The child’s nature is to aim directly and energetically at functional independence.
Maria Montessori was the first woman to receive a degree in medicine from the University of Rome, Italy in 1896. As a physician, anthropologist and educator, Dr. Maria Montessori concluded through her study and observations that children between the ages of two and five are ready for and, indeed, thrive in a solid academic environment. She carefully observed the manner in which children learn and how they used the specific materials she created. These materials were carefully designed to enable children to teach themselves through their interaction and exploration. Every piece of equipment, every exercise, Dr. Montessori developed was based on what she observed children to do “naturally”.
In 1938 Dr. Montessori opened the Montessori Training Centre in Laren, Netherlands and founded a series of teacher training courses in India in 1939.
The work in the classroom is organized into five areas: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Mathematics and Cultural Subjects which include Geography, History, Science and the Arts. The children are guided by a trained Montessori teacher and learn at an individual pace, allowing each child’s abilities to emerge and flourish. As the child becomes active in the selection and mastery of materials, she /he gains in self-confidence. The result is a child who is self-motivated and loves to learn.
The activities that children are engaged with are called “work”. The Directress (lead teacher) provides each child with individual “lessons” on how to use each material.
“Education is not what the teacher gives; education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences upon the environment.”
AMI-USA presents the key principles of Montessori education.
- Movement and learning are closely connected. Movement enhances thinking and learning.
- Learning materials allow children to learn at their own pace and provide a sense of control over their lives.
- When teachers understand child development they can guide a child toward the work in the classroom that will be most beneficial and of interest. When there is interest learning and engagement are high.
- The classroom experience encourages both independence and care of the environment.
- Mixed-age groups support the children in all areas of growth, and allow children to learn from their peers, as well as providing opportunities for peer leadership.