Montessori philosophy embraces the whole child, their natural curiosity and love of learning. Based on mutual respect and cooperation, Montessori education encourages independence by providing environments that meet the developmental needs of children. This builds self-confidence, inner discipline, a sense of self-worth and promotes positive social behaviour.
Dr Maria Montessori’s insights and understanding of child development have been enormously influential all over the world, both through the Montessori movement and in mainstream education, which has incorporated many of her practices. Interestingly, Montessori education parallels what is now know about brain development and actively fosters cognitive functions, social cognition, and such higher-order competencies as empathy and leadership thus providing a strong foundation for life-long learning.
Montessori Education Develops:
- Concentration and persistence
- A sense of order
- A positive attitude towards learning
- Initiative and intrinsic motivation
- Sensory motor skills
- Natural curiosity
- Cooperation and a sense of community
- Respect for the rights and needs of others
- Respect for the natural world
Key Principles of the Montessori Method
The Integrated Curriculum – The Montessori curriculum is organised into a spiral of integrated studies with the aim of making education a coherent whole. In the early years, lessons are simply and concretely presented and are reintroduced several times over succeeding years at increasing degrees of abstraction and complexity.
Independence – Great care is taken to create a learning environment that reinforces children’s independence and natural urge toward self-development.
Order – For the small child the physical order of the prepared environment is obvious but order also underlies all of the less tangible aspects of the environment e.g. the consistency of the adults and their approach, the order of presentation etc. For the older child the social order becomes more important.
Choice – the environment affords children the opportunity to choose from a range of activities that are suitable to their individual developmental needs.
Freedom – Although there is freedom and movement within the classroom, it is freedom within limits. The children are limited by the requirement to be constructive and responsible with materials and behaviour. Learning to make good choices and becoming self-disciplined is a major goal of Montessori education and education for life.
Multi-age classroom – Children learn easily from their peers and flourish in an environment similar to a family. The multi-age classroom, grouped according to specific planes of development, allows children a chance to learn from their older peers and later a chance to be a model and teach their newly mastered academic and social skills. A stable and strong community develops as the children continue with the same group for three years. The educators make a deep connection with each student and the students with each other.
Movement – Movement greatly enhances learning. The Montessori materials all involve active use and participation by the children.
Control of Error – in the early years, the environment and in particular the materials are prepared in a way that allows the child to become aware of his mistakes and to correct them for himself so that he understands that it is all right to be wrong and that we can learn from our mistakes.
Materials – the materials that we choose for the environment act as keys to the child’s development and the choice is directed by the child’s essential developmental needs at each age range. The carefully sequenced teaching materials and learning program encourage children to take an active role in their learning, giving them opportunities to develop qualities of independence and self-discipline. The approach fosters social awareness and responsibility and encourages children to value differences.
Role of the Adult – Montessori educators have high expectations of the children’s academic and social achievement. Our aim is to assist the children in moving toward independence, while providing guidance to ensure that the children make good decisions and engage in productive behaviours.
Self-disciple and positive guidance – Montessori educators use kind and firm guidance with the aim of helping children learn self-discipline and self-control. Montessori children respect each other and their environment.
Intrinsic Motivation – children are intrinsically motivated and are driven by their desire to become independent and competent beings in the world. Our goal is for the child to develop a sense of satisfaction from the work itself, not to be dependent on the approval of the teacher or others.
A recent Montessori Australia Foundation (MAF) Article can be found here.