The Montessori Method
The Montessori Method was developed, over 100 years ago, by Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian physician, educator, and innovator. Dr. Montessori observed children naturally engage and focus on activities, educating themselves with work they spontaneously choose, if presented with a beautifully prepared environment, full of purpose and motive. Through scientific observations and experimental teaching methods, Dr Montessori designed learning materials and a classroom environment that fostered a young child’s natural desire to learn.
Today, the Montessori Method is a highly respected child development approach used extensively around the world.
The Montessori Method is a holistic child-led educational model, based on natural human development. Central to the method is the dynamic triad between the child, Montessori Lead, and prepared environment. The Lead, who must be appropriately trained, implements the method, and provides a link between the child and the prepared environment. Through careful observations and individual program plans, based on the child’s developmental stage, ability, and interests, the Lead humbly guides the child’s exploration through the prepared environment supporting their intellectual, physical, emotional, and social development.
THE PREPARED ENVIRONMENT
As mentioned above, the special characteristic of the First Plane of development is the child’s ‘Absorbent Mind’, their natural ability to absorb information and sensations from their environment. This plane is divided into two sub-planes: the ‘Unconscious Absorbent Mind’ (ages 0 to 3) and the ‘Conscious Absorbent Mind’ (ages 3 to 6). The Montessori Casa environment represents a unique three-year learning cycle designed to take advantage of a child’s sensitive years during the ages 3 to 6, the ‘Conscious Absorbent Mind’ plane of development. The Casa environment is rich with aesthetically pleasing materials that are self-correcting and indirectly prepare the child for further advanced academic learning. The Montessori Casa environment includes five areas of learning: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Mathematics and Cultural Studies.
This is the cornerstone of the Casa environment and is the building block for all the other areas of learning. It consists of simple daily activities that are meaningful and creative, with attention to detail. The materials correspond to the child’s sensitive period for refinement of movement, focus, independence, coordination, and order. The activities include care of oneself, care of the environment, and respect and care for others.
In this area, children develop and refine their five senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste, and learn to express, classify, and broaden their sensory experiences. The activities in this area help children develop concrete concepts that lay the foundation for advanced learning in mathematics, science, and music.
Language development in a Montessori classroom starts with expanding a child’s vocabulary and developing their phonetic awareness. The Montessori classroom offers endless opportunities for children to naturally develop their spoken language. When a child is ready, they learn how to construct and write phonetically sounding words that prepares them for writing and reading short stories.
The mathematical materials help children learn concrete mathematical concepts, starting with quantity, through exploration and manipulation. The materials increase in complexity and as the child’s mathematical mind matures, they progress on to more abstract concepts like the four maths operands, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
This area encompasses a wide range of subjects that are not covered in the other areas of learning, and help children develop their interests further by undertaking more in-depth projects. This is a fun and exciting area and includes subjects like geography, history, science, zoology, botany, music, art, and peace education.
If you are interested in learning more about the Montessori Method,
you may find the following links to well recognized Montessori organizations useful.
Association Montessori Internationale (AMI)
AMI is an international authority on Montessori education, a member of UNESCO as well as a non-governmental organization with the United Nations.
Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE)
MACTE is dedicated to improving academic degree and certificate programs for Montessori professional educators and to assure the public of their quality.
American Montessori Society (AMS)
AMS is a vibrant community of schools, teachers, families, and others determined to make Montessori a strong and positive force in education.
Canadian Council of Montessori Administrators (CCMA)
The CCMA is a not-for-profit corporation committed to supporting Canadian Montessori administrators and schools. The CCMA provides a unified voice in negotiations with government and other agencies.