About Dr. Maria Montessori
The Montessori method was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952) in the early 1900’s. Her academic background in medicine, psychology and anthropology combined with clinical observations of children were the basis for the development of her philosophy of education.
Dr. Montessori observed the children’s natural development and responded by identifying significant and hitherto unknown facts about their behaviour. She believed that during a child’s early years they pass through “sensitive periods” during which they are particularly receptive to certain stimuli and, therefore, easily absorb, learn and assimilate unconsciously from the world around them. She developed highly specialized forms of materials that provide a source of profound satisfaction to the child and promote concentration and coordination, corresponding to the individual child’s rate of progress.
In addition, she insisted that the classroom had to be a child friendly, orderly, and non-competitive place where children are given the freedom to choose and indulge their spontaneous love of “work”. She called this the “prepared environment”.
The role of the teacher in a Montessori classroom is to observe, guide, and direct the child towards the fulfillment of her/his unique needs and potential. In this atmosphere of acceptance and respect the “whole child” will be developed, resulting in a self-confident, self-motivated personality who joyfully pursues knowledge.
The developmental needs of each child are met, and through role modelling and motivation, the older students provide the younger students with assistance, which is mutually beneficial.