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The Montessori educational philosophy believes that the educational method, to be effective, must support and address the nature of the child. The nature of the child is not a theoretical construct, but based upon Montessori's detailed observation of the child.
Based upon her observations Montessori came to understand the inner nature of the child:
bullet The child is a dynamic, curious person that has an inner need to know the the world. The Montessori classroom has a multitude of fascinating materials from which to select.
The child comes to know the world through the senses. Consequently, experiences that develop and refine the sense are fundamental to knowing the world. Further, because knowing the world comes through the sense activities must concrete and have "manipulatives" (i.e. toy or game-like). The curriculum area of sensorial in the Montessori classroom aids the child in the development and refinement of the senses and the many manipulative materials in the classroom allows the child to explore and learn.
The child auto-educated. Essentially, the child constructs knowledge through physically manipulating the environment. The physical manipulation, or handling of the environment, allows the child to construct mental images. Mental images lay the foundation for later abstractions. The Montessori teacher does not teach, but rather provides experiences for the child to construct mental images.
The child learns that which is of personal interest. It is important, therefore, for the child to have freedom to select activities that are highly interesting. The Montessori classroom contains hundreds of colorful, exciting materials that are of interest to children.
The child repeats activities until they are fully mastered. The Montessori class schedule has long, uninterrupted times in the morning and in the afternoon for the child to concentrate on activities.
The child is orderly and focused. The Montessori classroom is calm, respectful and peaceful. This atmosphere meets the child's inner need for an atmosphere that supports concentration. The Montessori classroom is orderly and encourages the child to maintain an orderly environment.
Based upon the inner nature of the child the role of the teacher is defined:
The teacher observes the child to determine what is of interest to the child.
The teacher prepares the environment to meet the observed needs of the child.
Based upon the nature of the child and the observed needs of the child the environment is prepared to serve the child.
(Excerpted from Montessori website)