The Montessori Method
The Montessori method of educating children was developed by
Dr. Maria Montessori. While studying children in varying conditions throughout the world, she discovered universal principles
underlying the development of all children. Her revolutionary approach was to look at learning from a child's perspective, observing
children's varied learning styles, abilities and interests. She concluded that every child, with proper guidance, could reach his or
her individual potential.
While addressing the individual child, the Montessori method identifies learning traits common to all children: love of work, capacity for self-discipline, concentration, and "sensitive periods". These "sensitive periods" are stages during which the child is so receptive that learning a particular skill or behavior is almost effortless. Montessori teachers recognize these periods and can offer each child the most stimulating task at the appropriate time.
In the Montessori classroom, a class of mixed age composition works in a prepared environment containing specially designed materials that allow children to assess their own progress. Trained teachers demonstrate the use of materials and guide children toward materials that will challenge them. The emphasis is on learning by doing, going from the concrete to the abstract. Children work on projects alone or in cooperative groups, proceeding at a comfortable pace.
The Montessori curriculum is conceived in three year cycles in accordance with the child's development: infant / toddler (2 months to two years eleven months); preschool (three to six years of age), elementary (six to nine and nine to twelve years of age). Each child proceeds through these cycles in a logical manner based upon his or her stage of development, completing the work within each phase before movement on to the next, attaining greater competence at every step along the way.
The Montessori method succeeds because it draws its principles from the natural development of the child. Its inherent flexibility allows the method to adapt to the needs of the individual regardless of the level of ability or social maturity, with the result that each child becomes a life-long learner with the capacity to fulfill an individual potential, whatever it may be.