What is the Montessori Method?

Before one can answer what Maria Montessori's educational method is all about, we need to look at who the woman behind the philosophy was.  Maria Montessori was the first woman to receive her medical degree from the University of Rome in Italy.  She developed her method of education in the early part of this century.   When furthering her studies in psychology, Dr. Montessori began to work with handicapped children and realized what incredible progress children could make by simply allowing them to experience everyday life.  This led her to devote the rest of her life to the education of children.  In 1907, Dr. Montessori opened the first Children's House (Casa dei Bambini) for fifty 3 to 6 year olds. 

Dr. Montessori developed her method because she saw the potential in each individual child.   She believed that every child has within him/herself the natural drive to learn.  There is an inner guide that uses the children’s curiosity to learn on their own.  We want as parents and teachers to foster this investigation of their world, not to stomp it out or merely fill a child with facts that he or she is not ready to use or understand.  In order to be able to fully develop one's physical and intellectual potential, a child needs freedom.  Freedom is achieved through order and self-discipline.  In every child, there is a basic need for order.  This starts within the very first year of life.  Children have to learn to gradually create order to develop at their own pace according to their own capabilities and in a non-competitive atmosphere in their first years of school.  Dr. Montessori wrote," Never let a child risk failure until he has a reasonable chance of success."

It is therefore our role at Mequon Montessori School to prepare an environment in which a child can accomplish the above, freedom within limits and order through the use of materials.  The teachers offer work (activities) according to the readiness of each child.  The teacher is in the classroom as a guide, to direct activities, and to provide any materials the child will need to continue at working to be independent.  The goal of all materials and activities in the classroom is to develop order, concentration, coordination, and independence.

Dr. Montessori also talks about the "absorbent mind" of the child.  Children are like sponges taking in their environment through their senses. At certain times in a child's life, they are more interested and ready to learn about certain concepts, abilities, and skills.  These times are known as sensitive periods.  For example, children all go through sensitive periods for putting things in order, for language development, for counting, for reading, etc.  Our classrooms allow a child to choose materials that relate to his/her own sensitive period.  It is easier at this point in a child's life to acquire this skill than at any other time.

At our school, the directresses use Maria Montessori’s educational philosophy to follow the child.  They present lessons within a child’s sensitive period and guide them through activities.  Our rich classrooms inspire independent learning activities and our curriculum integrates reading and math skills, science activities, geography and cultural studies, sensory and daily living skills. Music and art are encouraged through open-ended activities available at all times for children to create.  Children gain confidence and self-esteem through all the successes in the classroom.  They learn to share, take turns, and cooperate in a safe, secure environment.

About MMS