19620 Pines Boulevard
Pembroke Pines, FL 33029
(Article written by Pat Davis, M.Ed., AMS)
Maria Montessori was a true pioneer. Maria lived from 1870 to 1952 (see - Montessori History for more information). Montessori had a particular view of learning. The Montessori philosophy therefore depends on three proponents, each having equal value - the child, the aware adult and the prepared environment.
A) The child is the base. Montessori felt that each child was unique and the child's mind and process of learning varied throughout the stages of the child's development.
Birth to age 6 - The child constructs themselves and absorbs their environment The child's personality is laid down.
Ages 6 to 12 - The child constructs his/her social self. The child begins to socialize with the world, to absorb their culture through interacting, observing and through the use of imagination, and begins to develop a sense of morality.
Ages 12 to 18 - The child continues to construct the moral self. They begin to participate in society and to search for and establish their place in it. The teenager requires protection during this time of great changes and therefore, intellectual pursuits often take second seat to social development.
Ages 18 to 24 - The young adult is preparing themselves for his/her place on earth. They are sustaining and expanding their culture, developing leadership abilities with the goal of becoming responsible, contributing members of society.
B) The aware adult, whether a parent or teacher, acts as an observer, protects the child's right to learn, models desired behavior, prepares the environment, and also accommodates the needs of the child. In the classroom setting, the adult is neither simply the central authority nor "imparter of knowledge". When presenting a lesson, the adult's role is to model the learning activity. This is done in a slow, concise way, modeling care and respect. Different modalities of learning are considered when a lesson is given. That is, when the adult speaks, they are not demonstrating, and when they are modeling, there is little language. In this way the child's attention can be focused more on what is said or on what is done. The child is then invited to do the task. Most of the Montessori materials are self correcting so that the child can "learn as they go."
C) The prepared environment is one that encourages exploration and movement (especially for the young child) and will allow "freedom within limits." The child is shown how to respect the environment, how to make choices and is allowed to develop the abilities of concentration, coordination, and a sense of order and independence. Montessori realized that children first needed concrete objects to hold and manipulate. Subsequent materials would then gradually lead the child to abstraction. The furniture in Montessori classrooms fit the child's size. An example -- tiny, light tables and chairs are available for even the youngest Montessori toddler students. Materials for the child's use are complete, attractive and available for the child's choosing. Teacher materials, storage areas and even teachers' desks are ideally out of sight and inaccessible to the child.
Maria Montessori wrote many books during her time. Some that come recommended are; "The Discovery of the Child," "The Absorbent Mind," and "The Secret of Childhood." Many of these can be found in local libraries.
There are also many books written by other authors about Montessori and her philosophy.
Recommendations, in no particular order, include the following:
Lynne Lawrence, "Montessori Read and Write; A Parents' Guide to Literacy for Children"
Aline D. Wolf, "Peaceful Children. Peaceful World : The Challenge of Maria Montessori"
J.G. Bennett, Mario Montessori, "The Spiritual Hunger of the Modern Child"
Elizabeth Hainstock, "Teaching Montessori in the Home - The Preschool Years"
Elizabeth Hainstock, "Teaching Montessori in the Home - The School Years"
Heidi Spietz, "Modern Montessori at Home: A Teaching Guide for Parents of Children 6 through 9 Years of Age"
Heidi Spietz, "Modern Montessori at Home II: A Teaching Guide for Parents of Children 10 through 12 Years of Age"
Susan Stephenson, Michael Olaf's Essential Montessori:
A Guide and Catalogue for Montessori Education from Birth, at Home and at School"
Helen Yankee, "Montessori Math - the Basics"
Timothy Seldin and Donna Raymond, "Geography and History for the Young Child"
Excerpted from the preschool's website