Dr Montessori’s approach to education concerns the development of the potential of the whole child, i.e. mentally, physically, socially & emotionally. From her vast experience of observing children, she came to believe education begins at birth, with the first six years of life being the most formative. Children in this age group were readily able to ‘soak-up’ information from their environment like a sponge. Dr Montessori appropriately termed this ‘The Absorbent Mind’. She also discovered that children (0-6 yrs) showed “Sensitive Periods” for learning. These areas of learning included:
- the development of the senses
- acquiring of language through speaking, listening, reading & writing
- co-ordination of movement
- a sense of order about themselves & the world
- an interest in small detail &
- sensitivity to social relationships
The main aim of her approach (derived from understanding the developmental needs of the child) was one of developing certain qualities within the child rather than mastery of different subject areas. These qualities included:
- Orderly work habits
- Persistence in completing a task
- Self discipline
- A desire to learn
- Initiative &
- Creative self expression.
“Unlike many educational philosophers, Montessori developed an educational method to implement her philosophy”
Paula Lilliard Polk, author of “Montessori – A Modern Approach”
There are two key components of the Montessori Method:
- The environment: namely the prepared classroom environment and the educational materials
- The teacher, termed by Dr Montessori as the Director.
The Montessori educational approach looks for more than retention of knowledge. It aims to also generate security, trust, and independence in the child. It prepares the child to cope with differing situations and to then move on to primary and secondary education with confidence.
As a result...