“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.” – Maria Montessori
Montessori education offers a broad vision of education as an “aid to life”. This approach is designed to support children with their task of inner construction. This method succeeds because it draws on the natural development of the child. Each child’s inner directives are guided towards wholesome growth.
Montessori classrooms provide a prepared environment where children can go to do purposeful work. Dr. Montessori developed the curriculum based on the neurological and physiological needs of the child at each stage of development. Then she broke the curriculum up into concrete activities which she placed beautifully and logically within the Montessori classroom. The role of the Montessori teacher is to demonstrate the use of the materials and activities based on observation and careful assessment of the child’s needs. The ultimate goal of the teacher is to intervene less and less as the child develops. The Montessori teacher receives specialized training and education so that he or she can develop the skill of knowing when to intervene and when to observe. In this multi-age environment the children develop independence, creativity, responsibility and a sense of their place as a contributing member of their community. Maria Montessori was the first woman doctor in Italy, in 1896. Through scientific observation, she developed a system of learning based on her conclusions about how children relate with one another, learn through the use of specific materials, and go through universal phases of development.
Dr. Montessori’s philosophy was based on the principle that all children naturally develop in stages, called planes of development. From birth to age 6, children are in the first plane, where they are sensorial explorers that absorb the world around them. Children in the second plane, ages 6 through 12, become conceptual explorers and abstract thinkers. They are eager to learn and experience the world and their role in it.
Using her background in psychology, and her belief that society could be bettered through the education of children – she developed her approach to education. She also articulated universal laws of development that are inherent to children of all races and cultures. Her timeless method continues to be highly respected internationally.