Theorists: Maria Montessori (1870-1952)
Maria Montessori was the first Italian female doctor, a feminist, and a children’s advocate. Her experiences with young children are defined by her beliefs that all children have the ability to grow and develop in orderly environments that offer opportunities for children to become independent and critical thinkers.
Montessori emphasized the importance of a carefully “prepared environment” as a primary role of the teacher in guiding young children. Montessori implemented her theory of development through specific teaching techniques and materials based on her belief that learning is cumulative.
In a Montessori program you will observe:
- Children moving independently between the specific activities teachers have planned for them based on their abilities.
- Teachers observing and directing individual learning activities for each child.
- Classrooms are formed with multi-age grouping allowing for different developmental stages.
- Children spend 3 years in a group with the same teacher.
- Children spend most of their day in individual activities with few large group times.
- A Montessori classroom is well organized with defined areas for different types of learning.
- Furniture and equipment are child-sized.
- Specific equipment is available to children that are to be used with a precise method of teaching to meet developmental objectives.
- Real materials as opposed to toys are used in the classroom whenever possible.
- Each area contains open shelves with the materials organized and labeled.
- Materials are developed for children to use independently.
- Practical life is a part of the Montessori Method in which children learn life skills such as serving or preparing food, dressing skills, and gardening.