WHAT IS MONTESSORI?

Everything you need to know about Montessori... and more.

INTRODUCTION TO MONTESSORI

The basic idea in the Montessori philosophy of education is that all children carry unseen within themselves the person they will become. In order to develop their unique physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual powers to the fullest, they must have freedom; a freedom achieved through order and self-discipline.

BACKGROUND ON  MONTESSORI

(From the American Montessori Society website)

The Montessori Method of education, developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, is a child-centered educational approach based on scientific observations of children from birth to adulthood. Dr. Montessori’s Method has been time-tested, with over 100 years of success in diverse cultures throughout the world.

It is a view of the child as one who is naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a supportive, thoughtfully prepared learning environment. It is an approach that values the human spirit and the development of the whole child—physical, social, emotional, cognitive.

To aid the children in this momentous task, Dr. Montessori developed what she called the “prepared environment”, for it maintains a certain kind of order, a framework through which to view and evaluate sensory input. This environment allows children to develop at their own speed, according to their own capacities and natural interest, and exposes the children to the world environment, scaled to their size and broken down into their component parts. Children focus on how they do what they do and on their own growth and development rather than how they do what they do relative to others; they help one another to mutual achievement rather than competing amongst themselves. To introduce stress and competition at this age is to add a great impediment to the natural joy of discovery and the love of learning.

The structure of Montessori learning involves the use of many materials with which the child may work independently. Dr. Montessori emphasizes that the hand is the chief teacher of the children – they learn by doing. Children develop concentration and good working skills by fixing their attention on the task they are performing with their hands. Thus the environment is equipped with apparatus that the children may manipulate to discover many concepts that later can be applied to a variety of circumstances and situations. These materials often contain a control of error so that the child can understand and correct any errors in perception without adult intervention.

HALLMARKS OF MONTESSORI

Components necessary for a program to be considered authentically Montessori include multi-age groupings that foster peer learning, uninterrupted blocks of work time, and guided choice of work activity. In addition, a full complement of specially designed Montessori learning materials are meticulously arranged and available for use in an aesthetically pleasing environment.

The teacher, child, and environment create a learning triangle. The classroom is prepared by the teacher to encourage independence, freedom within limits, and a sense of order. The child, through individual choice, makes use of what the environment offers to develop himself, interacting with the teacher when support and/or guidance is needed.

Multi-age groupings are a hallmark of the Montessori Method: younger children learn from older children; older children reinforce their learning by teaching concepts they have already mastered. This arrangement also mirrors the real world, where individuals work and socialize with people of all ages and dispositions.

Dr. Montessori observed that children experience sensitive periods, or windows of opportunity, as they grow. As their students develop, Montessori teachers match appropriate lessons and materials to these sensitive periods when learning is most naturally absorbed and internalized.

In early childhood, Montessori students learn through sensory-motor activities, working with materials that develop their cognitive powers through direct experience: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching, and movement.

In the elementary years, the child continues to organize his thinking through work with the Montessori learning materials and an interdisciplinary curriculum as he passes from the concrete to the abstract.  He begins the application of his knowledge to real-world experiences.

This organization of information—facts and figures—prepares the child for the world of adolescence, when thought and emotion evolve into understanding more abstract, universal concepts such as equity, freedom, and justice.

MONTESSORI AT THE IVY SCHOOL


The acquisition of these skills, the development of these patterns of learning, and the growth of self-confidence is an on-going process.  It is also of utmost importance that the parents work hand-in-hand with the school, learning about the Montessori approach and implementing it in the home. This is the essence of Dr Montessori’s educational philosophy. Patterns of inner direction and concentration, exploration and discovery, and the joy of self-satisfaction from the completion of an interesting task are created as the foundation upon which the child can build. These stay with the children as they go onto higher learning and set a positive attitude toward the self. Thus the children are confident in their ability to acquire knowledge, solve problems, and cope with new information and experiences.

At The Ivy School we adhere to Dr. Montessori’s philosophy of education and to manifest it in all of our classrooms. To do this, it is essential that parents and teachers work together as the mutual educators of the children and agree to work toward the goals of this philosophy. Freedom of choice, independence of movement, cooperation vs. competition, peaceful problem solving skills, self-motivation and inner direction and community and world awareness and concern are cornerstones upon which all future work is constructed. We must be working together in both the home and the school environments to foster these building blocks.

Choosing a Montessori school for your child means making a commitment to living towards these ideals, making a commitment to education for peace, education for life.