“Free the child’s potential and you will transform him into the world.”~ Maria Montessori
Maria Montessori’s Method
Maria Montessori was born in 1870 and was the first woman to be granted a medical degree by an Italian university. Influenced by the work of Seguin and Itard in France, Montessori designed materials and techniques that allowed children to work in areas previously considered beyond their capacity. Through her observations, Montessori realized that the learning experience occurs naturally and joyfully at the proper moment for each individual child; She wrote, “It is true, we cannot make a genius”, “We can only give each individual the chance to fulfill his potential possibilities to become an independent, secure, and balanced human being”Montessori’s life work began with a group of disadvantaged children in 1907 when she opened her famous Casa de Bambini. She developed an approach that acknowledged the first six years of life to be the most important in human development. Dr. Montessori discovered that during these early years children have an amazing capacity to absorb knowledge from their surroundings. She frequently compared the young mind to a sponge and called this phenomenon “The Absorbent Mind”. Children teach themselves! This is the underlying theme that Montessori stresses throughout her philosophy of early childhood education. Montessori saw in the child a natural desire to work and learn. She emphasized that the hand is the chief teacher of the child. In order to learn, there must be concentration, and the best way a child can concentrate is by fixing his attention on some task he is performing with his hands. All the unique Montessori materials in a classroom allow the child to reinforce his casual impressions by inviting him to use his hands for learning. Another observation of Dr. Montessori was the importance of the “Sensitive Periods” for early learning. These are periods of intense fascination for learning a particular characteristic or skill. It is easier for the child to learn a particular skill during the corresponding sensitive period than at any other time in a child’s life. Montessori-based classrooms take advantage of this fact by allowing the child freedom to select individual activities which correspond to his or her own period of interest.
Dr. Montessori’s whole approach to education was in the spirit of constant experimentation based on the observation of the child. One of Montessori’s primary goals was to promote the development of social skills, emotional growth, and cognitive preparation so every child could fulfill their utmost potential. She believed that the potential of the child is not just mental, but is revealed only when the complete “Montessori method” is understood and followed. The child’s choice, practical work, care of others and the environment, and above all the high levels of concentration reached when work is respected and not interrupted, reveal a human being that is superior not only academically, but emotionally and spiritually, a child who cares deeply about other people and the world, and who works to discover a unique and individual way to contribute. This is the essence of real “Montessori” work today.
Dedicated to the Montessori method, Irvine Montessori School implements these unique Montessori characteristics as part of our everyday curriculum.