The Montessori teaching method allows self-directed learning through hands-on manipulation. The classroom is arranged to encourage children to move freely and develop at their own pace. Children are encouraged to do and learn for themselves whenever possible and can make choices in various learning areas including practical life, sensorial, math, language and science. This freedom within limits helps to develop self-discipline, independence, a respect for others and a love of learning.
The Montessori method was developed in Italy during the first decade of the 20th century by Dr. Maria Montessori. “In a Montessori setting, children are treated as individuals (who differ from each other and from adults) who possess an unusual capacity for absorbing knowledge from their environments.”*
Dr. Montessori felt that children’s need for purposeful work is directed by the development of self — mentally, physically, and psychologically. Each child is free to choose work according to his or her abilities in an environment that is set up with concrete, hands-on materials, in areas of practical life, sensorial, math, language, science/geography, and art. The self-esteem that comes from success motivates children to want to learn more about their surroundings. The children are continually gathering information and processing it as they manipulate the materials in the classroom.
The Directress acts as a guide to children’s work habits as she sets up the classroom according to the children’s needs and interests. The Directress presents new material to children who are ready to move on to more difficult tasks. Group presentations are to show children how materials should be worked with properly so as to aid in learning the basic skills needed for more advanced work. The Directress can then observe children working within a small community as they act on the materials in an ordered environment.
* Quote from Family Magazine: “The Foundations at Richmond Montessori School”.