Exercises of Practical Life
Dr. Maria Montessori founded the Montessori Method in Italy in the early 1900s, and her scientific approach to education was shaped around the individual needs of the child. Her goal was to develop the child, and their whole personality through a system that is focused on spontaneous use of the human intellect.
Built on three primary principles - observation, individual liberty, and preparation of the environment - it designed an environment children could freely choose from a number of developmentally appropriate activities.
The method is focused on the role of childhood in the formation of adults; she is a formidable progenitor of so much of today's thought concerning early childhood education. Her educational views have been very influential in the development of today's preschools, daycares, and philosophies of early learning.
For Montessori, education is integral to the growth of the child. At the same time, it's important to note that the philosophy is not restricted to education.
It isn't easy to spot the teacher in the classroom. There's no grown-up at the front spouting facts. But if you look closely, you'll notice someone moving among the students, gently making suggestions, helping children to teach themselves.
This is the heart of what Dr. Montessori believed – that another could teach no human being; that you must learn for yourself or it won't mean a thing. In the classroom, children get up and move around and let curiosity be their guide. What a novel approach!
And because she believed “the hand is the chief teacher of the brain”, students most often learn by touch – by handling specially designed materials such as golden math beads, sandpaper letters, and wooden maps of the world. The teacher's job is to show children how to use these materials – then leave them to learn independently.
From watching how effortlessly a child learns to speak, or walk, Montessori concluded that a young child's mind is like a sponge – she called it “the absorbent mind”. And because it is so absorbent, she called the first six years "the most important period of life; the time when intelligence, man's greatest tool, is being formed".
As a result, classrooms often expose children to challenging concepts, earlier than the public-school system does. And they seem to grasp such concepts with the help of special materials. It is through such creative elements of the classroom that the gifted Italian educator continues to promote “the excitement of learning” in new generations of children.
The Montessori Method
Teaching focuses on the child's experience, characterized by self-directed activity, where the teacher's role is more observational than what might be considered traditional or typical.
The teacher is sometimes called a guide in the Montessori philosophy. The environment is adapted to the child and his or her development. Seatwork, as you'd find in your typical public school classroom, plays a less significant role in favor of physical activity and interaction. Emphasis on how students learn is placed on all five senses, not just listening, watching, or reading, like students in a traditional-style classroom, may learn.
Children, from preschool on up, learn at their own pace and how they wish to learn – teachers do not guide students to learn certain things but allow students to make the choices themselves with added support.
How the Montessori Method Work?
The Montessori Method is characterized by providing a prepared environment: tidy, pleasing in appearance, simple and real, where each element exists for a reason in order to help in the development of the child. A Montessori classroom integrates children of mixed ages that are grouped in periods of 3 years
Education of the senses
Dr. Montessori categorized the sensorial exercises into eight groups: Visual, Tactile, Baric, Thermic, Auditory, Olfactory, Gustatory and Stereognostic. Through the use of Sensorial materials children learn to classify things around them by texture, shape, size, colour, loudness, softness, weight and temperature.
Senses are exercised in isolation by use of blindfold or closing their eyes. Sensory impressions and muscular memory are developed through these, and other activities/experiences in both the indoor and outdoor learning environments. Many of the Sensorial materials are mathematical in nature and are indirectly preparing children for learning in mathematics – such as geometry, size and volume, and the binomial algebraic formula.
Montessori Language exercises help to build vocabulary, internalize the formation of lower-case letters through use of their tactile sense, phonological awareness, build words using a moveable wooden alphabet, and finally writing with a pencil and reading. Practical Life exercises indirectly prepare the child for writing – strengthening their pincer grasp for later pencil grip, and developing muscular memory in later letter formation.
Through exercises of Geography and Culture the child learns about themselves in relation to the world. Children learn about the earth and space, the elements, and about countries, rituals, celebrations, music, art, food and language. At River Heights Early Learning Centre families are encouraged to participate in our cultural explorations by lending your time and/or your family's own cultural artifacts to help us learn about and celebrate each other.
Science & workshop
Dr. Montessori believed that children are scientists wanting to explore and learn everything about their world. Exercises in zoology, botany and physics provoke children to ask questions and conduct experiments; encouraging a sense of wonder at the grandeur of the universe, and the miracle of life in nurturing a plant's growth from a seed.