1. Who was Maria Montessori?
Born in 1870, Maria Montessori was Italy's first woman M.D. and became an Ardent advocate of the rights of both women and children during the first half of the twentieth century. She developed her interests in the education of the very young child, and devoted her life to the education of children. At the time of her death in 1952, she had been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize and was honored and respected throughout the world.
2. What is the Montessori Method?
The Montessori Method is an approach to learning which emphasizes the potential of the young child, and which devolops this potential by means of a unique teaching method; utilizing specially trained teachers and special teaching materials. It is a method of teaching that develops the intellect and stability of a child, beginning with the three year old.
3. Do children show periods of specific maturational aptness?
Sensitive periods are Maria Montessori's name for age periods when a child shows unusual capabilities in acquiring particular skills. For example, the sensitive period for writing is between 3 1/2 and 4 1/2. The recognition of words leading to reading and number recognition is 3 to 5. Precise movement and coordination usually takes place betwwn 2 1/2 and 4. Dr. Montessori found that a child is able to absorb more readily different subjects at different ages, or periods of growth.
4. How do children do when transferring from a Montessori school to a traditional setting?
Children who begin Montessori at an early age seem to adjust rapidly to many different types of schools. The skills learned in the Montessori enviroment, such as self direction, initiative, self-disipline and independence, are easily adaptable to most situations.
5. How can I know if I've found a 'real' Montessori School?
The following ideas are excerpted from The Authentic American Montessori School: A Guide to the Self-Study, Evaluation, and Accreditation of American Schools Committed to Montessori Education, by Dr. Nancy McCormick Rambush and Dr. John Stoops, published in 1992 by the Commission on Elementary Schools of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and by the American Montessori Society.
6. The Montessori Learning Environment
A Child-Centered Environment. The focus of activity in the Montessori setting is on children's learning, not on teacher's teaching. Generally students will work individually or in small, self-selected groups.
7. A Responsive, Prepared Environment
The environment should be designed to meet the needs, interests, abilities, and development of the children in the class. The teachers should design and adapt the environment with this community of children in mind, rapidly modifying the selection of educational materials available, the physical layout, and the tone of the class to fit the ever changing needs of the children.
8. A Focus on Individual Progress and Development
Within a Montessori program, children progress at their own pace, moving on to the next step in each area of learning as they are ready. While the child lives within a larger community of children, each student is viewed as a universe of one.
9. Freedom Within Limits
Montessori children enjoy considerable freedom of movement and choice; however, their freedom always exists within carefully defined limits on the range of their behavior. They are free to do anything appropriate to the ground rules of the community, but they are redirected promptly and firmly if they cross over the line.
10. A Family Setting
Montessori classrooms are communities of children and adults. As children grow older and more capable, they assume a great role in helping to care for the environment and meeting the needs of younger children in the class. The focus is less on the teachers and more on the entire community of children and adults, much like one finds in a real family.
11. Can I do Montessori at home with my child?
Yes, you can use Montessori principles of child development at home. Look at your home through your child's eyes. Children need a sense of belonging, and they get it by participating fully in the routines of everyday life.
12. What ages does Montessori serve?
There are more Montessori programs for ages 3-6 than for any other age group, but Montessori is not limited to early childhood.
13. Who accredits or oversees Montessori schools?
Unfortunately, there is no way to limit the use of the name "Montessori." Parents must carefully research, and observe a classroom in operation, in order to choose a real Montessori school for their child. At Least One AMS or AMI Certified Teacher in each Classroom Environment. Documented proof of a Montessori teacher's credential for a specific age from either American Montessori Society or Association Montessori Internationale.
14. Universal Values
Montessori deliberately teaches children not only appropriate patterns of polite behavior, but seeks to instill basic universal values within the core of the child's personality. These values include self-respect, acceptance, of the uniqueness and dignity of each person we meet, kindness, peacefulness, compassion, empathy, honor, individual responsibility, and courage to speak from our hearts.
"The child is truly a miraculous being, and this should be felt deeply by the educator."
Dr. Maria Montessori
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