Where children are the centre of attention

7 February 2018 12:36 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The Montessori method is based on a very deep understanding of the child as it is and not as adults imagine how it should be

What is the Montessori method of education and how does it work is a pertinent question asked with regard to teaching kids. “Help me to do it for myself” a simple explanation of the montessori method of education.   

This quotation aptly captures what the Montessori method of education aims at and what we aim to do for the children in our school.   

The Montessori method is different from all others. It is based on a realistic balance between freedom and structure, specifically designed for the young child. We aim at providing a pleasing environment with carefully devised materials that meet the child’s natural needs. We provide overall guidance through experienced and trained teachers whom we call the directresses.   

The montessori provides the child with a strong base during his/her formative years. This helps in the developing of the individuals to be happy, well-rounded, responsible and a fulfilled person.   

Many of the characteristics which young children have were observed by Dr. Maria Montessori during her initial contact with children. As a result of her observations, she devised a system of early childhood education that was specifically designed to meet the need of the child. Her methods, material and exercises all accord with what the child wants and needs. Hence the Montessori method can help the child to grow in many ways as it actually caters to the inner needs of the child.   

Dr. Maria Montessori devised a whole environment designed to help the child to gain a holistic development. The Montessori environment in our classroom is the child’s real ‘teacher’.

Maria Montessori was born in Italy in 1870. She became the first woman doctor in Italy’s history. Her early work was with retarded and poor children. Through close observation and experiment, the system that she devised enabled these deprived children to attain levels of learning normally associated with average children. Her great triumph came when her ‘retarded’ pupils took state examinations with ‘normal’ children and passed! The educational establishment of the day was compelled to recognise a breakthrough.   

A sensible system   
Her method became known all over the world. Many countries have adopted them into their own educational systems. Today, there is renewed interest in her system in the United Kingdom. The failures of more traditional methods of education are becoming more and more apparent. The Montessori way offers a sensible, structured system that lets the child develop at his or her own pace. The method uses the individual’s ability to the full, with guidance coming from the directress (teacher), who uses specially designed Montessori material.   

The Montessori system has three main parts: The child, the environment and the directress.   

It’s correct that the child should be at the very centre of any system of early education. The Montessori method is based on a very deep understanding of the child as it is and not as adults imagine how it should be. This method allows the child to learn in the way that he/she finds easiest and most natural. Basically doing things on your own teaches the individual to be independent from a small age. Within certain limits the child can choose work that appeals to his/her own inner interests. He/she can exercise his/her sense of freedom and spontaneity. The individual can feel joy and enthusiasm in learning because he or she is doing what he or she wants to do and not what someone has asked the students to do.   

Gradually, the child builds up a strong sense of independence, coupled with an ability to sustain concentration. The individual’s self-confidence grows as his range of skills increases. The Montessori method is founded upon the child’s natural curiosity and the love of learning, instilling a Life song motivation for continuous learning, which will stand him in good stead for the rest of his life. The method also helps the child to stay in touch with his natural growth of development. This avoids forcing him/her to do anything for which he/she is not ready, whilst encouraging him/her to attempt new things as his/her ability increases. In this way we ensure that every child can set its own pace and progress as far and as fast as the individual wishes to. Every child is treated as the individual he or she undoubtedly is and the process of leaning becomes neither boring or frustrating.   

Holistic development   
Dr. Maria Montessori devised a whole environment designed to help the child to gain a holistic development. The Montessori environment in our classroom is the child’s real ‘teacher’, since the child will teach himself/herself through the use of a wide range of scientifically researched and prepared Montessori material. They are child-sized, attractive, simple and often self- correcting. This helps him/her to correct himself/herself if an error is made. Hence it is not necessary for an adult to point out the mistake. By correcting his/her own mistake independently, without adult interference, the child gains self-esteem. Because the child is free to choose his/her own work within a structured and prepared environment and do it at his/her own pace, he can discover his/her own world and build his/her mind and body. The classroom is not a competitive place to prove himself/herself to others hence he/she has many opportunities for success.   

In our Montessori classroom children of varying ages are socially grouped together. The ages usually range from two and a half years to six. This helps the younger children to learn from the older children and also affords the older children the opportunity to reinforce their own knowledge by helping the younger ones. This way of grouping is called ‘vertical grouping’. The classroom becomes an extension of his/her own family home. This is a sound and realistic way of helping social development, confidence and responsibility. The children learn to work independently and with one another and are able concentrate and persevere in their learning. This is possible as the children are provided with guidelines for self-discipline in the form of ‘ground rules’, which are easy to understand and easy for them to remind each other to follow.   

Within this prepared environment, Dr. Montessori clearly observed that the role of the adult is to direct the child’s activity, rather than actually teach in the formally understood sense. Therefore a teacher in a Montessori classroom is called a directress.   

A directress has many jobs to do. Unlike the teacher in a conventional class, she/he is very rarely the centre of attention. Often she/he is hardly noticed among children at work. She/he has no desk and spends much of her/his time working with children at child-sized tables or on a rug. Her/his experience and training makes her/him a very keen observer of children and aware of each child’s fundamental needs of development. The directress’ job is to find the right response from within the resources available in the classroom. This enables the directress to support each child’s development to its fullest. Through the directress’ observations she/he is able to guide the child by introducing him/her to the materials, through presentations to reach from one level of complexity to another. Having expanded the child’s repertoire in this way, she/he will often leave the child with the new material to work with on his/her own, while the directress herself/himself will return to making observations of the class.   

The directress only intervenes only when it is absolutely necessary. She/he is a friendly helper and a guide, who is there when needed by the child. Above all, she/he is someone who helps the child to do things for himself. Thus the simple explanation of the Montessori method of education. “Help me to do it for myself”. 

Applications called for Montessori Teacher Training

AMI Good Shepherd Maria Montessori Training Centre, the only AMI authorized Montessori training Course in Sri Lanka, is now in the process of calling for application for its Diploma Course (two years). At the end of of the course successful candidates are offered an internationally recognized diploma from the Association Montessori Internationale in the Netherlands.  The course is conducted both in English and Sinhala languages.   

Applications can be collected from Montessori Training Centre, St Bridget’s Convent, Colombo 7. Further information regarding the course could be obtained by calling 0112697896 (from 8.30 am to 4.00 pm) or by sending an email to mont2638@sltnet.lk or by writing to The Secretary, Montessori Training Centre, St Bridget’s Convent, Colombo 7.   

Value of montessori education

Doctor Maria Montessori one of the most important educators  of our time, emphasized the need for early education. More recently,  educational research has verified that the early years are the most  important in the life of a child.   

The importance of the above facts and the growing awareness  of the world’s complexities are driving parents to seek a montessori  education for their children. More than just an early education, these  parents are seeking the best education available. The montessori schools  provide a programme especially suited to the needs of the child. The  method not only offers individual attention, but sees to the whole  development of the child. It also provides the foundation on which the  child can build his future, which is so vital for success and happiness.    

Montessori attitudes and philosophy are most consistent  with the needs of the child in the process of developing and learning.  Montessori educational theories are based on natural laws of development  and then correlated for use as an educational system consistent with  these laws.  Because Dr. Montessori’s experiments made the child the  centre of education, her programme is adapted to the interests and needs  of children.

As a result, children concentrate with enthusiasm and  achieve a real and profound understanding of their work. This  intellectual progress is accompanied by emotional growth.   

The children become harmonious in movement, work independently and honestly and are helpful to one another.   

The montessori method contains the greatest possibility for  flexibility in permitting individual lessons and progress, while still  retaining group sessions at no expense to the individual child. 

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