About Maria Montessori
Maria Montessori, born in 1870 in Italy was the founder of the Montessori Philosophy that still operates today. As the first female doctor in Italy, she grew an interest in the observation of children, a part of her work she found critical to the development of the child; observation was as important to Montessori as education.
Montessori soon became known for her educational work rather than as a physician and it was here that she turned her attention to opening her first school, Casa di Bambini, The Children’s House. Her students soon saw the benefits in her teachings and became hungry for what the materials had to show them. The materials Montessori designed were self correcting, leading to their greater independence. She noticed children repeating activities over and over with no need for any form of reward—the work itself was sufficient.
The Montessori word spread fast and Maria traveled extensively to deliver her method—a method that still proves itself throughout all socioeconomic groups to be of outstanding value to the development of the child in creating the adult they are to become.
The Key Elements of the Montessori School
- Classes are divided into mixed age groupings of three year periods 3-6 years, 6-9 year, 9-12 years, 12-15 years and 15-18 years.
- Schools have an uninterrupted work cycle, usually of 3 hours. This is a time when a child is free to choose their work without interruption providing the work is appropriate and maintained constructively.
- There are no rewards in a Montessori School just as there are no punishments. Acknowledgements, however, are appropriate for the Upper Primary students and upwards.
- Every environment is prepared for the child so that they make use of their time to construct and develop their character through their own learning.
- The educator in the environment is there to facilitate the child’s learning and therefore must have the respect, patience and humility to observe and offer learning at the child’s full potential.
- The Montessori curriculum is aligned with the Gauteng Department of Education.
The Montessori Classroom
The Montessori Classroom is termed a Prepared Environment—and it is just that, prepared, from equipment to materials, from furniture to resources. It is a classroom where quiet and peacefulness are key elements. Neutral colours and natural materials help in maintaining the calmness of the classroom to allow the child to express their joy as they go about their day making discoveries and exploring all they can. Montessori described it as “ a nourishing place for the child …. designed to meet his needs for self-construction and to reveal his personality and growth patterns to us”.
The materials are an integral part of the classroom allowing the child the independence to work alone or in a group. The educator is a second part of the classroom with the child being the third. The educator is the link between the materials and the child in guiding each child’s needs at each stage in their development.