Maria Montessori Theory
ECE 101 Introduction to Early Childhood Education (ACJ 1136A)
Maria Montessori was born in 1870 in Chiaravalle (Ancona), Italy, to Alessandro Montessori and Renilde Stoppani (niece of Antonio Stoppani). At the age of thirteen she attended an all-boy technical school in preparation for her dream of becoming an engineer. At the time, she insisted specifically that she did not want to be a teacher because the teaching profession was one of the few that women were encouraged to take part in at the time. Montessori was the first woman to graduate from the University of Rome La Sapienza Medical School, becoming one of the first female doctors in Italy. She was a member of the University’s Psychiatric Clinic and became intrigued with trying to educate the “special needs” or “unhappy little ones” and the “uneducable” in Rome. In 1896, she gave a lecture at the Educational Congress in Torino about the training of the disabled. The Italian Minister of Education was in attendance, and, sufficiently impressed by her arguments, appointed her the same year as director of the Scuola Ortofrenica, an institution devoted to the care and education of the mentally retarded. She accepted, in order to put her theories to the test. Her first notable success was to have several of her 8 year old students apply to take the State examinations for reading and writing. The “defective” children not only passed, but had above-average scores, an achievement described as “the first Montessori miracle.” Montessori’s response to their success was “if mentally disabled children could be brought to the level of normal children then (she) wanted to study the potential of normal children” Because of her success with these children, she was asked to start a school for children in a housing project in Rome, which opened on January 6, 1907, and which she called “Casa dei Bambini” or Children’s House. Children’s House was a child care center in an apartment building in the poor neighborhood of Rome. She was focused on teaching the students ways to develop their own skills at a pace they set, which was a principle Montessori called “spontaneous self-development”. A wide variety of special equipment of increasing complexity is used to help direct the interests of the child and hasten development. When a child is ready to learn new and more difficult tasks, the teacher guides the child’s first endeavors in order to avoid wasted effort and the learning of wrong habits; otherwise the child learns alone. It has been reported that the Montessori method of teaching has enabled children to learn to read and write much more quickly and with greater facility than has otherwise been possible. The Montessori Method of teaching concentrates on quality rather than quantity. The success of this school sparked the opening of many more, and a worldwide interest in Montessori’s methods of education.
The foundation principles and concepts of Maria Montessori theory that can be applied across all ages: Independence, Observation, Following the Child, Correcting the Child, Prepared Environment and Absorbent Mind. It is within these concepts we find the logic behind why things are such in a Montessori atmosphere. These are goals and values that Maria Montessori held with regards to the education of children
“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.” – Maria Montessori
It is always a goal of Montessori education in the classrooms to make the child independent and be able to do things for him self. This is achieved by giving children opportunities. Opportunities to move, to dress themselves, to choose what they want to do, and to help the adult with tasks.
When the children are able to do things for themselves there is an increase in their self belief and even self confidence and esteem that they may carry on throughout their life.
Observation or watching the child is for parents easy to do. We can spend countless hours just watching children and see how they are enjoying themselves, Observation
. This was the simple method of how Maria Montessori has learned about children and developed her theories on child development. She observed with out preconceived ideas that helped her develop materials that the children needed and were interested in. It is also the way adults can learn about what the child needs. If the child starts banging on objects, they have the need for that gross motor activity, and then give them a drum. If they are pushing things around the room, they need to walk but can’t do it themselves yet, help them or give them the opportunity to push and give them for example a wagon to push. This is how observation can help create harmony, fulfilling the child’s current needs.
Following the Child
Follow the child, they will show you what they need to do, what they need to develop in themselves and what area they need to be challenged.
“The aim of the children who persevere in their work with an object is certainly not to “learn”; they are drawn to it by the needs of their inner life, which must be recognized and developed by its means.” – Maria Montessori
From what you have observed from the actions of the children, follow them in what they need to do. If they want to climb give them opportunities to climb in a safe manner but allow them, do not be overprotective.
Following the child also means being non-directive, do not tell them what to do all the time. Give your child the freedom to choose what he wants or needs to do and act on his own. Do not tell them that they have done, present to them choices of different materials/toys. Also stand back and watch the child what they do, there is no need to intervene all the time unless they have become really destructive and about to hurt them selves. Knowing when to intervene is a skill a parent will know when they get to know their child and a parent has set limits for their children.
Correcting the child
Children make mistakes, they may spill something, or drop food unintentionally, etc., and there is no need to raise your voice. Instead calmly recognize the mistake “oh you dropped the…, why don’t we get a cloth and wipe it up. Children make mistakes, they may spill something, or drop food unintentionally, etc., and there is no need to raise your voice. Instead calmly recognize the mistake “oh you dropped the…, why don’t we get a cloth and wipe it up.” It is an opportunity to ask the child to do some valid practical work with you. You will find children do like to clean up as they see it as something adults do. There is no need to blatantly point out a child’s mistake; there is a way to make them realize it. For example a cloth bib for a child who is learning how drink form a glass will find out that if they tip the glass a bit too early the water will spill on to them and they will feel it. If they mispronounce a word, no need to correct them but repeat the word correctly this time. Correcting children may get them to be scared of attempting anything in fear of making a mistake. Children will make mistakes and we need to teach them in a nice manner. Giving the child the freedom and the choice, supporting them in their choice by making sure they are safe, feeding their inquiring minds in a way that they can understand/concretely and observing their needs and fulfilling these can be the key to helping your children develop themselves to their full potential.
“The teacher’s first duty is to watch over the environment, and this takes precedence over all the rest. Its influence is indirect, but unless it is well done there will be no effective and permanent results of any kind, physical, intellectual or spiritual.” –Maria Montessori
The prepared environment is important to Montessori. It is the link for the child to learn from the adult. Rooms are child sized and activities are set up for success. It also allows freedom of movement and of choice. The environment has to be safe for the child to explore freely.
The environment has to be ready and beautiful for the child that it invites them to work. Montessori refers to work as the activity the child does or what people might call play. She calls this work since it is through this that they create themselves and it is simply not play. Their play is their work and they are still enjoying it.
The adult’s role then is to construct their environment in which they will learn. The development of the child is dependent therefore on the environment he is in, and the environment includes the parents.
Montessori observed how the children learned the language without anyone teaching them. This sparked her idea for the “absorbent mind’. For children under the age of three they do not need to have lessons in order to learn, they simply absorb everything in the environment by experiencing it, being part of it. It is therefore important that the environment set up is good, nice and positive since this is what the child will absorb whether he chooses to or not.
The language of the adult is one that a child will easily pick up. Be careful of what you say around them. Even though you think they is not listening, they may not be able to express themselves yet but when they can you will not want them swearing back at you. It is for this reason that one should try not to say “No” to a child. We do not want them saying “no” to us rudely. Instead we say “stop” when we want to tell children that what they are doing wrong.
ECE 101 Introductions to Early Childhood Education
Ashford Online Library
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ECE 101 week 5 final paper - Montessori Theory 6-8 pg fainl paper.docx