Montessori preschools use a unique style of education that focuses on early education through individual independence and activity. The process involves play-based activities, physical exercise, and an awareness of one’s value in society.
Who Was Maria Montessori?
When Maria Montessori got her medical degree in 1896 she was one of only a few women who had achieved the honor in a field that is still dominated by men today. In 1900, her focus in psychology earned her an appointment in education where she was tasked with teaching children with learning disabilities. Through her observations, she developed a successful method for teaching that Montessori preschools around the world use today.
Developing the Montessori Method
Montessori noticed that children learned best when they were allowed to follow their interests. She also became aware of the way children learned through play, a facet that she considered the natural method for learning. Instead of a rigid, authoritarian approach to learning, Montessori concluded that observation and guidance are more appropriate in encouraging children to learn.
The 5 Principles of Montessori
Montessori education involves 5 fundamental aspects that are central to childhood learning:
- Respect for the Child – Children are small people and should be treated with the same respect used in communicating with other adults. In Montessori, respect for children is the foundation of the learning process.
- The Absorbent Mind – The easiest way to learn is by doing. This is evidence of the absorbent mind and a vital aspect of Montessori education.
- Sensitive Periods – Children go through periods when they are better able to learn different conceptual ideas. By presenting them with opportunities that correspond to these sensitive periods, children progress faster and more uniformly.
- The Prepared Environment – Child-sized furnishings, inviting activities, and stimulating workstations allow children to fit into their environment, which increases their sense of worth and accomplishment.
- Auto-Education – Montessori activities are self-teaching and auto-correcting. Incorrect answers are immediately obvious and learn to correct themselves. This builds self-esteem, encouraging children to do more.
There are other aspects of the Montessori Method, such as mixed-age classes, but the processes mentioned here form the foundation of Montessori education. Through observation and application, the Montessori Method has become renowned as an educational program that benefits children in all aspects of their lives.