Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori – who was the first woman to receive a medical degree in Italy – first institutionalized her approach in 1907. Her method, coined the Montessori Method, utilizes an individualized approach in discovering each child’s unique strengths and skills. With this philosophy, specially trained staff aided with distinct Montessori teaching materials, develop and nurture the child’s potential.
The two main underlying principles are:
- Freedom within limits. Student should be free to learn what they’d like within the guidelines of the classroom.
- Environmental interaction incorporating special strategic preparation of Montessori materials. This provides the student with great exposure to numerous sensory experiences.
Our classrooms are different from traditional classrooms because the students vary in age. This is because our students are placed in classrooms based on academic achievement rather than placed by age (practiced by most public schools). Students are given freedom to choose their own activities from a prescribed range and are allowed to complete these tasks without any distraction. Having a block of time to specifically work with Montessori materials individually assists in developing critical thinking skills and logic.
Children who enjoy the independence of a Montessori environment are more likely to devote themselves more exclusively to the development of their intellectual abilities when they become older.
Materials and lessons in the classroom are specially chosen to advance intelligence revolving around practical skills, sensory development, mathematics, language, music, art, history and the sciences.
The basis for the strategic material selection and learning methods were derived from Maria Montessori’s experiments on how children progressed developmentally. Maria identified four discrete periods in human development. The two periods during the Montessori schooling years are from 0 – 6 years and 6 – 12 years. From birth until around 6 years old, a child is in their first phase: the sensory exploration phase. This period is where psychological structure and independence start to develop. During the second phase from 6 – 12 years old, she observed the strengthening of imagination and reason as well as significant socializing amongst peers. This period activates intellectual independence, moral sense and social organization.
Using these findings, a Montessori program was created to maximize stimulation for intellectual growth and social development in the most efficient and harmonious way. For nearly half a century, these methods have been the foundation for instruction at Montessori Children’s Academy.