What is Montessori Education?
The Montessori Method of education is named after Italian doctor Maria Montessori who founded the method in 1906. Maria believed that children learnt best when they were able to discover things for themselves using their senses and in an environment that had been prepared for them. Maria spent much of her time observing children under the age of 6 years and she made the following conclusions which has formed the basis of what is the "Montessori Method". Dr Maria Montessori believed that there are two major principles basic to a child's development ages 3-6 years.
The first principle is that of "the absorbent mind". Montessori believed that an infant possesses the capacity to absorb his environment simply by being in it. Maria believed that the first three years are those of unconscious absorption. As observers we are unaware of just what a child has absorbed until the child brings his or her learning to the conscious level.
A baby's impressions are registered by his senses, the child touches, examines and usually places objects into the mouth. From an age of about three the child brings what he/she has already learnt to a conscious level and now begins to classify, sort and becomes more aware of colour distinction. This sub stage lasts until about the age of six. During this stage the child masters language and physical movement, A "blabber" now conducts meaningful conversations and indulges in reality based pretend play.
The second principle is that of “sensitive periods for learning” during these periods children learn effortlessly. The periods of learning are called “windows of opportunity” and have since been supported through neuroscience and recent brain research.
During the age zero to six the child will pass through several windows of opportunity eg. walking, language (receptive to more than one language at a time), sense of order and social interaction. This is not to say that skills cannot be developed once a child has passed through windows of opportunity, but to say that it would require more effort to acquire the same level of skill.
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