A. Montessori (pronounced MON-tuh-SORE-ee) education was founded in 1907 by Dr. Maria Montessori, the first woman in Italy to become a physician. She based her educational methods on scientific observation of children's learning processes. Guided by her discovery that children teach themselves, Dr. Montessori designed a "prepared environment" in which children could freely choose from a number of developmentally appropriate activities. Now, nearly a century after Maria Montessori's first casa dei bambini ("children's house") in Rome, Montessori education is found all over the world, spanning ages from birth to adolescence.
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A. Montessori emphasizes learning through all five senses, not just through listening, watching, or reading. Children in Montessori classes learn at their own, individual pace and according to their own choice of activities from hundreds of possibilities. Learning is an exciting process of discovery, leading to concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning. Montessori classes place children in three-year age groups (3-6, 6-9, 9-12, and so on), forming communities in which the older children spontaneously share their knowledge with the younger ones. Montessori represents an entirely different approach to education.
Ms. Martha Monahan, executive director of Northeast Montessori Institute, USA responding to questions from a Singapore Reporter.
A. Dr. Montessori believed that children pass through levels of obedience and that it is not something that is “instilled” in a child.
A Montessori teacher is a trained, skilled observer and knows each child very well. The goal is to understand what underlies a behaviour in a child and take positive steps to eliminate the causes for the behaviour. This is a very different approach to many discipline models which deal only with the behaviour itself.
Looking at the model of dealing with the superficial behaviour of the child, we see practices such as time out, scolding, humiliation, spanking and in some cases physical abuse. What exactly is this teaching the child about their behaviour?
The Montessori approach involves a careful examination of the child’s personality and their behaviours and determining if there is a need in the child that is not being fulfilled. For example, many children act out for attention, to the child it does not matter if the attention is negative or positive, it is attention given by the adults important in their lives. Looking at it from this perspective, one could determine that the child only wants to be with the parent and when this does not happen, they find means to demand attention in the form of screaming, kicking, throwing tantrums, etc. The Montessori perspective would recognize that the child wants attention and provide them with positive interactions, while talking to them about their inappropriate behaviour and ways to get attention in a positive manner.
A. Children in a Montessori preschool or Kindergarten program are not graded. Montessori teachers track children’s progress through the curriculum areas and prepare lessons for curriculum presentations on an individual basis. Progress reports are written quarterly and parent conferences take place twice yearly.
A. Montessori education is a “hands on approach” to learning, which is known to be the most effective mode in educating young children.
Children are “sensorial explorers” and love to manipulative objects in their environments. Children learn through their senses, not through pen and paper tasks.
As preparation for learning to write and handle a writing instrument, the child is guided through a series of activities that strengthen the writing fingers and fine motor coordination.
Pen and paper tasks have a place in Montessori education for the child that is writing and reading and as a form of communication.
A. How Montessori education was designed to go through high school and there are schools throughout the world that follow this model. The key to the success of these schools is that the students have been Montessori students from a very young age and that their parents advocate for the continuation of this educational approach for their children.
Current research on how children learn best is actually very aligned with the Montessori philosophy. Research tells us that children learn best in environments where they are active participants in their learning, they are learning subjects of interest to them, that they learn for the sake of learning not for rewards and punishments.
These would require a careful review of the educational standards presently in place. With a strong foundation in Montessori Early Childhood, students would most definitely benefit from continuing their Montessori education into the elementary years.
A. Unfortunately no one body can accredit the Montessori element of schools, but there are several Montessori organizations to which schools can belong. The two major ones operating in the United States are the Association Montessori International (AMI, with a U.S. branch office called AMI-USA) and the American Montessori Society (AMS). Parents considering placing a child in a Montessori school should ask about the school's affiliation(s).
Parents must carefully research, and observe a classroom in operation, in order to choose a real Montessori school for their child.
A. I can give you three very incomplete answers to your perceptive questions:
These answers were provided by the Michael Olaf Montessori Company. For more information on the Montessori Method of Education in schools, the Montessori philosophy of raising children in the home, and toys, games, books and other educational materials compatible with this system of supporting the best development of children, go to the home page: www.michaelolaf.net
(Reference : www.michaelolaf.net/FAQMontessori.html)
A. Montessori is designed to help all children reach their fullest potential at their own unique pace. A classroom whose children have varying abilities is a community in which everyone learns from one another and everyone contributes. Moreover, multi-age grouping allows each child to find his or her own pace without feeling "ahead" or "behind" in relation to peers.
A. Research studies show that Montessori children are well prepared for later life academically, socially, and emotionally. In addition to scoring well on standardized tests, Montessori children are ranked above average on such criteria as following directions, turning in work on time, listening attentively, using basic skills, showing responsibility, asking provocative questions, showing enthusiasm for learning, and adapting to new situations.