own pace with the materials they have chosen, either alone or with others. This means that students who struggle with concepts are given the time to understand and complete further work in order to fully understand; students who grasp concepts quickly do not need to wait for their peers in order to academically move forward.
The Directress relies on her observations of the children to determine which new activities and materials she may introduce to an individual child or a small group without interfering with a child's independence.
Children are encouraged to share accomplishments, resolve problems and to develop an awareness of the other members within the classroom community. More experienced children share what they have learned while reinforcing their own learning. In this atmosphere of acceptance and respect is seen the development of responsible, self-directed and self-disciplined students with a love of learning.
What makes Montessori Education unique?
The "Whole Child Approach"
The primary goal of a Montessori program is to help each child reach their full potential in all areas of life. Activities promote the development of social skills, emotional growth and physical coordination as well as cognitive preparation.
The "Prepared Environment"
In order for self-directed learning to take place, the entire learning environment - room, materials and social climate - must be supportive of the learner. The classroom is carefully prepared to provide for the child's needs. Freedom within limits, as well as exposure to orderly and attractive materials present an environment truly prepared for childhood discovery.
The Montessori Materials
Dr. Montessori's observations of the kinds of toys which children enjoy and return to play with repeatedly led her to design a number of multi-sensory, sequential and self-correcting materials which facilitate the learning of skills and concepts. Montessori always emphasized that the hand is the chief teacher of the child. In order to learn there must be concentration and the best way a child can concentrate is by fixing their attention on some task they are performing with their hands. All the equipment in a Montessori classroom allows the child to reinforce their casual impressions by inviting them to use their hands for learning.
At What Ages?
Although the entrance age varies in individual schools, children can usually enter a Montessori classroom between the ages of two and a half and four years of age, depending on when the child can be happy and comfortable in a classroom environment. It is beneficial for the child to begin at an early age in order to benefit from the program. They will begin with the simplest exercise based on activities which all children enjoy. The materials which they use at three and four will help them to develop the concentration, coordination and working habits necessary for the more advanced exercises they will perform at five and six. The entire program of learning is purposefully structured. Therefore, optimum results cannot be expected either for a child who misses the early years of the cycle or for one who is withdrawn before they finish the basic materials that have been described, as it is based on three years of development.
Parents should understand that a Montessori school is neither a baby-sitting service nor a daycare that prepares a child for traditional Kindergarten. Rather, it is a unique cycle of learning designed to take advantage of the children's sensitive years between three and six, when they can absorb information from an enriched environment. Children who acquire the basic skills of reading and arithmetic in this natural way have the advantage of beginning their education without drudgery, boredom or discouragement. By pursuing their individual interests in a Montessori classroom, the child gains an early enthusiasm for learning, which is the key in becoming a truly educated person.
What does education mean to you? When you think of school, do you picture:
* an interactive and stimulating environment
* hands-on, engaging work
* students excelling at their own pace
* individuality and creativity
* students developing self discipline and independence; learning to make good academic choices on their own
* teachers following each students' needs and guiding accordingly
* multi-aged classrooms
* confident, happy students who are self motivated and love to learn
*enthusiastic children who initiate lessons
*compassionate and nurturing students who want to make a difference in the world
These are the core qualities you will discover at Northumberland Montessori School. If this is the kind of educational experience you would like for your child, then come visit us! It's an academic environment that follows the Montessori philosophy in order to assist the development of the child through a positive, confident and successful method of teaching.
"Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment."
- Maria Montessori 1870 - 1952
Why Montessori? Take 5 minutes and watch this video by Trevor Eissler. Trevor is the author of "Montessori Madness". This is well worth your time...
"Our care of the child should be governed, not by the desire to make him learn things, but by the endeavor always to keep burning within him that light which is called intelligence." ~ Maria Montessori ~