The Montessori Method
"I have studied the child. I have taken what the child has given me and expressed it and that is what is called the Montessori method."
- Maria Montessori
The child-centered Montessori educational movement, begun by Italian pediatrician Maria Montessori at the beginning of this century and proved through generations of children, is rooted in a recognition that the drive to development and acquisition of knowledge is innate in all children. Dr. Montessori found that this drive can best be cultivated by providing children with tools for learning tailored to particular stages of development.
In a Montessori classroom, the teacher serves as guide, presenting a variety of materials and activities to her students. Understanding the nature of children, the teacher provides activities appropriate to their needs. She guides her students toward mastery of themselves and their environment.
Children direct their own work by touching, manipulating, and experimenting with materials that are self-teaching and self-correcting. They develop physically, intellectually, and socially. In the classroom, children are free to work independently or with others, to move about, to speak, to help others, and to seek help from adults or classmates.
Dr. Montessori found that children three to six naturally direct their efforts to developing strength and precision of body and of mind. She created exercises of "Practical Life" such as washing, pouring, polishing, and folding, to give the children opportunities to focus themselves on worthwhile tasks, refining both coordination and concentration.
"Sensorial" exercises allow children to discover and internalize abstractions, such as dimension, color, sound, and shape. "Lessons of Grace and Courtesy" appeal to children's interest in relationships and help them develop valuable social skills.
Children's unconsciously absorbed language becomes conscious in the primary years. In the Montessori classroom, children work with carefully designed materials such as sandpaper and moveable letters that enhance their conscious exploration of spoken and written language.
The ingenious Montessori mathematical materials lead children to understanding of the decimal system and arithmetic operations. Through mathematics, children's abilities to perceive and express precise relationships are developed.
As the children's intellectual capacities, attention spans and physical abilities increase, exercises in language, mathematics and all disciplines of human endeavor help them build skills and ideas which will allow them freedom to explore the larger world and join in the greater work of society.
Montessori primary classrooms are communities of children. Children who are busily and happily engaged in purposeful, orderly and spontaneous activity.
MSSR directs its efforts to meet the following goals for all students:
- The development of each individual child according to the child's needs and potential.
- The attainment of self-discipline.
- The growth of independence and initiative.
- A love of work and a joy in learning.
- Spontaneous creativity.
- The development of movement and muscular control.
- The development of skills through the child's own effort and interest.
- The absorption of impressions and concepts leading to the ability to abstract.
- The training of the child in those fundamental social qualities of good citizenship.
- The development of positive self-concepts and social relations, mutual aid and sharing.
- The development of ethical behavior based on moral and spiritual values.
- An understanding of the environment and a sense of the contribution of all living things to each other, especially humankind's contributions through the ages.
- Teaching-learning situations which are stimulated by child teaching child, and guided by the teacher's observation of the individual needs of the children.
Our Classroom offers:
- An AMI and AMS trained teacher in the classroom who support as much as possible the child's desires for activity; not wait on him, but educate him to be independent. It is necessary for the teacher to guide the child without letting him feel her presence too much, so that she may always be ready to supply the desired help, but may never be the obstacle between the child and his experience.
- A 3-Year Mixed Age Group. We know that there are many things which no teacher can convey to a child of three, but a child of five can do it with the utmost ease. To understand what the older ones are doing fills the little ones with enthusiasm. There is a communication and a harmony between the two that one seldom finds between the adult and the small child.
- A recommended class size of 25 to 29 children. When classes are fairly big, differences of character show themselves more clearly and wider experiences can be gained.
- Three hour of Uninterrupted Work. When children are left to themselves, they work ceaselessly; they do not worry about the clock ...after long and continuous activity the children's capacity for work does not appear to diminish, but to improve.
- A complete set of Materials (Nienhuis). Our classroom is equipped with special materials, that are inviting and well maintained at all times. The fundamental fact in the preparation of the environment is to have only one set of each type of material. When there is only one specimen of each object, and if a piece is in use when another child wants it, the latter will wait for it to be released. Since this happens every hour of the day for years, the idea of respecting others, and of waiting one’s turn, becomes a habitual part of life which always grows more mature.
* While the name "Montessori" may be used by any school, the educational standards, teacher training and materials may vary widely. Dr. Montessori began Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) to insure high standards in Montessori schools. Teachers at MSSR are professionals, with college degrees as well as Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) training. AMI was founded by Maria Montessori to ensure the integrity of her philosophy. The training is rigorous with standards set according to Dr. Montessori's design.
"The child can only develop by means of experience in his environment. We call such experience work." - Maria Montessori