Montessori: An Overview
Montessori is a comprehensive educational approach from birth to adulthood based on Dr. Maria Montessori's observations of children's needs and her understanding of children's natural tendencies as they unfold in a "prepared environment."
The Montessori "prepared environment" contains specially designed materials for development. Under the guidance of a trained teacher, children in a Montessori classroom learn by making discoveries with these materials, cultivating concentration, motivation, self-discovery and a love of learning.
Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) was founded by Maria Montessori in 1929. The association maintains Montessori education principles.
Montessori Planes of Development
Dr. Montessori divided human development into four stages of development, each having its own ideal conditions for learning and growth.
First stage: Infancy, 0-6 years of age, is a period of dramatic growth and transformation. Emphasis is on the physical growth and independence, the concrete world and the construction of the self as the center of things in a sensory-motor, factual, protected environment.
Second stage: Childhood, 6-12 years of age, is a period of relative stability. Emphasis is on intellectual growth and independence, reasoning, moving from concrete understanding to abstract thinking, imagination, culture, research, and on seeing the self in relation to peers.
Third stage: Adolescence, 12 – 18 years of age, is another period of tremendous growth and maturation. Emphasis is on learning through creative problem solving and critical thinking. Adolescents engage in meaningful work in a community to build and create meaningful intellect.
Fourth stage: Adulthood, 18-24 and beyond, is characterized by the construction of the spiritual self. Young adults are in the process of conscious discernment of right and wrong, seeking to discover their place within the world.
In order to aid the child’s seeking to perfect himself during these different stages, certain standards frame our work.
- The class is guided by a teacher who is trained not only in regards to the content of the curriculum, but also in regards to the characteristics by which the child is driven.
- Limited materials are made available which correspond to the child’s need for acquisition of culture.
- Children work in multi-age groupings, fostering cooperative learning, social skills, and a sense of belonging.
- Classes must have an appropriate number of children to insure social development. Children love to see others at work, igniting their own enthusiasm and interests.
- Children need prolonged uninterrupted work periods to support their growth and development. A natural work cycle thus evolves, helping the child develop equilibrium and time for imaging, inspiring, and thinking.