The Montessori Method was developed by Maria Montessori in the early 20th century. Maria Montessori was a physician dedicated to the care of young children. Through careful and deliberate observation, Dr. Montessori began to understand the unique construction of the young mind. Through her experience in psychology and education, she developed a dynamic method of directing young children.
The Montessori pedagogy was developed through careful construction of the prepared environment. Children are introduced to an environment specifically suited to their developmental needs and provided the freedom to explore in the manner most natural to them. This is referred to as “the child’s true and normal nature”. In this environment the teacher allows the child to direct and utilize their natural intuitions and exploration.
The environment is a crucial concept of the Montessori philosophy. The environment includes the experiences the child gains in the classroom, the home, in nature, and in the global society.
The following concepts are major components of the Montessori philosophy:
- Inner guidance of nature– children are guided by an inherent internal locus of control.
- Freedom for self-directed learning– children are encouraged to follow their innate interests.
- The Prepared Environment– the classroom is prepared in a manner that is most conducive to freedom, independence, and positive stimulation for self-directed learning.
- Normalization-this process is best observed in children between the ages of birth and six years of age. This involves the success children feel after they have accomplished a self-directed task in an environment suited to their needs. This heightens the overall learning process for the individual child.
- The Absorbent Mind-children are sponges when placed in an appropriate environment. The human brain is constantly working to put information in a context of understood experiences. When information is questioned, analyzed, and assimilated; true learning has occurred.
- Multi-Age Grouping- Typical Montessori classrooms are heterogeneous and incorporate a three-year age span. This approach builds community, social development, and peer modeling.
Maria Montessori: Her Life and Work, E.M. Standing , Publ. Plume, 1998.
American Montessori Society. AMS Position Paper: MultiAge Grouping.