Dr. Maria Montessori
The Montessori method of education is a unique, child-centered approach developed by Dr. Maria Montessori in 1907. She was one of the most influential early years educationalists of the 20th century and was also the first Italian woman to become a doctor. She based her method on her scientific observations of humans from birth to adulthood and created an education based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning, and collaborative play. Her approach truly values the human spirit and the development of the whole child, physical, social-emotional, and cognitive.
The Role of the Montessori Teacher
In Montessori, it is the children who are the center of attention and not the teacher. The role of the “Guide” is to prepare a beautiful environment that meets the development needs of the young mind and invites wonder and curiosity. Through presentations, children are connected to age-appropriate activities and materials that cultivate creativity, independence, self-reliance, and intrinsic motivation. A Montessori “Guide” strives for each child to reach their own potential and values each child’s individuality, kindness, and strength in the community.
Multi-aged classrooms are a hallmark of the Montessori environment, and this offers many unique learning opportunities. Younger children naturally learn by emulating older children and older children reinforce what they have learned through teaching. Children learn to be self-directed, choose activities that appeal to them, and explore at their own pace. Children can learn in a relatively risk-free environment and grow from their mistakes and as a result of this freedom, a sense of responsibility develops, and children feel supported and empowered to become creative and independent adults.
The prepared environment is one of the foundations of the Montessori philosophy. Everything in the classroom has a specific purpose, a specific spot where it is always kept, everything in the classroom is child-sized, and arranged with facilitating learning and independence first and foremost. Materials on the shelves are in sequential order from simple, concrete tasks to more challenging, abstract lessons, left to right, top to bottom, just the way we read. Nothing is placed in the room without careful forethought as to how it will function and benefit the children.