The Montessori Method
The basic idea in the Montessori philosophy of education is that all children carry unseen within themselves the person they will become. In order to develop their unique physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual powers to the fullest, they must have freedom; a freedom achieved through order and self-discipline.
The world of children is full of sights and sounds which initially appear chaotic. This changes as the children develop the skills necessary to classify and categorize their sensory input, so that they may create order. They learn through experience to distinguish among the sensory impressions that bombard them, and eventually mastery over themselves and the environment is achieved.
To aid the children in this momentous task, Dr. Montessori developed what she called the “prepared environment”, for it maintains a certain kind of order, a framework through which to view and evaluate sensory input. This environment allows children to develop at their own speed, according to their own capacities and natural interest, and exposes the children to the world environment, scaled to their size and broken down into their component parts. Children focus on how they do what they do and on their own growth and development rather than how they do what they do relative to others; they help one another to mutual achievement rather that competing amongst themselves. To introduce stress and competition at this age is to add a great impediment to the natural joy of discovery and the love of learning.
The structure of Montessori learning involves the use of may materials with which the child may work independently. Dr. Montessori emphasizes that the hand is the chief teacher of the children – they learn by doing. Children develop concentration and good working skills by fixing their attention on the task they are performing with their hands. Thus the environment is equipped with apparatus that the children may manipulate to discover many concepts that later can be applied to a variety of circumstances and situations. These materials often contains a control of error so that the child can understand and correct any errors in perception without adult intervention.
We recognize that the most valuable impulse toward learning is the self-motivation of the child. Through their natural tendencies for exploration, classification and discovery, children propel themselves toward greater learning. The teacher, or guide, prepares the environment, protects the individual so as to offer stimulation, excitement and direction when needed, but it is the children who learn to work and work to create themselves. The children are self-motivated; they work and completer their activities to their own satisfaction and level of perfection. The Montessori children are “free to learn” because they have developed an “inner discipline” from their exposure to the special nature of the classroom environment and the approach of the directing adults. One of the most important aspects of the environment that the children experience and learn about is one another. Through their daily interaction in this special setting, they develop a true sense of community and an understanding of the needs of each individual and how they are interrelated. They share a deep sense of care and concern of one another and learn how to solve their differences peaceably. They intuitively know that they are all linked, that they all have similar needs and feelings, and they act with mutual respect and responsibility.
The acquisition of these skills, the development of these patterns of learning, and the growth of self-confidence is an on-going process, which begins when the child enters a Montessori environment between the ages of two and three, and is not completed until the child is turning six. It is essential that the child remains in the Primary “prepared environment” for this entire period for them to reap the benefits the Montessori approach and environment has to offer. It is also of utmost importance that the parents work hand-in-hand with the school, learning about the Montessori approach and implementing it in the home.
This is the essence of Dr Montessori’s educational philosophy. Patterns of inner direction and concentration, exploration and discovery, and the joy of self-satisfaction from the completion of an interesting task are created as the foundation upon which the child can build. These stay with the children as they go on the higher learning and set a positive attitude toward the self. Thus the children are confident in their ability to acquire knowledge, solve problems, and cope with new information and experiences.
At One World Montessori we adhere to Dr. Montessori’s philosophy of education and to manifest it in all of our classrooms. To do this, it is essential that parents and teachers work together as the mutual educators of the children and agree to work toward the goals of this philosophy. Freedom of choice, independence of movement, cooperation vs. competition, peaceful problem solving skills, self-motivation and inner direction and community and world awareness and concern are cornerstones upon which all future work is constructed. We must be working together in both the home and the school environments to foster these building blocks.
Choosing a Montessori school for your child means making a commitment to living towards these ideals, making a commitment to education for peace, education for life.