- What is a Montessori school?
- What is the Child's work?
- What are sensitive periods?
- What are the advantages of mixed age classes?
- Why are Montessori children more self-confident, outgoing and self-reliant?
- What is the Montessori concept of discipline?
- What are the objectives of the Montessori approach to education?
A Montessori school is a special place for the child to cultivate his/her own natural desire to learn. The Montessori philosophy for child development was first formulated by Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian physician, during the early 1900's. Dr. Montessori's program for education focuses on the natural development of the whole child from birth through maturity. Children 2 to 6 years of age are the focus of most Montessori educational programs. The concept allows children to experience the joy of learning at an early age and provides an environment in which intellectual, moral, creative, physical and social growth flourish.
Children have a sense of the worth and value of what they desire. They choose all activities eagerly and spontaneously, and become totally involved with their own process of learning. The work process involves attaining skills, refining tastes, developing sensitivities, strengthening concentration, solving problems, building self-esteem and achieving new insights.
Sensitive age periods are described as periods when the child shows unusual capabilities in acquiring specific skills. Another name for this phenomenon might be "formative periods" in which a child is psychologically attuned to acquire given ideas or skills more readily than at any other period. Examples of the "sensitive periods" are for acquiring a sense of order, between 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 years of age for the average child, for precise movement and coordination 2 1/2 to 4 years, for writing, 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 years and for reading and numbers, 4 to 5 years of age. Recent studies show that 80% of a child's mental development is complete by the age of seven.
A child can work with older children in one subject, younger children in another, and still have social interaction with children his or her own age.
Montessori is based on a profound respect for the child's personality. The child works from his own free choice and is allowed a large measure of independence. This forms the basis of self-discipline. As each child progresses at his own pace and successfully completes the self-correcting exercises, he develops confidence in his ability to understand his accomplishments.
Discipline is a prerequisite condition for learning. Montessori discipline is an 'inner discipline' and inner control which the child develops from his or her own behavior and in conjunction with his or her home environment. Dr. Montessori noted that many so-called undisciplined children were really frustrated by the lack of proper stimulation and an inadequate opportunity to achieve. She noted that young people became happier and much more self-controlled after a period of time in a Montessori class. They experienced challenging tasks which not only absorbed their energies, but resulted in a sense of achievement.
The Montessori approach is designed to assist the child in acquiring the social skills and self-confidence which are needed to fulfill his own potential. This is accomplished by building on interests, nurturing enthusiasm and making activities available to fit individual needs.