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Montessori and Free Choice. By: Elizabeth Silva and Gaby Mena. Biography. Born in Ancona, Italy in 1970. Originally wanted to be an engineer. Wanted to enter medical school, and achieved to do so, even despite the head of the board’s dispute.

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montessori and free choice
Montessori and Free Choice

By: Elizabeth Silva and Gaby Mena

  • Born in Ancona, Italy in 1970.
  • Originally wanted to be an engineer.
  • Wanted to enter medical school, and achieved to do so, even despite the head of the board’s dispute.
  • Graduated from the university of Rome in 1896 as Italy’s first female physician.
  • Worked at psychiatric institution, orthophrenic school, and at the University of Rome before starting Casa dei Bambini in 1907.
  • Died 1952
montessori s theories
Montessori’s theories
  • Sensitive Periods
  • Free Choice
    • Child’s choices lead development
    • Structured choice
      • Constructive Activity
    • Limited choice
  • Materials
    • Correct size
    • Attractive
    • Gradual learning
surprising discovery
Surprising discovery
  • Concentration
    • Normalization
      • Good behavior
    • Self –regulation
our question
Our question
  • When given the choice to pick an academic activity, and allowed to work independently for 8—10 minutes, will children be less willing to take a break than those whose academic activity is picked out for them?
h y p o t h e s i s
  • Yes. We believe that the children with free choice will be less likely to want a break than those whose academic activity is picked out for them.
research setting
Research setting
  • Holy Family of Nazareth
  • Wednesday 4 December 2013
  • 10:20 a.m.—12:00 p.m.
  • *5 tables
  • *12 Kindergarteners
  • * (6) Montessori materials
    • Circular animal puzzle
    • Bow-tying frame
    • A mystery bag
    • Moveable alphabet letters
    • Movable numbers with counters
    • Tangram shapes
what we did
What we did
  • Tested Montessori’s free choice theory in the following way:
    • We worked with three groups of children at different times. The first group had 5 children, the second had 4, and the last group had 3 (12 children total).
    • First we asked the children 2 pre-questions.
    • Then the child was either assigned a Montessori task to complete or given the freedom to choose one.
    • We gave them about 10 minutes to work independently & recorded their activity.
    • We asked them in between the time limit if they wanted to take a break from their work & recorded their response.
    • Then we asked them 3 post-questions & allowed them to go back to their classroom.
pre questions
Pre questions
  • 1. What do you like most in school? What’s your favorite thing to do? Do you like reading and writing? Math?
  • 2. What kind of toys do you like?
post questions
Post questions
  • *Would you like to take a break?
  • Why did you/ did you not want to take a break?
  • Did you like your activity?
  • Based on our data, our hypothesis was proved:children with free choice are less willing to take a break than those who were assigned an activity.
  • Children who got to choose their activity were more concentrated on their work. More likely to say that they were “done” if they did take a break. (which fulfills what Montessori says about individual work: that when children are satisfied with their work they will stop on their own.)
  • Children who were assigned an activity were distracted and got bored easily. Most of them took a break (4/6).

How could we improve this study?

  • We were only able to work with 1 kindergarten class, when we initially wanted 2.
  • Some children wanted to work on the same things.
  • Not sure how honest the children really were.
  • Amount of time (perhaps).
  • Experiment with one child at a time to prevent more than one child wanting to work with the same thing.
  • Could have employed randomization.
  • Furthermore, hide the extra materials when we needed to assign only one of them to a child.
works cited
Works cited
  • Theories of Development by William Crain
  • The Montessori Controversy by John Chattin McNichols
  • Maria Montessori, Her Life and Work by E.M. Standing.
  • The Discovery of the Child by Maria Montessori
  • The Absorbent Mind by Maria Montessori
  • Montessori, The Science Behind the Genius by Angeline Lillard