“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.” – Maria Montessori
Although the Montessori philosophy is timeless, Maria Montessori was, in many ways, ahead of her time. Born in the town of Chiaravalle, in the province of Ancona, Italy, in 1870, she became the first female physician in Italy upon her graduation from medical school in 1896.
In her medical practice, her clinical observations led her to analyze how children learn, and she concluded that they build themselves from what they find in their environment. Shifting her focus from the body to the mind, she returned to the university in 1901, this time to study psychology and philosophy. In 1904, she was made a professor of anthropology at the University of Rome.
Her desire to help children was so strong, however, that in 1906 she gave up both her university chair and her medical practice to work with a group of sixty young children of working parents in the San Lorenzo district of Rome.
The success of her method then caused her to ask questions of ‘normal’ education and the ways in which it failed children. Dr. Montessori had the chance to test her program and ideas with the establishment of the first Casa dei Bambini (Children’s house or household) in Rome in 1907. This house and those that followed were designed to provide a good environment for children to live and learn. An emphasis was placed on self-determination and self-realization. This entailed developing a concern for others and discipline and to do this children engaged in the exercise of daily living. These and other exercises were to function like a ladder allowing the child to pick up the challenge and to judge their progress. ‘The essential thing is for the task to arouse such an interest that it engages the child’s whole personality’.
This connected with a further element in the Montessori program – ‘child centered learning’ not teacher centered learning. The teacher was the ‘keeper’ of the environment. While children got on with their activities the task was to observe and to intervene from the periphery.
Dr. Montessori believed that children learn best by doing, not by passively accepting other people’s ideas and pre-existing knowledge. Believing that the young child had more potential than educators realized, she began to develop this potential by teaching the young child through their natural interest in exploring the world. The child’s developmentally appropriate approach was designed to individually accommodate each child’s unique abilities.
Montessori devoted her life to the education of children and her teaching philosophy eventually evolved to encompass 6 basic principles of the Montessori philosophy: Independence, Observation, Following the Child, Correcting the Child, Prepared Environment and Absorbent Mind. These principles form the basis of the Montessori educational experience. Her teaching techniques are presently used in public and private school classrooms all over the world.
Global Montessori specializes in early childhood education providing daycare, preschool and elementary programs and has been serving Langley, Brookswood, Cloverdale, Walnut Grove, Surrey, High Point and Morgan Creek for over 26 years.