Who was Maria Montessori? .......
Maria Montessori qualified as a medical doctor in Rome in 1896. Through her work with children Maria Montessori observed that by using their senses children were able to build up a picture of the concept of the reality of the world. This eventually led to abstract thought. This process of educating through the senses became the basis of the Montessori Method.
What is the Montessori Method?
These principles were formulated by Maria Montessori and have been applied in countries all over the world for almost a century. The most important principles of the Montessori Method are; -
· The Prepared Environment and Freedom in that environment
· The Directress/Teacher
The Prepared Environment
This refers to the impact and influence a child’s environment has on his/her development and capacity for absorbing knowledge through their experiences in that environment.
The environment is arranged in different areas;-
The PRACTICAL LIFE area is the area in which the child can explore and develop fine-motor co-ordination, gross-motor co-ordination, and concentration, by working with activities such as spooning, pouring, polishing, sweeping and practising fastenings on the dressing frames.
The SENSORIAL area focuses the attention by enabling the child to grasp basic concepts about the world around them by refining and concentrating on one sense at a time. A child learns through their senses and not verbally as adults do. The SENSORIAL materials are beautifully crafted and innovatively designed to the specifications laid down by Maria Montessori. They include matching and pairing exercises using the different senses, classification activities, and construction activities. Many of these activities indirectly prepare the child for reading, writing and number concepts.
The LANGUAGE area enables each child to learn about sounds and words in a concrete way. Initially the child is introduced to the ‘shape of the sound’; by tracing over the sandpaper letters with the index and second fingers. They then progress at their own pace so that they are soon able to ‘build’ words and progress to reading and writing.
The MATHEMATICAL area focuses on using concrete quantities and then introducing number symbols and abstract ideas. This approach ensures that the foundation of fundamental concepts is formed in a clear, practical and logical manner.
The CULTURAL AND SCIENTIFIC areas include many concepts required for building a knowledge and understanding of the world. Cultures around the world, as well as the continents, and the world of nature, are explored. Children are encouraged to expand their imaginations into the world of reality.
CREATIVE DEVELOPMENT is encouraged by use of all types of art materials and with music, singing, musical instruments and role-play clothes.
PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT and gross-motor co-ordination is assisted by various activities in the school garden both sporting and caring for the environment.
The Montessori principle of freedom is generally misunderstood. In the Montessori environment the child is given freedom within boundaries. A total lack of boundaries would cause a child to feel insecure and rebellious.