Maria Montessori was born in Italy 1870 and became the first women in Italy to graduate as Doctor of Medicine in 1896. She had an intense and passionate interest in the development of young children. She opened the first institution for children below the age of six, which she called Casa dei Bambini (Children's House) in 1907.
She believed that if education follows the natural development of the child, society would move to a higher level of co-operation, peace and harmony. The goal of the Montessori School is to support children in this development, with the primary aim to provide opportunities for each child to reach his full potential.
Montessori developed special educational materials and a curriculum which would support the natural growth of children from all backgrounds. Her approach protects children from many of the obstacles to development and encouraged individual nurturing and group harmony.
Montessori education is a gentle and respectful preparation for life. It will give your child a proper environment, freedom of choice, great preparation for the future education, self-confidence and the best of happy childhood.
The psychic development of the child starts before the birth. Montessori philosophy says that the child contains a spiritual embryo. This is not what you can see; this is a special force within the child, which he got from the nature. It is a great power and effort to observe, learn and imitate through the environment.
We need to be ready, when the child is born and become a part of our life and protect his great internal potential. We, as the adults, must nourish it with love as the child is very fragile. Newborn child needs freedom and good environment for his psychic grow. Every child is the unique creation of the nature. We can help him to unfold himself from within. Warm, love, soft touch, this is what he needs.
If your child is 2.5 to 6 years old, he is enjoying an amazing time for the natural development. We say that the child is going through the sensitive periods and is able to absorb from the environment easily and naturally through the senses.
Sensitive periods are the blocks of the time and appear in the individual child differently. The Montessori environment helps to unfold those sensitive periods. The Montessori directress should recognize them in each child, when the time is right, because when we pass them, they disappear and the child loses his sensitivities for the natural development forever.
When children learn and absorb information through the proper environment, during the time of sensitive periods, they are satisfying their inner needs and getting the better control of themselves. The child is calmer and concentrates on his work.
According to M. Montessori, the sensitive periods are very important and valuable contributions in the child's life. For example, the sensitive period for language continue from 0 to 6 years of age.
The prepared environment helps to fulfil sensitive periods. This kind of environment offers the freedom and choice; and offers a material, 'which has control of error in itself'. The environment has different work areas and the furniture is the child size furniture. The material is in the special order on the shelves, from concrete to abstract and is always neatly hold.
The room has warm atmosphere and is well organized. Children are shown how to use the material and how to take care of it. Children are free to move and choose the material and related activity. Cycle of activities helps child to achieve the goal of concentration, independence and discipline and help him organize his work.
The environment helps children to understand order, develop language, writing and reading as well as refine senses. It helps them socialize, cooperate and teaches them grace and courtesy and also how to share and help each other. Music plays great part of the environment, helps child to get the rhythm, concentration and the balance.
The children prefer the real things to work with and challenge themselves. The Montessori environment offers the specific areas with the special materials, which help children to grow. These areas are:
The child learns in different way than adult. He absorbs from his environment everything unconsciously and consciously ' through his absorbent mind. The child from his birth to 3 years of age absorbs everything, like culture, habits, manners, and language, very naturally.
The conscious mind is working from 3 to 6 years, when everything what child absorbed unconsciously is reinforced consciously. Hands play very important role at this time. The sensitive receptors on the hands allow the child to understand his surrounding world. When you allow the child to move freely and explore the environment, the child will for sure construct his mind and developed the memory.
When the child is loved by his parents and by the 'teacher', when the child is in the proper environment, then the freedom and discipline develop naturally. It seems as they are quite opposite things. But in reality, they go and work hand in hand. Especially, in the Montessori environment, which creates harmony and order, the sequence of the freedom, which is given to children, leads to the naturally developed discipline. The child is self-motivated and independent.
The child, surrounded with the well balanced environment and the material that keeps his attention, develops the concentration and become calm. M. Montessori calls it a normalization process. The child works happily and spontaneously with the freely chosen piece of the work. Normalization is the harmony in the child himself. He does not need anybody to check his work, all material is self controlled and if there are any mistakes, the child learns through them, challenges himself and makes himself perfect being.
The real Montessori directress should understand each child and know him on each level. Role of the directress is indirect in the Montessori environment. She is not a center of the classroom and not even a center of the child life. But on the other hand, she plays an important role in the Montessori environment as she is the link between the child and material.
The Montessori directress is there for children to help them to achieve their goals and help them with their needs, if necessary. She is always there for children to prepare them for their path. When we really understand the child, he will unfold his soul to us and this is one amazing experience for each Montessori directress.
The Montessori phrase “Follow the child” play important role in the whole Montessori education. The directress should trust the child and believe in his spontaneous action.
It happens that the young child is demanding the activities, which are not 'appropriate' to his age. Let him try and follow him. He was observing his older friend to do this activity and he feels inside that he might be ready for that. If he does not succeed, he will walk away himself and come back another day and try it again and again. Trust the child and show him your confidence to build his self- esteem.
The mixed age group creates the family system and helps children to progress faster by observing older friends. On the other side, the older children learn how to help young children. They help them to present new activities and 'teach' them their natural skills. The Montessori environment really supports this development and offers that great possibilities.
As the parents, please do not have the doubt about your child, trust him. Children are able to do many things, but they must be allowed to do it. Follow your child as we follow him in our school. Children trust us and we need to trust them. That is what can make our children happy.