Dr. Maria Montessori was an Italian physician, educator and innovator, acclaimed for developing an educational method that builds on the way that children naturally learn. Based on her scientific observations, Montessori developed unique materials, a child-centered environment, and was one of the first people to revolutionize educational thought by stressing respect for the children, freedom of expression, self-education, and training through use of movement and the senses.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Montessori method of education is a unique approach to learning. Rather than simply “teaching” children concepts, the environment is designed to stimulate the children’s interest and facilitate their understanding and learning capacities spontaneously – with little or no adult intervention.
The main purpose of the Montessori method is to provide an environment where the children can work independently and develop inner-discipline. According to Dr. Maria Montessori, “The child is the father of man.” As children begin to develop their inner selves, their love of life and learning expands continuously.
Most educators and psychologists today agree that the single most important period in the development of a person’s intelligence occurs between birth and age five. Children’s minds are extremely absorbent and their curiosity is at a peak during these early years. When properly nourished and stimulated, children’s minds form patterns for learning that will serve them well throughout their lives. The Montessori system of preschool education has proven to be one of the most effective and fastest growing methods to guide children through these critical years
Daycare centres are generally for the purpose of caring for children on an all-day basis. Nursery schools are generally experiences in a socialization and play. Montessori schools are oriented toward educational experiences combined with socialization and play.
In most preschools a teacher teaches the children educational concepts in a group format. In a Montessori school, the children learn concepts spontaneously as they work independently with the many materials in the environment. A three-year commitment to the Montessori method is encouraged, as we base our programs around Montessori’s theories of psychological development. Dr. Maria Montessori felt that children needed to be grouped according to ages 2 ½-6, 6-9, and 9-12 year spans. Therefore, we offer an un-graded, non-competitive environment where children are free to progress at their own pace and learn from other children of varying ages.
The Montessori classroom is a child-sized world. To children, the world is unmanageable- it is too big, too complex, and too confusing. By careful selection of material by the Directresses, an environment is set up that allows the children to explore life at a level they can understand. The materials or exercises are designed to stimulate independent exploration. This prepared environment entices the children to proceed at their own pace from simple activities to more complex ones. Through this process the children’s natural curiosity is satisfied and they begin to experience the joy of discovering the world around them. Materials and curriculum centre around Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math, Geography, Science, French, Art, Music, Drama, and Dance.
As the children develop their sense of pride in their “work”, a feeling of confidence, well being, and joy begins to manifest itself in the children. A “new child” is born. A classroom of Montessori children is a joy to watch. An observer will often remark on a spirit of respect, love, and co-operation among the children that is not often found in other learning environments.
The Montessori teacher is called a “Directress” because she facilitates the classroom activity. The Directress carefully plans the environment in the interest of the children, and helps the children progress from one activity to the next. The Directress is trained to deal with each child individually, allowing him/her to choose from many activities within his/her range of ability. The Directress stands back supportively while children are working and allows them the satisfaction of his/her own discovery.
The concept of Freedom within the classroom is one of freedom within limits. Children are allowed to work freely so long as they do not disturb others. Having the freedom to follow their interests, the children are generally happy and busily involved with their work.
Dr. Maria Montessori outlined various periods of “sensitivity.” During these times, children are more capable of and interested in learning specific concepts. At age 2 ½ -3, a special sense of order, concentration, co-ordination, and independence begin to emerge. This time is ideal to begin children’s training in Montessori, as it is the perfect period to build strong foundations for future learning.
Children who have been in a Montessori environment are generally very flexible and adjust quite easily to the public school setting. They are generally better students and spend their time in more productive ways because of their self-direction and positive attitude towards learning.
Socialization is very much a part of the Montessori method. In the classroom, you will notice children interacting continuously, choosing to work on projects together with older children to help younger ones. Each day, there is some group activity and outside play.
The Montessori method is an “approach to learning” and as such, has no distinction of class or intelligence. It has been used successfully in all parts of the world and in all types of programs (i.e. Head Start, gifted programs, special needs, etc.
Tuition in an accredited Montessori preschool is sometimes higher than other preschools because of the extensive materials, encompassing environment, curriculum, and trained staff. It is, however, a very reasonable cost in contrast to other activities you would plan for yourself and your children. It becomes a matter of what you value most. To give your children the finest possible experience in their most sensitive years, is to give them a strong foundation throughout their lives and potentially prevent later investment to correct or remediate problems. Many educators believe that it is wiser to invest in children’s preschool education than in their college education. The children who enjoy learning and become self-directed at the critical preschool age will benefit through all their years of learning.
At EMS, the regular program begins in September, and continues through June. A special summer day camp runs for eight weeks each summer and is a great way to transition a child into the regular school year.
Montessori is not a static or closed system of education. While there are certain materials and methods that have been proven effective during the years, Montessori is as much an attitude about education and children as it is a specific method. We have complemented our program in many ways to accommodate and prepare our children for today’s world. The appropriate use of technology is one example.
We encourage parent involvement through conferences, observations, discussions etc. The staff believe that the more parents understand the experience of the children in the classroom, the better able they are to follow through at home. When parents follow through at home, the children benefits even more because they have a consistent environment in which to grow.
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