What is the Montessori Method?
The Montessori Method is a method of education founded by Dr. Maria Montessori who first formulated the method for children with learning and developmental disabilities. She later adapted her method for children with normal cognition and development. Based on what I understand, the Montessori Method creates a well-planned and structured environment where children can pursue areas of study of their interest. In other words, the child directs his own learning.
By allowing a child to lead, you tap into his potential for learning. Just as we find it easier to learn about things of interest to us, a child finds it easier to learn about subjects of interest to them. That's not to say they can't learn about another subject, it is just harder when his mind is not primed for it. Wiki gives a good explanation of this:
"That there are numerous "sensitive periods" of development (periods of a few weeks or even months), during which a child's mind is particularly open to learning specific skills or knowledge such as crawling, sitting, walking, talking, reading, counting, and various levels of social interaction. These skills are learned effortlessly and joyfully. Learning one of these skills outside of its corresponding sensitive period is certainly possible, but can be difficult and frustrating."
A typical Montessori environment encompasses the following:
- freedom of movement and freedom of choice for the children
- structure and order in the arrangement and sequence of the materials
- an atmosphere that is attractive, warm and inviting
- materials that provide active learning experiences
- vertical grouping (in the age ranges 2½ to 6 years, 6 to 9 years, 9 to 12 years, 12 to 15 years)
- a closeness to nature and the natural world and activities and materials that reflect the reality of life, not fantasy
Based on the Montessori philosophy, a child up to 6 years old requires physical materials that engage the senses to learn. Well, I think you can guess what Montessori teachers have to say about TV and computers for young children then. And if you can't, well, here it is:
"Television . . .Is an anti-experience and an anti-knowledge machine because it separates individuals from themselves and from the environment and makes them believe they are living while they are only observing passively what other people decide to make them see." - Dr. Silvana Montanaro, MD, Psychiatrist, Montessori Teacher-Trainer.
"The primary danger of the television screen lies not so much in the behavior it produces as the behavior it prevents... Turning on the television set can turn off the process that transforms children into adults." - Urie Bronfenbrenner, Professor of Human Development, Cornell University.
The Montessori Curriculum is broken down into the following categories:
- Practical Life
- Language and Literacy
- Cultural Subjects (which include Geography, History, Natural Sciences, Experimental Sciences)
- Creative Subjects (Art and Craft, Music and Movement, Drama)
However, a typical lesson can incorporate one or several of these categories depending on the direction the child chooses to take.
If you would like to learn more about the Montessori Method and how to implement it, try these links:
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