What is Montessori
Montessori is a way of education that is based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play developed by Dr. Maria Montessori.
In Montessori classrooms children make creative choices in their learning. The teachers observe the children so that they are aware of when a child is ready to extend their learning. Following each child’s interests, presentations and materials are then prepared to challenge children to extend their learning. Children work in groups, individually or with a teacher.
Montessori classrooms are beautifully crafted environments designed to meet the needs of children in a specific age range. All activities are at the children’s height to encourage freedom of movement and choice. Maria Montessori discovered that the children developed a deeper understanding through this type of experiential learning. She found that happy self-motivated learners form positive images of themselves as confident, successful people.
Every material in a Montessori classroom supports an aspect of child development, creating a match between the child’s natural interests and the available activities. As every activity has a positive learning goal we can trust the child to follow their own instincts and make their own choices, so children are free to learn through their own experience and at their own pace.
The Montessori way marries seamlessly with the EYFS, the UK’s standard of education for the Early Years. In fact, the majority of teachers consulted to set the first EYFS curriculum were Montessori Teachers.
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Who was Maria Montessori
Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was a pioneer, a revolutionary figure in history and to this day the face of Montessori education. She was an Italian physician and anthropologist who devoted her life to understanding how children develop socially, intellectually, physically, and spiritually. Through her observations of children, she discovered universal patterns of development in all children.
Maria Montessori was one of the first women to be granted a diploma as a physician in Italy. After successfully directing a school in Rome for children with physical, mental and emotional challenges Maria given the responsibility of caring for a group of children in the Rome’s San Lorenzo slum district. Societies expectation of the outcomes for these children were low, but as Maria observed the children and their response to the environment, she saw them demonstrate capabilities and interests that exceeded her expectations.
Through her observation of the children Maria began to see the importance of a positive, nurturing environment that changes with the developmental needs of the child. The set of materials used in the Montessori environment were designed over a period of many years by Maria and her associates, creating a physical representation of the concepts and skills that children are naturally motivated to learn.
Maria Montessori was a visionary, not easily daunted by the many challenges she faced during her career. She travelled extensively, lecturing and teaching throughout Europe, India and in the United States. As she carried her vision around the world, she was recognized for her efforts by educators, psychologists and political leaders of the day.
Maria was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1949, 1950 and 1951 and continued working, teaching and writing up to the time of her death. Over the past one hundred years children throughout the world have benefited from this educational approach that supports, nurtures, and protects natural development. Maria Montessori’s legacy lives on in the children whose lives are touched by her discoveries about life.