Dr. Maria Montessori developed the “prepared environment” with materials designed for the child’s development. They are arranged in a sequential and orderly manner that the child follows according to his/her interest and age. This prepared environment answers to the needs of the sensitive periods of the child as well as providing means in which they can practice behaviours that foster independence, responsibility and ownership. All of these behaviours are encouraged according to the rate of the individual child’s own development and are non competitive with self correcting material. This is called the Casa de Bambini or The Children’s House. Here the child practices their freedom, within the limits of the philosophy.
The Children’s House is made up of children within 3 year age ranges or stages of development, when they share the same psychological understanding. In these groupings they are influential toward one another as helpers, teachers and admirers and learn from one another. The period between 3 and 6 years old is also when the rules of grace and courtesy can be presented and practiced, allowing them to practice social skills necessary to feel comfortable in their place in society.
The structure of Montessori learning involves the use of many materials with which the child may work individually. At every step of learning, the teaching material is designed to test understanding and to correct errors without external approvall. The manipulation of the materials with the hands stimulates the development of the brain, (whereas rote memorization actually inhibits individual skills and abilities). The essential academic skills, such as language, math and culture are highlighted during sensitive periods and are first acquired from birth to age 6, during the period of the Absorbent Mind, and honed in the elementary and secondary years. Montessori Materials are self correcting, helping the child to feel that they did it themselves. They learn through purposeful activity and through tactile exploration.
Dr. Montessori recognized that the main valid impulse to learning is the self- motivation of the child stimulated by natural interest. The Director observes the child and guides them toward the area that their sensitive period is manifesting through their behaviour. The presentations are one on one or in small groups, after which the children are encouraged to repeat the lessons independently. The order of the classroom and curriculum is essential to the successful understanding and confidence gained by the student.
Montessori is a time- tested, child centered approach to learning, from the age of 0 to adiulthood and specifically in the absorbent mind period of 0 to 6 years. The children are the inspiration for a close, caring community designed to develop the whole child, physically, socially, emotionally and cognitively.
Some of the people who have been touched by Montessori comprise of a diverse group of influential people. Montessori alumni in the public eye include: Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page; Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon; Will Wright, creator of The Sims and Spore computer games; actors Lee Thompson Young and Helen Hunt; and singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, Anne Frank (World War ll author), Prince William and Prince Harry, Julia Child, George Clooney, Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Nobel Prize winner for Literature), Fred Rogers and many more.
Many public, private, and parochial elementary and secondary schools are now utilizing this approach.