I thought Id share with you some information about the Montessori system of education and learning. There are many things I love about this approach and its refreshing to have another option besides an authoritarian, disciplinary approach to schooling, especially for young children.
Montessori was first established by an Italian lady, Maria Montessori. She held the belief that years birth to six are the most important in terms of learning, and she developed a whole system of education based upon this philosophy. She first tested her theory on a group of children who had emotional and disciplinary problems. By setting up a loving, nurturing environment where children could learn at their own pace, the change in the children was remarkable. Not only did they thrive educationally, but they developed respect for themselves and those around them. Marias pioneering method of teaching was so successful that Montessori centres of learning were quickly set up in Europe and throughout the world. There are now countless Montessori playgroups, pre-schools, primary and secondary schools.
Montessori education differs on many levels to other, more traditional teaching methods. Here is a brief overview of the Montessori approach to learning:
1. Children learn in mixed age groups (ie. The ages at pre-school range from 3 to 5). This enables children to learn to respect each other, to learn at their own pace without standing out, and to have the opportunity to be teachers to younger students).
2. Children learn at their own pace. All Montessori teaching aids are self-correcting so children can carry out tasks successfully with minimal guidance.
3. Teachers are referred to as directors/directresses. This is because the directress is seen to guide a child towards completing activities rather than explain how something should be done.
4. All equipment is suitable for the childs age and size. Child-sized furniture, easy-to-reach activities, age appropriate learning devices and child-sized real life objects (such as brooms and mops) are all easily obtainable by the child.
5. Children may choose whatever activity they wish to engage in. Thereby children can self-learn at their own pace.
6. Children are taught to respect each other in the classroom and to engage socially in a non-aggressive way.
7. Children learn side by side but are also free to assist others and share their skills and discoveries.
8. The environment is conducive to learning. Equipment is natural, attractive and kept within its place. Things like natural light, natural fibres and items from nature can be found in the Montessori classroom. Upon completing one task, children return the item to the relevant shelf before selecting another.
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