MONTESSORI EDUCATION SYSTEM /
To influence society
we must turn our attention to children.
Out of this truth comes the importance
of nursery schools, for it is the little ones who are building our future, and
they can work only on the materials we give them
education is a system for the education of children from birth through age 18.
It is based upon principles developed by Dr. Maria Montessori throughout her
life. The focus of this system is the development of materials, educational
techniques and observations which support the natural development of children.
The teacher in a Montessori classroom serves less as an "instructor"
and more as a guide or facilitator. Children are encouraged to "learn how
to learn," thus gaining independence and self-confidence. Because the
method is based upon developmentally appropriate activities, the child often
learns through the process of education - by doing. The Montessori school is
designed to accommodate various stages of development in children which occur
in roughly 3-year cycles. From birth to 3 years of age the child is absorbing
directly from the environment, almost as a sponge. It is during this phase that
many language and motor skills are acquired without formal instruction.
the second phase from 3 to 6 years of age, the child reaches a different stage
in which repetition and manipulation of the environment are critical to the
development of concentration, coordination, independence and a sense of order.
The child learns skills for everyday living, sorting, grading, classifying -
all which lead to the development of writing, reading and a mathematical mind.
the child reaches the next phase of development, ages 6 to 9, the imagination
is the key to learning. At this age there is an increasing awareness of the
world and an interest in its wonders. The classroom can now excite the child by
using this increased imagination to explore the universe. During this phase the
child is presented with "the big picture," an overview of the
inter-relatedness of things. The curriculum works from the large concept to the
more refined. Concepts are introduced through hands-on materials which
encourage and engage the child and assist in an understanding of concepts
before they are committed to memory.
the child goes through these various stages, Montessori classrooms are
organized into 3-year age groupings. This allows a greater flexibility in
meeting each child's individual needs and permits the child to develop with
fewer social transitions. The environment becomes the "teacher," with
the child as the initiator of his/her own education.
training is required for becoming a Montessori teacher. Montessori teacher
education is available in almost 100 institutions located in the U.S. and an
additional number in other countries of the world, in both special-purpose
institutions and college/university settings. An organization formed in 1991,
the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE), offers an
accreditation process for Montessori teacher preparation courses and is
supported by nine Montessori professional organizations and a group of
independent training programs.
Montessori school activities promote the development of a
child's social skills, emotional growth and body-mind coordination as well as
cognitive preparations for future intellectual activities.
The main premises of Montessori
Children are to be respected as
different from adults and as individuals who differ from each other.
The child possesses an unusual
sensitivity and intellectual ability, unlike those of the adult, to absorb and
learn from his environment, both in quality and quantity.
The first six years of life are the most
important years of a child's growth when unconscious learning gradually emerges
to the conscious level.
METHOD AND GOALS
The approach: Montessori programs
aim to help children reach their full potential in all
of life. Specially trained teachers, who facilitate, guide and help (but do not
impose their own will), allow the child to experience the joy of learning, the
time to enjoy the process, and ensure the development of self-esteem. The
system simply provides the experiences from which children create their own
knowledge. The child and teacher form a relationship based on trust and respect
to foster self-confidence and a willingness to try new things.
Montessori's observations of the kind of things children enjoy and return to
repeatedly, aided in her design of several multi-sensory, sequential and
self-correcting materials to facilitate learning.
Positive attitude towards school: Most learning activities are individualized,
so that a child engages in a learning task that appeals to her and builds a
positive attitude toward learning.
Developing self-confidence: Tasks are designed so that each new step is
built upon what the child has already mastered. This removes the negative
experience of frequent failure, contributing to the child's healthy emotional
A habit of concentration: The ability to listen attentively to what is
said or demonstrated presupposes effective learning. Through a series of
absorbing experiences, the child forms habits of extended attention, increasing
her ability to concentrate.
An abiding curiosity: Opportunities are offered for the child to discover
qualities, dimensions and relationships amidst a variety of stimulating
learning situations thereby developing curiosity, an essential element in
Teach by teaching, not by correcting: At no level of learning are papers returned to
a child with angry red marks and corrections. Instead, the child's effort and
work are respected. There is neither punishment nor reward because Dr
Montessori observed that small children expect neither. Their reward is in the
happy completion of a job itself and the natural respect that it commands.
Initiative and persistence: The child is surrounded with materials and
activities geared to her inner needs so that she becomes accustomed to engaging
in activities on her own, resulting in a habit of initiative.
Montessori Concepts (from wikipedia)
- Inner guidance of nature. All children have inherent inner
directives from nature that guide their true normal development.
- Freedom for self-directed learning. The Montessori method respects
individual liberty of children to choose their own activities. This
freedom allows children to follow their inner guidance for self-directed
- Planes of development. The natural development of children
proceeds through several distinct planes of development, each one having
its own unique conditions and sensitive periods for acquiring basic
faculties in the developmental process. The first plane (ages 0–6)
involves basic personality formation and learning through physical senses.
During this plane, children experience sensitive periods for acquiring
language and developing basic mental order. The second plane of
development (6–12) involves learning through abstract reasoning,
developing through a sensitivity for imagination and social interaction
with others. The third plane (12–18) is the period of adolescent growth,
involving the significant biological changes of puberty, moving towards
learning a valuation of the human personality, especially as related to
experiences in the surrounding community. The fourth plane (18+), involves
a completion of all remaining development in the process of maturing in
- Prepared environment. The right precise conditions around
children allow for and support their true natural development. For young
children, the environment must be prepared in this way by providing a
range of physical objects that are organized and made available for free,
independent use, to stimulate their natural instincts and interests for
- Observation and indirect teaching. The teacher's role is to observe
children engaged in activities that follow their own natural interests.
This indirect teaching to control the environment, not the child,
contrasts sharply with the ordinary teacher's role of implementing a
pre-determined curriculum. For example, a Montessori method class has the
teacher resolving misbehavior by refocusing the child to some positive
activity, rather than engaging in the ordinary system of rewards and
- Normalization. During the 0–6 plane of
development, children have the ability to shift their fundamental being
from the ordinary condition of disorder, inattention, and attachment to
fantasy to a state of perfect normal being, showing such external behavior
as spontaneous self-discipline, independence, love of order, and complete
harmony and peace with others in the social situation. This psychological
shift to normal being occurs through deep concentration on some physical
activity of the child's own free choice.
- Absorbent mind. The young child (0–6) has an
absorbent mind which naturally incorporates experiences in the environment
directly into its whole basic character and personality for life. This
mental faculty, which is unique to young children, allows them to learn
many concepts in an effortless, spontaneous manner. It also allows them to
undergo the key phenomenon of normalization to return to their true
natural development. After the age of about six, this absorbent mental
- Work, not play. Children have an instinctive
tendency to develop through spontaneous experiences on the environment,
which Dr. Montessori referred to as 'work'. In this sense, the children's
normal activity is attached to reality in the present moment, rather than
idle play through such means as toys and fantasy.
- Multi-age grouping. Children learn from each other in a
spontaneous manner that supports their independent self-directed activity.
The ordinary Montessori classroom therefore consists of a mixed-aged
group, such as 2–6 (primary level) or 6–12 (elementary level).
materials and curriculum
The Montessori method involves a curriculum of learning
that comes from the child's own natural inner guidance and expresses itself in
outward behavior as the child's various individual interests are at work.
Supporting this inner plan of nature, the method provides a range of materials
to stimulate the child's interest through self-directed activity. In the first
plane of development (0–6), these materials are generally organized into five
basic categories: practical life, sensorial, math, language, and culture. Other
categories include geography ( a child's perception of herself in space),
history (a child's perception of herself in time), and science (interactions
with the natural world).
Practical life materials and exercises respond to the young
child's natural interests to develop physical coordination, care of self and
care of the environment. Specific materials, for example, provide opportunities
for self-help dressing activities, using various devices to practice buttoning,
bow tying, and lacing. Other practical life materials include pouring, scooping
and sorting activities, as well as washing a table and food preparation to
develop hand-eye coordination. These activities also provide a useful
opportunity for children to concentrate bringing about their normalization.
Other practical life activities include lessons in polite manners, such as
folding hands, sitting in a chair, walking in line.
The sensorial materials provide a range of activities and
exercises for children to experience the natural order of the physical
environment, including such attributes as size, color, shape and dimension.
Many of these materials were originally suggested and developed by Seguin in his prior
research with scientific education.
Examples of these materials are pink tower (series of ten
sequential cubes, varying in volume); knobbed cylinders (wooden blocks with 10
depressions to fit variable sized cylinders); broad stairs (ten wooden blocks,
sequentially varying in two dimensions); color tablets (colored objects for
matching pairs or grading shapes of color).
In this area, materials are provided to show such basic
concepts as numeration, place value, addition, subtraction, division and
multiplication. For numeration, there is a set of ten rods, with segments
colored red and blue and "spindle boxes”, which consist of placing sets of
objects in groups, 1–10, into separate compartments. For learning the numeral
symbols, there is a set of sandpaper numerals, 1–9. For learning addition, subtraction,
and place value, materials provide decimal representation of 1, 10, 100, etc.,
in various shapes made of beads, plastic, or wood. Beyond the basic math
materials, there are materials to show the concept of fraction, geometrical
relationships and algebra, such as the binomial and trinomial theorems.
In the first plane of development (0–6), the Montessori
language materials provide experiences to develop use of a writing instrument
and the basic skills of reading a written language. For writing skill
development, the metal insets provide essential exercises to guide the child's
hand in following different outline shapes while using a pencil or pen. For
reading, a set of individual letters, commonly known as sandpaper letters,
provide the basic means for associating the individual letter symbols with
their corresponding phonetic sounds. Displaying several letters, a lesson,
known as the Seguin three-period lesson (see below), guides children to learn
the letter sounds, which finally blend together to make certain simple phonetic
words like "up” and "cat”. The aim of these nomenclature lessons is to show the
child that letters make sounds, which can be blended together to make words.
For children over six, Montessori language materials have been developed to
help children learn grammar, including parts of speech, such as nouns, verbs,
adjectives, articles, prepositions, adverbs, conjunctions, pronouns, and
The Montessori classroom may also include other materials
and resources to learn cultural subjects, such as geography (map puzzles,
globes, cultural suitcases containing country-specific materials), and science,
such as biology in naming and organizing plants and animals. Music and art are
also commonly involved with children in various ways. After the age of
approximately six, learning resources include reading books and more abstract
materials for learning a broad range of advanced subject matter.
Elementary (6–12) Curriculum
During the second plane (6–12) of development, the
curriculum takes on a more conventional appearance of books and writing
activities, since children now function more through abstract reasoning and are
no longer as sensitive to the physical environment. The contextual format for this
more advanced curriculum is described as cosmic education, a concept that was
first explained in England
in 1935. Cosmic education is the total interrelated functioning of the whole
universe, which allows elementary children to store and organize a great amount
of knowledge from among a wide range of different subject matter areas and
In the Montessori method, a lesson is an experimental
interaction with children to support their true normal development. With
materials, these lessons primarily aim to present their basic use to children
according to their own individual interests. These lessons are therefore given
in such a way that the teacher's personal involvement is reduced to the least
amount possible, so as not to interfere with the child's own free learning
directly through the materials themselves.
For many presentations, a three-step process, described
originally by Seguin,
is used in the Montessori method for showing the relationship between objects
and names. This is called the three-period lesson. With this nomenclature
lesson, two or three materials are selected from what the children are working
- Period 1 consists of providing the child with
the name of the material. In the case of letter sounds, the teacher will have
the child trace the letter and say, "This is /u/. This is /p/."
This provides the children with the name of what they are learning.
- Period 2 is to help the child recognize the
different objects. Most of the time with the three-period lesson is in
period 2. Some things the teacher might say are, "Show me the /u/.
Show me the /p/” or "Point to the /u/. Point to the /p/.” After
spending some time in the second period, the child may move on to period
- Period 3 involves checking to see if the
child not only recognizes the name of the material, but is able to tell
you what it is. The teacher will point to the "u" sandpaper
letter and ask the student, "What is this?" If the child replies
with, "uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu", the child fully understands it. With
letters, the lesson finally ends with the child blending the letters to
make a simple word, such as "up.”
The Montessori method is readily employed with children
at home. With young children, the practical life materials and exercises are
provided through everyday household activities and chores, such as setting the
table for meals, food preparation, and folding clothes for laundry. Parents
follow the method by using slow, simple movements in showing how to do these
chores, as well as by establishing routines for children to conduct their own
activities with as much independence and self-direction as possible.
Music in Montessori Environment
Maria Montessori discovered that musical education would
greatly benefit children during their developmental years. Infant brains are
sensitive and responsive to musical sounds, preferring them over other types of
sounds. A child’s musical receptiveness remains especially strong through the
preschool years until about the age of six. That is why parents speak to their
infants in a high-pitched, "sing-song” type of voice. Educators, scientist,
researchers and doctors are confirming that musical training can significantly
enhance child development. Several studies indicate that exposure to music
(listening, learning and playing) does have beneficial effects for
preschoolers. Active musical training can improve their problem-solving skills,
physical coordination, poise, concentration, memory, visual, aural and language
skills, self discipline. It fosters self confidence and improves the ability to
learn. The Montessori environment provides experiential learning with a set of
bells, tone blocks and movable note blocks.