Montessori

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From the brochure …

Montessori is considered more an ‘aid to life’ than a curriculum. The adult is merely the ‘keeper of the environment’, observing and intervening only from the periphery, with minimal interference.

Emphasis is on self-determination & self-realization. Exercises in daily living function like a ladder, allowing the child to pick up the challenge and to judge their progress. Essentially, the task must arouse such an interest that it engages the child’s whole personality.

Montessori School methods are adapted for home education. Suitable for families who see that a parent’s job is to aid and observe the child’s life as it unfolds.


To Elaborate …

Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was an Italian physician, educator, philosopher and humanitarian. She was, in fact, the first woman in Italy to receive a medical degree.

Maria believed that children are born with their own individual and unique potential, which is to be revealed – they are not a blank slate simply waiting to be written on. “A child’s work is to create the person she/he will become,” she is quoted as saying.

Many consider that Montessori methods translate naturally into the home environment, as she developed her methods by providing a home-like environment for children who had never enjoyed even basic comforts in their own houses.

She taught:

  • that the child’s environment should be natural and life-supporting
  • to observe the child living freely in this environment
  • that the environment should be continually adapted so that the child is able to fulfil their greatest potential in every way
  • that this potential is physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, for each child

Montessori represented the stages of development as a ‘rhythm’ of six year cycles, with each cycle having an opening and closing phase. Each cycle begins with a new awareness of particular experiences, which leads to acquiring input and gaining minor conquests in those areas. These achievements are then consolidated in the closing of that phase which becomes the preparation for the next cycle.

These six year cycles, the four planes of development, are:

  • Infancy (0-6yo)
  • Childhood (6-12yo)
  • Adolescence (12-18yo)
  • Maturity (18-24yo)

Infancy and adolescence are described as more turbulent ‘creative’ periods, in contrast to childhood and maturity, which are ‘calm phases of uniform growth’.

The purpose of a Montessori environment is to lay the foundations for continuing a positive, confident attitude towards learning and developing the skills for co-operation and community activity. The aim of the Montessori ‘teacher’ is to control the environment rather than the child.

The Montessori Approach is child-centred but adult guided, structured but free for learning, and emphasises the basics in an enjoyable way. Mutual respect, tolerance and concern for others is considered paramount. Some suggest this approach is best suited to younger children, however some find successful application throughout the high school years.
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Some Advantages

  • very child-centric
  • teaches the child how to learn rather than what to learn
  • can be beneficial for children with special needs
  • some options can be quite cost-effective
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Some Disadvantages

  • some options can be expensive
  • requires a lot of attention from parents
  • may require considerable study in order to implement effectively
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Personal Comment

There is a lot written on the topic, but bear in mind that as the name Montessori is not copyrighted, the application can be very loose. Maria Montessori is quoted as saying, “I studied the children and they taught me how to teach them”. That sounds like something a home educator would say! I have no personal experience of using these methods in any environment, however.
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Useful Links

  • Montessori Home Schooling
    A page begun by families using the Montessori philosophy and educational practices to educate their children at home. Answers to common questions, a personal story, and some additional links.
  • Lisa Nolan Montessori
    Designed for those who want to incorporate Montessori into their own setting, with easy to download and relatively inexpensive resources.
  • The Montessori Method
    Complete e-text of Maria Montessori’s inspiring book to print out and read, or bookmark and read online.
  • International Montessori Index
    Comprehensive index about all things Montessori, including a good section on applying the methods in a home education environment.

An internet search will yield additional resources, which you will be able to assess according to your own criteria.
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What we learn with pleasure we never forget.
~ Alfred Mercier

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