The Montessori Method: Independence, Respect and Responsibility

Independence gives the child true freedom.  In the classroom, children are free to choose work and make mistakes in a structured environment.  When a child is working within prescribed limits, self-perfection, self-discipline and success ensues without the need for external reward or correction.  Children will reveal their inner selves while the guide (or teacher) observes and feeds the child's hunger to learn.  The guide provides a rich, beautiful environment with limits while the child pursues his or her interests. The adults model respect in the classroom while the children are given lessons on how to respect themselves, their environment and each other. 

The children are given lessons based on interests in the classroom.  The children choose how often to work on such materials.  The guide in a Montessori classroom will observe practice and mastery behaviors.  Once mastery is achieved the next lesson is offered.  There is no limit to the curriculum and the child can pursue any interest. 

Below is an example of a Montessori three hour work cycle as a five minute time lapse video. 

A 3 hour Montessori work cycle. (C) Lindsay Palmer Photography: http://www.lindsaypalmer.ca More information on Montessori Evidence Based Education found here: http://dvms.ca/montessori-resources/
 Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was an Italian scientist and medical doctor who developed a philosophy and method of education over 100 years ago.

Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was an Italian scientist and medical doctor who developed a philosophy and method of education over 100 years ago.

Maria Montessori & Her Philosophy

As Italy's first female physician, Maria Montessori studied how children learn.  Through her observations, she identified universal tendencies in human development.  She was the first to realize that children have sensitive periods for learning.  She termed the period of 0-6 years old as the “absorbent mind.”  Children ages 3-6 years old are rapidly and consciously absorbing information from their environment to create themselves.  Dr. Montessori developed a philosophy in which children’s natural tendencies are respected and utilized to develop a child's understanding and awareness of the world.

This philosophy is the basis of the Montessori teaching method.  Montessori is a holistic approach to teaching children with the goal of making a peaceful society.  All children have fundamental needs and tendencies of movement, orientation, communication, order, imagination and self-perfection.  These innate tendencies in the proper environment conjure effortless learning.

Any child who is self-sufficient, who can tie his shoes, dress or undress himself, reflects in his joy and sense of achievement the image of human dignity, which is derived from a sense of independence.

   -    Maria Montessori