The Montessori Method

Our preschool is a Montessori inspired learning center, guided by Dr. Maria Montessori’s educational philosophy.

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Welcome to Montessori

Written by our Montessori Coordinator, Annette Abuchaibe

When children come into this world, it is evident that their first function is to adapt to their environment, enabling them to be a part of humanity to which they  belong. The process can be described as that of a sponge, absorbing all the elements surrounding them. The numerous levels of order prevailing in their home is a perfect example of the types of things they perceive and absorb. In our daily activities as adults, we are teaching our children to establish and maintain the environment, the care of self, the care of others, courtesy and hospitality, and respect for life and the things within life. These things establish routine and a comforting security in the children. This security is necessary for the child’s development and will benefit them in the future. Montessori education instills this and much more. It fills the classroom with simple activities that have complex aims, drawing the children into purposeful activity. These activities become a source of endless attraction, creating the urge to partake, and an impulse to become independent.

Montessori helps the child to help himself and develops attributes of character, forming the basis for all learning. It allows the children to develop control and coordination of their movements, gives them awareness of their environment, independent work habits, orderly thought patterns, and responsibility. The children engage in experiences which they can draw from for innate problem solving opportunities in life. The entire process of a child experiencing Montessori seems to be similar to that of a cultivated seed, being tended and nurtured by the teacher’s love and guidance and the enriching materials acting as the nutrients supplementing the child’s growth.

About Maria Montessori & The Montessori Method

Written by our Preschool Co-Director Esti Chazanow

Maria Montessori was an Italian physician (1870-1952) who created educational theories, built upon previous ideas and based on her own observations of, and work with, children. Montessori also developed practical materials and methods for implementing her theories, the goal being to develop skills in children that would enable them to become, among other things, responsible and independent.

Montessori attended medical school, and found it difficult to stay there, seeing that she was the only woman enrolled. Her inspiration for not leaving medical school was the sight of a beggar woman’s child happily engrossed in playing with a paper scrap.

Montessori studied children with special needs; when she observed the behavior of children in am asylum, Montessori found that they would concentrate on even the smallest of new objects that entered their environment. She thought these children’s bodies and minds were unused, as opposed to useless, because they were deprived of stimulation and experience.

Renowned educators that most influenced Montessori include: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Johann Pestalozzi, Robert Owen and Friedrich Froebel.

  • Rousseau is well known for his belief that if provided with choices, children would organically make good decisions and his argument that children learned best when provided with learning choices and the freedom to move around in their natural surroundings. Rousseau is also famed for his proposition that optimal learning occurs when children have early sense training and steadily move from concrete to abstract learning. Finally, Rousseau is renowned for his suggestion that children go through three different stages before reaching adulthood.
  • Pestalozzi is most well known for establishing an early childhood education program in a time and place where children under five did not attend school. He is famed for supporting education in which the teacher is viewed as a guide to students, students are able to observe skills and practice them, and when non-traditional learning opportunities, such as singing and physical exercise, are included.
  • Owen is most well known for his belief in education as a method of implementing social change, and for his argument that optimal learning occurs when learning is based upon a child’s curiosity. He is also famous for establishing an infant school in Britain which provided non-traditional learning opportunities, such as dance and gardening, to students.
  • Froebel is most well known for founding the first kindergarten in Germany in 1836.

Montessori eventually extended her ideas to include all children, beyond those with special needs, through the Casa dei Bambini.

The children at the Casa dei Bambini taught Montessori the following:

  • If they found a task interesting, they could concentrate on it, and repeat it many times.
  • They preferred order in their environment, being provided with the opportunity to maintain that order on their own, carrying our real life work using real life materials in quiet or silence, and learning how to take care of themselves in a way that was socially acceptable.
  • They could learn without rewards or punishments, by being provided with the opportunity to self correct, to choose what they want to learn, and by learning on their own.

Montessori’s belief that movement was essential for the child’s normal development caused her to adapt the children’s surroundings to their behavioral and size needs (for example: creating child sized furniture that children could easily transport around the room). This in turn made the children feel comfortable and relaxed in their surroundings.

Montessori decided to teach the children to write before they could read because she wanted them to first develop their fine motor skills (holding a pencil, tracing, writing) and then acquaint them with the sounds of the letters they were tracing / writing. She accomplished this through teaching the children how to trace sandpaper letters with their fingers, and then teaching them the sound of each letter. She also labeled common objects and encouraged children to combine the letter sounds to make words and to associate the words with the corresponding objects.

Two of Montessori’s ideas about education include:

  • Observing children to discover their learning needs; and
  • Understanding that children learn at different paces.

Below are some famous ‘Montessori’ concepts:

  • Montessori believed in the ‘absorbent mind.’ By this she meant that, through their senses, young children are able to take in large amounts of information about their surroundings.
  • ‘Normalization’ is the term Montessori used to describe the mental state children reach when they approach their studies with enthusiasm, work with little direction, treat others in a respectful way, and work quietly on their own or with others.
  • Montessori referred to the children’s activity as work, rather than play, because while she believed that an activity should be valuable in its own right because the child enjoys the process (much like play), it should still require concentration and effort and/or yield value to the child and/or environment.

During Montessori’s last years, many books on her method, written by students who attended her lectures, were published. During this time, she reopened the Montessori schools in Italy and received many honors, award nominations and awards for her work. She also continued lecturing and teaching until her passing.

 

The video clip below, created by the American Montessori Society, provides an excellent preview of the Montessori Method.