Is It For All Children?

Is It For All Children?

The Montessori system has been used successfully with children aged from 2 ½ from all socio-economic, emotional, mental and physical levels. Montessori schools believe very strongly that intelligence is not fixed at birth, nor is the human potential anywhere near as limited as it sometimes seems in traditional education.  We know that each child is a full and complete individual in his/her own right.  Even when children are very small, they deserve to be treated with the full and sincere respect that we would extend to their parents.  Respect breeds respect, and creates an atmosphere within which learning is tremendously facilitated.

Success at school is directly tied to the degree to which children believe that they are capable and independent human beings. If they knew the words, even young children would ask: “Help me learn to do it for myself”! The Montessori system allows children to develop a meaningful degree of independence and self-discipline, which sets a pattern for a lifetime of good work habits and a sense of responsibility.  Children learn to take pride in doing things for themselves carefully and well. Montessori schools treat each child as a unique individual.  Children learn at their own pace, and learn in ways that work best for them to discover and develop their own talents and possibilities.

The goal is flexible and creative.

Learning the right answers may get a child through school, learning how to become a life-long, independent learner will take her anywhere! Montessori teaches children to think, not simply to memorise, regurgitate, and forget.

What Is It?

What Is It?

It is a system of education in both a philosophy of child growth and a rational for guiding such growth. It is based on a child’s developmental needs for freedom within limits and a carefully prepared environment that guarantees exposure to materials and experience through which to develop intelligence as well as physical and psychological abilities.  It is designed to take full advantage of the self-motivation and unique ability of young children to develop their own capabilities.  Children need adults to expose them to the possibilities of their lives, but the children themselves must direct their responses to those possibilities.

Key principles of Montessori education are:

· Children are to be respected and treated as individuals.

· Children possess unusual sensitivity and mental ability to absorb and learn from their environment, unlike adults, both in quality and capacity.

· The most important years of growth are the first six years of life, when unconscious learning is gradually brought to a conscious level.

· Children have a deep love and need for purposeful work (play). The child works, however, not as an adult for profit and completion of a task, but for the   sake of the activity itself.

· Montessori identified “the universal characteristics of childhood” from her observations of children of different cultures at various stages in their development. These characteristics can be summed up as follows:

· All children have ‘absorbent minds’ & pass through ‘sensitive periods’.

· All children want to learn & learn through play (work)

· All children want to be independent.

The absorbent mind:

A child is fundamentally different from an adult in the way he/she learns. He/she has what Montessori called an absorbent mind, one that unconsciously soaks up information from the environment, learning at a rapid rate.  This capacity to learn in this way is unique to the young child and lasts for the first six years of his/her life (more or less).

During this time, the impressions made on the child’s mind actually shape and form it, and therefore have an impact on future development.

From birth to three years this process of learning is mainly passive, whereas from three to six years this process becomes active. It is at this time that new skills are acquired rapidly as well. It is imperative that at this time children are guided (safely) to experience all aspects of their environment and are given the freedom to follow what interests them the most.

Sensitive periods:

From her observations of children Montessori noticed that they seemed to pass through phases when they will focus on one aspect of their environment to the exclusion of all else.  They will repeat this activity time and time again, showing their predisposition to develop new knowledge and skills through their senses. It is at this time that tantrums are prevalent as it is the child’s way of saying that his/her need to learn (experience) is unsatisfied.

Sensitivity to order

Sensitivity to language

Sensitivity to movement

Sensitivity to the social aspects of life

Sensitivity to small objects

Sensitivity to sensorial learning.

Children want to learn:

It is impossible to stop children from learning at this stage in their development as it is also time when they model themselves on the adults around them and imitate this behaviour. Montessori once wrote that the hand is the instrument of the mind.  By this she recognised the connection of movement and the brain.  In other words, the development of the child’s mind is directly related to his/her physical movements (actions and experiences). Having identified these ‘universal characteristics of childhood’, Maria Montessori then concentrated on how best to implement these discoveries in the education of children. To do this she formulated what is now called the Montessori Method.

The main aims are:

·  To facilitate the development of the child’s unique personality.

·  To help him become socially and emotionally well adjusted and grow up as a physically strong and happy child.

·  To help make it possible for him to develop to his full intellectual capacity.

How Did It Begin?

How Did It Begin?

Dr Montessori, the first women to graduate from the University of Tome Medical School, became interested in education as a doctor treating mentally handicapped children.  After returning to the university ,for further study, she began her work with non-handicapped children on the in 1904.  In her research, Dr Montessori noted the specific characteristics associated with the child’s interests and abilities at each plane of development.  She argued that a school carefully designed to meet the needs and interests of the child would work more effectively because it would not fight human nature. Montessori taught teachers how to “follow the child” through careful observation, allowing each child to reveal his/her strengths, weaknesses, interests and anxieties, and strategies that work best to facilitate the development of the child’s human potential.


This focus on the “whole child” led by Dr Montessori to develop a very different sort of school from the traditional adult centered classroom.  To emphasise this difference, she named her first school the “Casa dei Bambini” (Children’s House). There is something profound in her choice of words, for the Montessori classroom is not the domain of the adults in charge, but rather it is a carefully prepared environment designed to facilitate the development of the child’s independence and sense of personal empowerment.