"Maria Montessori and the Montessori Method
Maria Montessori's groundbreaking theories are a culmination of her life-long study and observation of children's development and learning. New research in learning and brain development confirms what Montessori could only observe one hundred years ago:
· Children have an innate desire to learn, and
· Children between the ages 0 - 6 years learn differently than any other time in their life.
Montessori referred to this as the "absorbent mind." During these years, there are multiple sensitive periods in which the mind is more receptive, making it easier for the young child to acquire certain skills and concepts. She believed children could learn reading and writing as naturally as they leaned to speak and to walk. For example, we now recognize it is easier for a person to learn languages between ages 0-6 than any other time in her life.
Therefore, it is important at this critical stage of development to surround children with experiences and materials that will enhance their development. Montessori created a method and materials that correspond to these sensitive periods. Her innovative ideas led to changes now widely accepted and used in all types of schools, which include child- sized furniture, cooperative learning, mixed-aged classrooms, and educational materials.
Our classrooms are full of beautiful, engaging materials specifically designed for this special age. Each material introduces one abstract
idea and through the children's concrete experiences, they are able to understand and internalize this concept. For example, the red rods are ten rods that vary from 10 cm. to 1 meter and introduce the abstract concept of length. As a child brings the rods to his rug, he is required to stretch his arms wider and wider thus providing a physical, concrete experience that reinforces the abstract concept of length. The initial lesson is sorting the
rods from shortest to longest; if there is one rod out of place, it is easy for the child to see and correct. This self-correcting feature is inherent in all Montessori materials and makes it possible for the child to explore without adult intervention. In later lessons, we add the the associated vocabulary (short, shortest, long, etc) to help the child describe the different relationships among the rods. Because he now understands 'length', he can
experiment creating beautiful patterns, mazes, or even a pyramid. This work is even more fun with friends as they negotiate designs, judging balance and form. This is true learning through play, and it is dynamic and exciting, self-motivated and internalized. We provide similar experiences in language, geography, art, natural science, and math.
Our teachers are facilitators, emphasizing the process of learning rather than the product. Great care is taken to prepare an environment that introduces the children to new experiences and develops new skills in a warm, supportive community. We observe each child's learning style, developing and introducing new lessons and materials when she is ready. We lead them to, but never take away their moment of discovery. Experts
in learning, including Howard Gardner and Mel Levine, are calling for the individualization of teaching to recognize each child's strengths and learning differences. In our classes this is a given! Our children become true active learners, are self-confident and self-motivated. "
Excerpted from the preschool's website