Montessori is an approach to learning developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, the first woman medical doctor in Italy. She believed that a child’s mind from birth to six years of age was different from that of an adult’s. She called this the ‘absorbent mind stage’ of development, when children effortlessly soak in everything in their culture and their environment. What Dr. Montessori concluded based on 40 years of observation of children is now being supported and confirmed through modern brain research.
Montessori sought to develop the whole personality of the child and his faculties — the mind, senses, and character. Hers is a ‘whole child’ approach aimed at helping children reach their full potential in all areas of life, promoting the development of social skills, emotional growth, and physical coordination, as well as cognitive preparation for future academic endeavors. Montessori developed a holistic curriculum that allows the child to experience the joy of learning, the time to enjoy the process, and ensures the development of self esteem. She saw the education of children as a way to create a better society. Today her method of teaching is used all over the world.
This system of education is both a philosophy of child growth and a rationale for guiding this growth. It is based on the child’s developmental needs for freedom within limits. The Montessori classroom provides a carefully prepared environment which guarantees exposure to materials and experiences through which to develop intelligence as well as physical and psychological abilities. It is designed to take full advantage of the self-motivation and the unique ability of young children to develop their own capabilities. Children need adults to expose them to the possibilities of their lives, but the children themselves must direct their responses to those possibilities for them to fully embrace their achievements.
Children have a deep love and need for purposeful work. The child works, however, not as an adult for profit and completion of a job, but for the sake of the activity itself. It is this activity which accomplishes the most important goal for the child: the development of his/her mental, physical and psychological powers.
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