Dr Maria Montessori believed that no human being is educated by another person. She must do it herself or it will never be done. A truly educated individual
continues learning after the hours and years she spends in the classroom because a natural curiosity and love for knowledge motivates her from within. Dr
Montessori felt, therefore, that the goal of early childhood education should not be to fill the child with facts from a pre-selected course of studies, but
rather to cultivate her own natural desire to learn.
In the Montessori classroom this objective is approached in two ways, by allowing each child to experience the excitement of learning by her own choice rather
than being forced. Second, by helping her to reflect all her natural tools for learning, so that her ability will be at maximum in future learning situations.
The Montessori materials have this dual long-range purpose in addition to their immediate purpose of giving specific information to the child.
Another observation of Dr Montessori's that has been reinforced by modern research is the importance of the sensitive periods for the early learning. These are
periods of intense fascinations for learning a particular characteristic or skill. Such as going up and down steps, putting things in order, counting or
reading. It is easier for the child to learn a particular skill during the corresponding sensitive period than at any other time in her life. The Montessori
classroom takes advantage of this fact by allowing the child freedom to select individual activities, which correspond to her own periods of interest.
The Montessori Classroom is indeed a child's world, geared to the size, the pace and interest of boys and girls. It is designed to put the child at ease by
giving his the freedom in a environment prepared with attractive materials. These materials are arranged on low shelves with easy reach of even the smallest
child. The tables and chairs in the classroom are moveable, permitting a flexible arrangement for many activities. The children also work on small mats on the
floor where they are naturally comfortable. The Montessori materials are divided into three groups:
These await each child's moment of interest in reading, arithmetic and geography. The role of the teacher or Directress is to observe the interests and needs of
the child. She demonstrates the correct use of the materials. She is trained to recognise the child's sensitive periods. She allows the child to discover his
own mistakes through further manipulation of the self-correcting materials. She must encourage a child who is hesitant and divert a chid who chooses materials
beyond his ability.
- The Practical Life Exercises
- The Sensorial Materials
- The Academic Materials
The Montessori classroom offers the opportunity from a wide variety of graded materials. Having children ages 18 months through to three years, three to six
years, six to nine, nine to twelve years together in a 3 year cycle, permits the younger child a graded series of models for imitation and the older ones an
opportunity to reinforce their own knowledge by helping the younger ones.