The Montessori Method
Montessori is a method of education named after Dr. Maria Montessori. She believed that education should prepare a person for all aspects of life. She designed materials and techniques that would promote a natural growth of learning in students. They are common to all Montessori classrooms. Working with these materials and techniques forms a pattern that children carry over naturally to reading, writing, and mathematics. Each skill is developed to interlock with another.
The child is naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a supportive, thoughtfully prepared learning environment. It is an approach that values the human spirit and the development of the whole child-physical, social, emotional, cognitive.
Montessori education offers our children opportunities to develop their potential as they step out into the world as engaged, competent, responsible, and respectful citizens with an understanding and appreciation that learning is for life.
The "absorbent mind" refers to the mind's capacity to take in information and sensations from the world that surrounds it.
Young children are a testament to the mind's awesome ability to absorb. A baby is born without language, and with few skills other than their survival instinct. From birth to three years they use their senses(hands, eyes, ears, nose, and tongue) to soak in everything that surrounds them. The child does this naturally, and without thought or choice. Maria Montessori reffered to the period as the 'unconscious creation'.
The information that the child unconsciously absorbs from his surroundings in the early years is used to constract and create himself/herself. Within a few short years a child is walking, talking, and able to feed himself. It is this awesome ability to absorb information that allows children to acquire the language, physical skills (walking, control of his hands), and control over his bodily functions that are necessary for future independence.
Around the age of three years, the child moves the state of the unconscious absorbent mind, to the state of conscious absorbent mind. It is during this conscious state of mind that the child begins to intentionally direct and focus his /her attention on experiences that will develop that which was created during the first three years.
The fundamental task of the child during this phase of conscious absorption (3-6 years) is intellectual development and freedom. His/Her mind compels him/her to sort through, order, and make sense of the information he/she unconsciously absorbed. It is through this order of his intelligence that the child gains the freedom to move purposely, to concentrate, and to choose his/her own direction.
"The 'absorbent mind' welcomes everything, puts its hope in everything, accepts poverty equally with wealth, adopts any religion and the prejudices and habits of its countrymen, incarnating all in itself. This is the child!" Maria Montessori
Materials of Montessori
Benefits of the Montessori Method
Each child is valued as a unique individual. Montessori education recognizes that children learn in different ways, and accommodates all learning styles. Students are also free to learn at their own pace, each advancing through the curriculum as he is ready, guided by the teacher and an individualized learning plan.
- Beginning at an early age, Montessori students develop order, co-ordination, concentration and independence. Classroom design, materials and daily routines support the individual's emerging "self-regulation"(ability to educate one's self, and to think about what one is learning), toddlers throught adolescents.
- Children become independent and self-motivated. Learning to take care of themselves and their environment is paramount. The lessons presented in each prepared environment are individualized to the child. The child then works at his pace to develop & master the necessary skills heshe needs before moving forward.
- Students are part of a close, caring community. The multi-age classroom - typically spanning 3 years - re-creates a family structure. Older students enjoy stature as mentors and role models; younger children feel supported and gain confidence about the challenges ahead. Teachers model respect, loving kindness, and a belief in peaceful conflict resolution.
- Montessori students enjoy freedom within limits. Working within parameters set by their teachers, students are active participants in deciding what their focus of learning will be. Montessorians understand that internal satisfaction drives the child's curiosity and interest and results in joyous learning that is sustainable over a lifetime.
- Students are supported in becoming active seekers of knowledge. Teachers provide environments where students have the freedom and the tools to pursue answers to their own questions.
- Children gain a desire to question the world around them. Montessori educators are taught not to intervene. Instead, the teacher allows himher to find the answer independently. Control of error is a key aspect to a majority of Montessori materials in an early childhood classroom. Control of error offers direct feedback to the child to enable him/her to discover the solution on his/her own. The child subsequently gains confidence and a desire to want to learn more about the materials and the world around him/her.
- Children learn to think creatively. They apply out-of-the-box reasoning to real life situations.
- Children embrace and open-mind and diversity.
- Cultural presentations and materials foster respect for others. Learning about others and appreciating our differences is a focus in Montessori classrooms.
- The benefits of a Montessori education begin at a young age, and, if fostered, can have far-reaching effects for the rest of the child's life."
Pitter Patter Montessori Program
At Pitter Patter Montessori we follow the Toddler Program.
This curriculum is to foster cognitive development, speech and language development, strengthen fine motor and gross motor skills, introduce grace and courtesy lessons, and promote independence.
10 Months to 18 Months Program
Each day we do a fine and gross motor activity, sensory fun and social activity like rhymes and singing.
3-5 Year Program
- Practical Life: These are activities that aim to the care of the person, of others and of the physical environment where they live in. These activities include tasks that are familiar to the child: washing, polishing , setting the table, arranging flowers, etc. They also include activities of "grace and courtesy", which are part of all civilized people. Throught these and other activities, children achieve coordination and control of movement and exploration of his/her surroundings. Children learn to complete a task from beginning to end, they develop their will, self-discipline, the capacity of concentration and self-confidence.
- Sensorial: Children at this age learn through senses more than through their intellect. The sensorial materials are tools for children to refine each of their senses. Each material isolates a specific quality: smell, size, weight, texture, flavor, colour, etc. In the preschool age, when children are "bombarded" with sensorial information, these materials allow them to find order and meaning to the world, raising his/her capacity of perception, favoring observation and a sense of admiration for everything that surrounds him/her.
- Language: When the child enters and environment at age 3, they enrich the language that they had already acquired. They are capable of using it intelligently with precision and beauty, slowly realizing its properties. They learn to write, starting with their senses (hearing and touching). and as a natural consequence they learn to read. As an extension of language activities, children learn about geography, history, art and music. These areas help the child to know his/her surroundings and to realize the place the child occupies in this world. They teach him/her to respect and love for his/her environment, and they create a sense of solidarity with all humanity and his/her habitat.
- Mathematics: The materials help the child to learn and understand mathematic concepts when working with concrete materials that lead him/her intuitively to abstract concepts. They offer him/her sensorial impressions of the numbers and set the foundations for algebra and geometry.
The Montessori materials are beautiful and simple to use, guiding children through the Montessori curriculum, as they increase in complexity. Children are introduced to the Montessori materials by the Montessori educator, who will present the material to the child, and the invite the child to work with the material independently.
The Montessori materials are presented to the child in sequence, from easiest to hardest, in accordance with their developmental needs and interests, and within the context of the other materials that they will encounter as they progress through the Montessori Education Program.
Montessori material is designed with a visual control of error. This means that the child can easily see and correct their own mistakes because the pieces do not fit together, or there is a piece left out. This self-correction aspect also makes the materials auto-instructional. This means that the child can discover and master the outcomes of the material through repetition and practice, independent of an adult. As a result, Montessori students develop strong problem solving skills, resilence and concentration.
Montessori materials are also beneficial for building fine-motor skills in children. Maria Montessori understood fine motor development to be a crucial aspect of children's education because of its link to how children come to understand their world. Children learn through their hands. Incorporating both gross and fine motor skills is crucial to a balanced approach to each childhood education that incorporates the social, physical, mental and emotional aspects of child development so many Montessori materials encourage the development of these skills from a young age by allowing children to experience learning through their senses, the Montessori materials teach children to become independent, self-motivated learners, with the skills to thrive.