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Montessori (pronounced MON-tuh-SORE-ee) education was founded in 1907 by Dr. Maria Montessori, the first woman in Italy to become a physician. She based her educational methods on scientific observation of children’s learning processes. Guided by her discovery that children teach themselves, Dr. Montessori designed a “prepared environment” in which children could freely choose from a number of developmentally appropriate activities. Now, nearly a century after Maria Montessori’s first casa dei bambini (“children’s house”) in Rome, Montessori education is found all over the world, spanning ages from birth to adolescence.
It is a system of education in both a philosophy of child growth and a rationale for guiding such growth. It is based on the child’s developmental needs for freedom within limits and on a carefully prepared environment that 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 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.
Observers of Montessori children have described them as having developed self-discipline, self-knowledge, and independence, as well as enthusiasm for learning, an organized approach to problem solving, and academic skills.
There are more Montessori programs for ages 3-6 than for any other age group, but Montessori is not limited to early childhood. Many infant/toddler programs (ages 2 months to 3 years) exist, as well as elementary (ages 6-12), adolescent (ages 12-15) and even a few Montessori high Schools.
Research studies show that Montessori children are well prepared for later life academically, socially, and emotionally. In addition to scoring well on standardized tests, Montessori children are ranked above average on such criteria as following directions, turning in work on time, listening attentively, using basic skills, showing responsibility, asking provocative questions, showing enthusiasm for learning, and adapting to new situations.
Most children appear to adjust readily to new classroom situations. In all likelihood this is because they have developed a high degree of self discipline and independence in the Montessori environment, and because of the adaptability of young children in general.
A Montessori House of Children is a School which follows the teachings of Dr. Maria Montessori. Since the name Montessori is not protected by any copyright, Montessori in the name of a House of Children does not necessarily mean that it adheres to the Montessori philosophy of education. Nor does it mean that it is accredited by the IMC (Indian Montessori Centre). So, buyer beware is an important caution to keep in mind when looking for a Montessori House of Children.
When you are considering a Montessori House of Children look for the following:
1. Membership in the Indian Montessori Centre (IMC) – IMC is the only authorized body in India as of date to recognize Montessori house of Children. The certification issued by IMC confirms that the house of children is adhering to the principles of the Montessori Method and practicing the same.
2. The Teaching Style – Montessori teachers don’t teach in the normally accepted sense of that word. They facilitate, guide and direct their students. If you see a teacher talking to or lecturing a group of children sitting and listening, chances are that the House of Children does not adhere to Montessori methods. Montessori trained teachers teach 1:1 with each child.
3. The Class Will Include Several Ages. – You won’t find a 1st grade per se in a Montessori House of Children. Students will be in groups spanning a range of several years. The idea behind that is that the older children in effect teach their younger classmates. The interaction of older and younger children is a fundamental part of the Montessori approach. Montessori age groupings are typically in three year cycles, 0-3,3-6, 6-9, 9-12.
4. Work Is Not Graded. – The essence of Dr. Montessori’s method is that children learn by doing and exploring at their own pace. A Montessori teacher never hands back work with red marks and grades on them. The teacher suggests things to explore but ultimately the child is at liberty to choose what he wishes to learn at any given moment during his day at House of Children.
5. Teachers Trained and Certified in Montessori Methods and Techniques. – The IMC has designated training centers IMTC (Indian Montessori Training Courses) that provide individuals with a diploma in Montessori method which is a nine month certification course.
Montessori classrooms are designed in a multi-age mix from toddlers through adolescents which allows for both individual and social development. The classrooms are beautiful by design. They are set up in an open style, with work areas throughout the room and materials available on accessible shelving. Most lessons are given to small groups or individual children while other children are working independently.
The House of Children uses stories, Montessori materials, charts, time lines, objects of nature, treasures from the wealth of cultures around the worlds and sometime conventional tools to teach the children. Guided by the teacher, Montessori students actively participate in planning their time and taking responsibility for their work.
The child is free to move about the classroom at will, to talk to other children, to work with any equipment he or she understands, or to ask the teacher to introduce new material to him or her. The child is not free to disturb other children at work or to abuse the equipment that is so important to the child’s development.
Montessori emphasizes learning through all five senses, not just through listening, watching, or reading. Children in Montessori classes learn at their own, individual pace and according to their own choice of activities from hundreds of possibilities. Learning is an exciting process of discovery, leading to concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning. Montessori classes place children in three-year age groups (3-6, 6-9, 9-12, and so on), forming communities in which the older children spontaneously share their knowledge with the younger ones. Montessori represents an entirely different approach to education.
|Montessori Educational Method||Traditional Educational Method|
|Teacher prepares the environment with learning materials||Teacher is center of classroom as instructor|
|Emphasizes inner discipline||Teacher is primary enforcer of discipline|
|Mainly individual instruction||Group and some individual instruction|
|Mixed age grouping||Same age grouping|
|Much teaching is peer teaching and modeling||Most teaching is done by the teacher|
|Curriculum is structured for each child||Curriculum is structured for the whole class|
|Child internalizes concepts through exploration of educational materials||Child is taught concepts by the teacher|
|Child is self-paced and usually continues with an activity for an extended time||Child is generally allotted specific Instructional time|
|d>Child sets own learning pace||Group sets learning pace|
|Child identifies own errors from feedback from the educational material||Teacher identifies errors|
|Learning is reinforced internally by individuals repetition with learning materials and an internal feeling of competence||Learning is reinforced externally by group repetition and rewards|
|Multi-sensory learning materials for physical exploration||Paper and pencil approach to learning|
|Purposeful movement in the classroom is encouraged and believed to be an aid to learning||Child usually assigned own chair: encouraged to participate, sit still and listen during group sessions|
To give the child the best opportunity for development, the Montessori principles and philosophy should be implemented in the home from birth. Parents need to read books as well as attend workshops, lectures and courses, if possible, on implementing the Montessori philosophy in the home. If the home and House of Children environments complement each other, the child will receive the maximum benefit.
Yes, you can use Montessori principles of child development at home. Look at your home through your child’s eyes. Children need a sense of belonging, and they get it by participating fully in the routines of everyday life. “Help me do it by myself” is the life theme of the preschool. Can you find ways for your child to participate in meal preparation, cleaning, gardening, caring for clothes, shoes, and toys? Providing opportunities for independence is the surest way to build your child’s self-esteem.
At the House of Children level many home schooling and other parents use the Montessori philosophy of following the child’s interest and not interrupting concentration to educate their children.
In House of Children only a trained Montessori teacher can properly implement Montessori education, using the specialized learning equipment of the Montessori “prepared environment.” Here social development comes from being in a positive and unique environment with other children — an integral part of Montessori education.
Montessori is designed to help all children reach their fullest potential at their own unique pace. A classroom whose children have varying abilities is a community in which everyone learns from one another and everyone contributes. Moreover, multiage grouping allows each child to find his or her own pace without feeling “ahead” or “behind” in relation to peers.
The Montessori system has been used successfully with children age 2 and a half years from all socio-economic levels, representing those in regular classes as well as the gifted, the retarded, the emotionally disturbed and the physically handicapped. It is also appropriate for classes in which the student/teacher ratio is high, because the children learn at an early age to work independently.
Frequent & Useful Lists
- What are the outdoor activities?
- What are the indoor sports available?
- What is the payment schedule?
- Do you have a doctor on call?
- What languages are taught?
- Do you have regular exams?
- How is the student assessed?
- What are the working hours?
- What curriculum is followed?
- Where are the locations?
- How safe is the pick up van?
- Is it GPRS enabled?
- Park and recreation facilities
- Trained Teachers there?
- What other facilities available?
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