“…Education is not something which the teacher does, but…is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being. It is not acquired by listening to words, but by virtue of experiences in which the child acts on his environment. The teacher’s task is not to talk, but to prepare and arrange a series of motives for cultural activity in a special environment made for the child.” – Maria Montessori
Montessori education is a scientific method of education developed by Dr. Maria Montessori over one hundred years ago. The method is based the belief that children have a natural love for learning, and deserve respect. Through observation, Dr. Montessori identified four stages of childhood development, as well as psychological characteristics unique to each stage. Using this information, she created educational environments that corresponded to the spontaneous process of learning evident at each plane of development.
Montessori environments are based on the following key principles:
A Prepared Environment and a Prepared Adult:
Beautiful and orderly, the prepared environment is designed specifically for children to work independently with a range of hands-on, experiential learning materials. A Montessori-trained adult serves as a guide, following and challenging the child in his or her academic development.
Freedom and Responsibility:
Children are free to move about the classroom, and free to choose the work they desire, so long as they are respectful to each other and the classroom materials. Children are free to repeat work at any time, creating the opportunity for mastery. The child understands that not working is not an option in a Montessori environment.
Process and Product:
Children are naturally driven to discover and learn. Using activities and lessons to stimulate their interest, they learn fundamental concepts through a process of deep work. The children are appropriately challenged, and free to pursue their passions. Uninterrupted work time helps each child build concentration, focus on internal development, and build their own unique personality.
Independence and Interdependence:
The task of the educator is to facilitate the child’s job of becoming a full human being, and therefore, to remove any obstacles which hinder that goal. Independent work times and multi-age classrooms help children learn from each other, while providing ample leadership opportunities. Peaceful and respectful interactions amongst the children and adults results in the building of community within the classroom, the school, and greater society. t