Education is more than academic excellence or acquisition of knowledge,
it is an aid to life itself.
The Montessori method is based on the research and experiences of Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori (1870–1952).
It is an attitude towards learning rather than an approach to child education. It is the way one views, observes and understands the child and his unique aptitude for self-education.
The child has an inborn natural need to educate himself. Montessori shows us the way to ‘teach’ the child how to educate himself without depriving him of the joy of discovery. Education – being an aid to life – needs to be in harmony with the child’s natural development.
A primary principle behind the Montessori method is that the child, not the adult educator, is the constructor of man and society. The child craves the opportunity to act freely on his own initiative in a free (but prepared) environment.
The role of the teacher (sometimes called director, directress, or guide) is therefore, to watch over the environment to remove any obstacles that would interfere with this natural development.
The teacher’s role of observation includes interactions with children, commonly referred to as « lessons », and showing children how to use the various self-teaching materials that are provided in the environment.
- Inner guidance of nature. All children have inherent inner directives from nature that guide their true natural development.
- Freedom for self-directed learning. The Montessori method respects individual liberty of children to choose their own activities.
- Planes of development. The natural development of children proceeds through several distinct planes of development.
The first plane (ages 0-6) involves basic personality formation and learning through physical senses.
- Prepared environment. The right conditions around children allow for and support their true natural development.
For young children, the environment must be prepared by providing a range of physical objects for free independent use, to stimulate their natural instincts and interests for self-directed learning.
- Observation and indirect teaching. The teacher’s role is to observe children engaged in activities that follow their own natural interests; indirect teaching to control the environment, not the child.
- Normalization. During the 0-6 years old plane of development, children have the ability to shift their fundamental being from the condition of disorder and inattention to showing spontaneous self-discipline, independence, love of order, and complete harmony and peace with others in the social situation.
- Absorbent mind. The young child (0-6years old) has an absorbent mind which naturally incorporates experiences in the environment directly into its whole basic character and personality for life.
- Work, not play. Children develop through spontaneous experiences on the environment, which Dr.Montessori referred to as ‘work’.
- Multi-age grouping. Children learn from each other in a spontaneous manner that supports their independent self-directed activity.
The ordinary Montessori classroom therefore consists of a mixed-aged group, such as 3-6 years old.