The Montessori method of teaching is a pedagogical tool for imparting education to children. Developed by an Italian Physician Dr. Maria Montessori in the year 1907, this autonomous method of teaching and learning encourages children to become self-dependent and confident.
The Montessori method of teaching uses materials that were specially developed by Dr. Montessori to provide auto-didactic development. The children in Montessori schools are provided with objects which help in cognitive and visual stimulation.
Dr. Maria Montessori with the intense observation of human behavior developed a method that took every aspect of child development into account. This method included Physical, Psychological, and Social principles that provide holistic development.
Dr. Montessori also observed that children of different ages go through distinct and noticeable psychological, physical as well as intellectual changes. The Understanding of universal characteristics of human tendencies helped Montessori develop a well-structured pedagogical system that focuses on every aspect of child development.
The Montessori method focuses on three main aspects of learning – Practical, Sensory, Formal skills and studies.
Montessori education provides the children with the opportunity to help them reach their full potential. The curriculum and environment of Montessori schools encourage the child to venture out of their comfort zone. The curriculum in a Montessori school includes language, mathematical skills as well the study of plants and animals that helps in the holistic development of the child.
Montessori method of teaching is structured, systematic, and child-centered. It gives pupils an opportunity to learn at their own pace. The Montessori method of teaching is based on the following principles.
Principles of Montessori Education
- Principle of Absorbent Mind :
According to Dr. Montessori the first six years of the child’s life are the crucial period for growth and development. The mind of the child during the first six years is “absorbent” and receptive to sensorial stimulation. The child during this stage is likely to absorb the information from the surroundings. It is important to focus on stimuli that develop the child’s understanding of culture, knowledge, and world.
- Principle of Respecting the Child :
It is important to be considerate of every child’s uniqueness and individual needs. The teacher should act as a guide and provide children with an appropriate environment and materials to unfold their inner potentialities. The teacher should be respectful towards the children during the education process.
- Principle of Individual development :
Every child has different skill sets and unique ways to exhibit their inner potentialities. Montessori schools understand this and provide individualized learning activities and curriculum for children to learn at their own pace.
- Principle of Intrinsic rewarding and non-punishing system :
Maria Montessori was a firm believer in learning by experience. According to her, no rewards or punishments should be used to force the process of learning. The child should be intrinsically motivated to work on their own.
- Principle of Sensitive Period :
According to Dr. Montessori there are specific stages that the child passes through during the development process. In these stages of development, the child can show signs of intense concentration, commitment, focus, and repetition. The child becomes more susceptible to learn specific skills and information during the specific stages of development. These stages of intense focus and concentration were termed as “Sensitive Periods”.
- Principle of Auto learning :
Dr. Montessori believed that children have the capability of self-directed learning. Auto-education is implemented for learners when they are left free to learn and exert efforts by themselves.
- Principle of Prepared Environment: The Montessori classroom is a prepared environment where children can participate in activities of their choice. The prepared environment of the Montessori classroom provides materials for activities and new and exciting experiences for the children. The prepared environment in the classroom develops a sense of order and structure during the learning process.
- Principle of Sensory training :
It is important for young children to learn through their senses. According to Maria Montessori sensory training is essential for the learning process. The pupils learn better when they are given the opportunity to feel, see, hear, touch, smell, and taste.
- Principle of Motor training :
Maria Montessori believed that motor activities played an important role in the education of the child. The curriculum involves a series of physical activities, exercises, and kinesthetics that help in the development of muscles and improves muscle memory.
- Principle of Development from within :
The children in Montessori schools become educated on the basis of their own natural curiosity. The school should provide children with an appropriate environment and materials to unfold their inner potentialities.
Maria Montessori’s Basic Philosophy and Ideas:
Dr. Maria Montessori was a visionary who single-handedly revolutionized the education system. She created the pedagogical tool on the basis of the following ideas and philosophy.
- She believed that education must aid in the complete unfolding of the child’s inner potentialities and individuality.
- Montessori did not support the reward system. She believed that material rewards and incentives are external forces that hinder the natural growing process of the child. She believed that development should come from within.
- She did not support collective classroom teaching. She knew the importance of individuality amongst children. She treated each child in the classroom as a separate individual and stated that every child should be helped and guided in a proper manner.
- Montessori believed that self-education is true education. It is important to guide and help the child rather than making the child forcefully acquire information.
- Montessori believed that the first six years of the child’s life are the crucial period for growth and development.
- For Montessori, the senses are the gateway to knowledge. She pointed out that senses are most active during early childhood years.
- She believed that motor development and physical development play a significant role in early childhood education.
Concept of Children’s House:
Children’s house is a name given by Maria Montessori to schools for young children. The activities in the children’s house focus on the holistic development of the child.
Maria Montessori borrowed some ideas from Froebel and Seguin’s Kindergarten movement to develop her own materials.
The Montessori educational system and curriculum rely on these materials. The Materials are of three types:
- for the training of senses
- for practical skills
- the ones which help children to adapt according to the school’s requirements.
Physical activities, Social values, and basic manners are some important features of the Children’s house concept.
Role of the teacher:
Teachers in a Montessori school act as a guide or a director in the education process. The teacher is a facilitator and should always be ready to provide the children with the desired help.
- Teacher as a guide: the teacher should take care of the childlike a gardener takes care of plants. The teacher should allow the pupils to grow and learn on their own as well as provide proper guidance and direction to help the pupils move forward.
- Teacher as an observer: The teacher should observe the progress and actions of the children. The teacher should have intimate knowledge of each child in the class. She should maintain records of every child’s individual development including their weight, height, and other measurements.
- Teacher as a provider: The teacher should provide a proper environment for the education process. She has the responsibility to provide suitable materials and apparatus for imparting education to her students.
- Encouragement: The teacher should encourage the children to step out of their comfort zone. The teacher must provide the child with a prepared environment and give the child freedom of choice.
Every child should have an opportunity to become independent. The Montessori method of teaching gives children an opportunity to learn, explore, and experience at their own pace. The Montessori method of education is a pedagogical tool that provides the child with the proper environment, curriculum, activities, and materials to thrive. This self-directed child-centered method builds the child’s inner potentialities.