Dr. Maria Montessori, the creator of what is called “The Montessori Method of Education”, based this new education on her scientific observations of young children's behavior. She called it “ A Children's House”, and based the program on her observations that young children learn best in a homelike setting, filled with developmentally appropriate materials that provide experiences that contribute to the growth of self-motivated, independent learners.
Montessori's dynamic theories included such revolutionary premises as:
Each Montessori class, from toddlers through high school, operates on the principle of freedom within limits. Every programs has its set of ground rules which differ from age to age, but is always based on core Montessori beliefs—respect for each other and for the environment.
Children are free to work at their own pace with materials they have chosen, either alone or with others. The teacher relies on her observations of the children to determine which new activities and materials she may introduce to an individual child or to a small or large group.
The three-year-age span in each class provides a family-like grouping where learning can take place naturally. More experienced children share what they have learned while reinforcing their own learning. Because this peer group learning is intrinsic to Montessori,
There is often more conversation—language experiences—in the Montessori classroom than in conventional early education settings. Montessori allows children to experience the excitement of learning by their own choice. Dr. Montessori observed that it was easier for a child to learn a particular skill during the corresponding "sensitive period" than at any other time in life. These are periods of intense fascination for learning a particular skill and are an optimal time to master a new ability.
Montessori is based on a profound respect for each child's personality. Children make decisions about what they will learn, choosing activities selected by the Facilitator (teacher). Children are allowed a large measure of independence, which in turn forms the basis of self-discipline.
As children progress at their own pace and successfully complete the self-correcting exercises, they develop confidence in their ability to understand what they are learning.
This approach helps eliminate the necessity for coercion, which often causes feelings of inferiority and stress for children.
The Montessori environment includes a fine balance between structure and freedom. The concept of freedom, a freedom that entails responsibility, is gradually introduced from the time the children enter school. Montessori children have a wide variety of constructive paths to choose and are also taught social values. Freedom does not involve only being able to do what you want to do. It involves being able to distinguish what is constructive and beneficial and then being able to carry it out.
A multi-faceted approach to reading and spelling, which includes a phonetic and sight-word approach, plus the colour-coding of materials, enables children to move at their own pace. Command boxes and movable grammar materials excite the children's interest and help them to accomplish more difficult tasks. Montessori's concrete approach to mathematics allows a clear and simplified understanding of our number system. The materials isolate the difficulties and a control of errors exists within the apparatus. Thus, the child is able to perform the work with minimum interference from an adult and therefore receives the satisfaction of self-accomplishment.
Montessori children are extremely adaptable. They have learned to work independently and in groups. Since they have been encouraged to make decisions from an early age, these children are problem-solvers who can make choices and manage their time well.
They also have been encouraged to exchange ideas and to discuss their work freely with others and they have developed good communication skills, which ease the way into new settings.