The Montessori Philosophy:
Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952) became the first woman to be granted a medical degree from the University of Rome. Her interest in education came from working with and observing underprivileged children. Through experimentation and close observation of the children’s responses, she began teaching them through the use of a variety of manipulative equipment. Dr. Montessori identified six sensitive periods which refer to a period of time when a child’s interests are focused on developing a particular skill or knowledge area. Montessori education is a model of human development. From her experiences and observations, Dr. Montessori concluded that given a carefully prepared environment, unique teaching materials and, a director/ess to guide the child children become self-directed and independent in their lifelong quest for knowledge and learning. The classroom director/ess is the link between the child and the environment. The Montessori motto is “help me to do it by myself.”
The prepared environment is the cornerstone of the Montessori method. It invites exploration and leads the child naturally from the concrete to the abstract. A calm, well-ordered environment has a lot of movement and activity. Children are free to choose and work on activities at their own pace; with guidance from the director/ess. They experience a combination of freedom and self-discipline, as guided by the environment. There are generally six principles to the Prepared Environment: Freedom; Structure and Order; Beauty; Nature and Reality; Social Environment; Intellectual Environment.
The Montessori Classroom:
*Since Montessori is a word in the public domain, it is possible for any individual or institution to claim to be Montessori. An authentic Montessori classroom must have the following basic characteristics at all levels:
1. Atmosphere: A classroom atmosphere which encourages social interaction for cooperative learning, peer teaching, and emotional development.
2. Work-cycle: A schedule which allows large blocks of time to problem-solve, to see connections in knowledge and to create new ideas.
3. Prepared Environment: A diverse set of Montessori materials, activities, and experiences which are designed to foster physical, intellectual, creative, social, and personal independence.
4. Community: A partnership established with the family. The family is considered an integral part of the individual’s total development.
5. Directresses: Teachers and Early Childhood Educators trained in the Montessori philosophy and the methodology for the age level they are teaching, who have the ability and dedication to put the key concepts into practice.
6. Mentor/Mentorship: A multi-aged, multi-graded heterogeneous grouping of students.
At MMS children are exposed to many complex concepts at an early age through the use of the specially designed Montessori materials. These hands-on learning materials enable the child to literally see and explore abstract concepts. Montessori materials are sensory-based learning tools that are designed to isolate one skill or concept. The materials encourage hands-on learning, independent problem solving, and analytical thinking. Each Montessori material is designed with a visual control of error, so children are able to self-correct. Montessori materials are designed to provide instant feedback, allowing the child to recognize, correct and learn from his/her mistakes without the assistance of an adult. Control of error in the materials aids the child’s independence, self-esteem, self-motivation, and self-discipline, as well as, their ability to analyze and solve problems.
Montessori in the Home:
It is inherent in the Montessori philosophy of education that there is a continuum between the home and the school. For a child to enjoy the full benefits of a Montessori education, the home environment should incorporate the Montessori philosophy. MMS will assist parents in self-education. The director/ess can answer your questions or refer you to resources that are helpful. The school also has parent education evenings during the year. These evenings are designed to give interested parents a chance to learn more about Montessori education and generally focus on one aspect of the philosophy or the materials.