Dr. Maria Montessori • Medical Doctor • Scientist • Anthropologist • Philosopher • Pedagog • Teacher • Mother
Dr. Montessori discovered the child’s true nature in 1907 by observing poor young children living in very difficult social conditions. In this first Children’s House experiment in Rome, Italy, she found the combination of extreme poverty, parental ignorance and untrained teachers.
The Montessori Classroom • Spacious • Organised • Freedom • Child Sized • Designated Areas • No Teacher’s Desk • No Formal Lessons • Mixed Age Groups • No Text Books
AREAS OF LEARNING SENSORIAL • Visual Sense • Tactile Sense • Thermic Sense • Auditory Sense • Olfactory Sense • Gustatory Sense • Stereognostic Sense
Practical Life Preliminary Exercises Care Of The Person Care Of The Environment Grace And Courtesy Control Of Movement
LANGUAGE • Oral Language • Written Language • Handwriting • Reading • Total Reading • Reading Analysis • Cultural Work
Mathematics • Numbers Through Ten • Decimal System • Linear And Skip Counting • Tables Of Arithmetic • Passage To Abstraction • Fractions
Children’s House Sensorial Language Practical Life Cultural Math Using their hierarchy, the “Superordinate level” denotes the broad category, the “basic level” describes a group category and subordinate categories are specific exemplars. In other words, (broad) ANIMALS (basic) DOG (subordinate) German shepherd or poodle. In the Montessori classroom, the Superordinate Categories are: Practical Life, Sensorial, Math, Language and Cultural.
Children’s House Sensorial Letter recognition/ Language Handwriting The five senses Attributes of geometry Word building/ grammar Care of indoors PracticalLife Care of the person Care of outdoors Math Mathematics Cultural Cultural Cultural + - x / sq- cubes 1-10, 1- 9,999 Arts, Sciences Arts, Sciences Cultures, Time Cultures, Time Properties/ frac On the shelves in each level, are their “basic” categories. Lessons for the Five Senses can be found on the Sensorial shelf, for example.
With all of those materials available to students, one might think the classroom would cluttered or over-stimulating. But instead, the classrooms are very homelike and quite cozy. There is a place for everything, and everything in its place!
Children need organized learning environments and educational materials that provide enriching meaningful experiences to support their cognitive development.
Each lesson leads to another in a spiral of learning, with the curriculum building carefully over time.
We call the large masses of land “continents.” We call the large bodies of water “oceans” Our earth has LAND and WATER, and is surrounded by a blanket of air We can learn the names of the continents and oceans.
The Montessori approach to education has three key components 1. The child; 2. The favourable environment; 3. The teacher The relationship between the child, the environment and the teacher are constantly evolving and developing because it is based on observation of the child. Montessori believed that children develop in stages or planes and that each stage has its own unique qualities and characteristics. 1. The absorbent mind – conception to six (birth to three: unconscious absorbent mind; three to six: conscious absorbent mind); 2. Childhood – six to twelve (considered to be calm and conducive to learning); 3. Adolescence – twelve to eighteen (twelve to fifteen is as unpredictable as the first stage).
There are six sensitive periods • 1. Order • 2. Movement • 3. Small details • 4. Language • 5. Refinement of the senses • 6. The social aspects of life • It is the manifestations of the sensitive periods on which the prime carer or teacher should focus as they observe, so that they can provide appropriate learning opportunities for the child. • Montessori saw the environment as a key factor in children’s spontaneous learning.
Foundation Phase Areas of Learning Seven areas of learning have been identified to describe the Foundation Phase. These must complement each other and all work together to provide a practical relevant curriculum for 3 to 7 year olds. Emphasis is placed on developing children’s skills across all the areas of learning. The Seven areas of learning are:
1. Creative Development - This area of learning focuses on developing imagination and creativity. Their natural curiosity and disposition to learn is stimulated by everyday sensory experiences. • 2. Physical Development - Enthusiasm and energy for movement is continually promoted through helping children to use their bodies effectively. Spatial awareness, balance, control and co-ordination are encouraged to develop motor and manipulative skills. • 3. Knowledge and Understanding of the world - Children will be given experiences that increase their curiosity about the world around them and to begin to understand past events, people and places, livings things and the work people do. • 4. Welsh Language Development - Welsh Language skills are developed through communicating in a range of enjoyable, practical planned activities and using a range of stimuli that build on children’s previous knowledge and experiences.
5. Mathematical Development - Children will use numbers in their daily activities and develop a range of flexible methods for working mentally with numbers. They will then move onto using more formal methods of working and recording when they are developmentally ready. • 6. Language Literacy and Communication Skills – Theseskills will be developed through talking, signing, communicating and listening. Children will be encouraged to communicate their needs, feelings and thoughts and retell their experiences 7. Personal and Social Development, Well-Being and Cultural Diversity - This area of learning focuses on children learning about themselves, their relationships with other children and adults.
Montessori Within The Foundation Phase • The Montessori method fulfills all of the requirements for each of the seven areas of learning. The Guide to the Early Years Foundation Stage in Montessori settings (Appendix 4) shows how the Montessori approach to planning, to the areas of learning and to assessment meets the requirements of the EYFS in England and the Foundation Phase in Wales without compromising Montessorian principles. The Foundation Phase supports these Montessori approaches, which we have used for over a hundred years, and we can demonstrate how this supports the requirements. Given that the EYFS and the Foundation Phase in Wales are almost identical apart from the omission of the area on Welsh Language Development, I would assert that the guide is appropriate as an example of how the Montessori method of education conforms to the Foundation Phase in Wales. • Furthermore the following four themes and principles guide all early years practitioners working with children. They are closely linked with the Government’s agenda for children as set out in Every Child Matters, www.everychildmatters.gov.uk. • The following text offers a Montessori perspective on these principles:
1. A Unique Child Every child is a competent learner from birth who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured. Montessori perspective: within each child lies a hidden potential. For this potential to be unlocked we need to give children the opportunities to develop trust and autonomy, which will nurture confidence, self-esteem and courage. The ability to embrace new challenges, take risks and act with initiative is a natural outcome of these conditions and underpins the principles of the ‘unique child’. Montessori saw freedom as the single most important factor in allowing children to develop as spontaneous, creative individuals. ‘This fashioning of the human personality is a secret work… All that we know is that he has the highest potentialities, but we do not know what he will be. He must ‘become incarnate’ with the help of his own will.’ (Montessori, 1966, 32)
2. Positive Relationships Children learn to be strong and independent from a base of loving and secure relationships with parents and/or a key person. Montessori perspective: the parents are the child’s first educators and need to be respected. A partnership with parents gives children opportunities to develop their full potential and become unique, strong and autonomous individuals with consideration for themselves and others. ‘Little children between three and six years of age have a special psychology. They are full of love. They are only without love if they are ill treated. If they are badly treated their real nature is altered. They are full of love themselves and need to be loved in order to grow.’ (Montessori, 1989, p. 41)
3. Enabling Environments The environment plays a key role in supporting and extending children’s development and learning. Montessori perspective: a favourable environment, which supports the child’s self-construction, is carefully prepared by knowledgeable practitioners, ensuring that children’s developmental needs are met. This is further explained in the Absorbent Mind (1949) and is linked with Montessori’s view of human tendencies, stages of development and sensitive periods. While the Montessori legacy of specific learning materials is strong and will be key in preparing enabling environments, it is also creative and forward-thinking to include other materials in the environment to meet the individual needs and interests of children, provided these are used in such a way as to support the essential principles and philosophy of the Montessori approach. ‘In an open environment, that is, one that is suitable to his age, a child’s psychic life should develop naturally and reveal its inner secret.’ (Montessori, 1966, p. 110)
4. Learning and Development Children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates, and all areas of learning and development are equally important and inter-connected. Montessori perspective: not just being a particular way of learning and development, more importantly Montessori principles are concerned with the development of the whole personality, seeing it as the foundation on which everything which follows will be built. Children are active learners and will learn from the environment if it offers appropriate stimuli to their development. Learning is guided by the children’s developmental needs, and flourishes when the children are given time and space to observe, explore and investigate the environment and engage with it. Empathetic practitioners play an active part in engaging children with the favourable environment. They facilitate the child’s need to learn, not only from them, but also from peers and by themselves.
… it aims, in short, at a total development of the personality; a harmonious growth of all the potentialities of the child, physical and mental, according to the law of its being.’ (Montessori, 1965, p141) ‘The child who concentrates is immensely happy; he ignores his neighbours or the visitors circulating about him. For the time being his spirit is like that of a hermit in the desert; a new consciousness has been born in him – that of his own individuality.’ (Montessori, 1949, p. 273)
Each child has multiple intelligences that help one understand the world. Each of the intelligences must be explored and learned. There is no such thing as a fixed and predetermined IQ. There are also different learning styles, which we all must recognize and understand.
Intelligence Linguistic Logical/Mathematical Spatial/Visual Bodily/Kinesthetic Musical Naturalist Intrapersonal Interpersonal Characteristics Play with words, enjoys stories, interest in sounds of language (phonics) Exploration of patterns, counting, reasoning, problem solving Visualization of concepts Strong motor skills and coordination. Learning through movement Ability to produce and appreciate pitch, rhythm. Understanding of musical expressiveness Classification of living things – plants, animals, features of the natural world Understanding of one’s self, ability to discriminate and act on one’s feelings Ability to understand others and work well together. Availability of leadership roles Montessori Representation LANGUAGE AREA: Sandpaper letters, moveable alphabet, insets for design, stories, writing SENSORIAL/MATHS AREA: Knobless cylinders, solid cylinders, PRACTICAL LIFE: Order in the environment. Specific place for each material ALLL AREAS OF CLASSROOM & OUTDOORS CURRICULUM: MUSIC AREA: Montessori bells, songs, rhymes, music specialists GEOGRAPHY & BIOLOGY AREA: Geography and social studies curriculum, care of indoor and outdoor environment Respect of personal spaces, ability to choose to work alone Montessori’s Response To Gardener’s Theory Of Multiple Intelligence adapted by A Evans
The root of the problem, as I see it, does not reside in education per se, but rather in by-now-strongly-established social relations between children and adults, pupils and teachers. Reflecting on my own experience as a student and later on as a teacher, I realize now that adults generally fail to view a child as a unique human being gifted with reason and logic and capable of self-directed intellectual development.
In conclusion, one could argue that Montessori is beginning this century as she did at the start of the nineteenth century. Her ideas and pedagogy are being revisited, validated and included in the challenge to the contemporary construction and conceptualization of childhood. Montessori’s principles could be seen as pre-empting concepts and thinking that are considered ‘cutting edge’ today; principles that place a child’s wellbeing as central to her or his experience.
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Montessori Education Film http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OM1Gu9KXVkk