Montessori Philosophy

Who was Maria Montessori?

Born in Ancona, Italy, in 1870, Maria Montessori was the first woman to graduate from the University of Rome Medical School. Upon graduation, she specialized in treating children. Over time she began to teach, preparing materials, taking notes and reflecting on her observations and work. In 1907 she opened “A Children’s House”, a childcare centre in the San Lorenzo slums of Rome. Montessori based this program on her observations that children learn best in an environment filled with developmentally appropriate materials that provide experiences that contribute to the growth of self-motivated, independent learners. She believed that “a child’s work is to create the person he/she will become.” This is achieved through purposeful movement, exploration and discovery of their environment.

A Montessori education fosters independent, self-motivated and goal-directed children with a life long love of learning. This approach is predicated on a belief that the best learning will occur in an environment supportive of an individual’s unique development. Thus, education is not a tool used to develop basic intellectual skills; it is a preparation for life.

Learning

Each child is born with a sense of wonder, fascinated by and eager to experience everything about the world. They work very hard to seek out answers to questions that they find meaningful, then take delight in their personal discoveries. They will not, however, exert much effort on tasks that are dictated by others. Dr. Maria Montessori recognized this, and built upon it in developing her method.

Understanding

Maria Montessori saw children as individuals-each with a unique personality, potential and contribution-worthy of respect. So, in contrast to traditional approaches where conformity by the child was paramount to success, she sought to teach the children how to learn, how to think, and how to do-both by themselves and for themselves-so that they could define and achieve their own successes.

Growth

The Montessori classroom is a carefully prepared environment, stocked with special materials for hands-on use by the children. The teacher is specially trained to observe the children’s interests and to direct them toward lessons that meet their individual stages of development. Dr. Montessori believed that one should “never let children risk failure until they have a reasonable chance of success.” At every stage of learning the teaching material is designed to test understanding and correct errors. Early work on time management, concentration, task completion, and thoroughness established in early years produce a competent learner in later years.

Respect

The Montessori approach to education fosters independent, self-reliant, and responsible children who learn to respect themselves, others, and their environment because they themselves are respected. They learn to appreciate differences and practice acceptance of others because they are each treated as special individuals.

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