The Montessori Education system was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori who was also the first woman in Italy to become a physician. She laid her educational methods on scientific observation of children’s learning process. Dr. Montessori designed a “prepared environment” where children could freely choose from a number of learning activities. The major five factors making this method unique are:
How it is different from traditional method: This method emphasizes on learning through all five senses, not just through listening, watching or reading. Children attending these classes learn at their own pace by getting involved in their own choice of activities from a variety of possibilities. People offering these classes know that learning can be an exciting process of discovery, leading to concentration, self-discipline, motivation and a love of learning. Children are placed here in three-year age groups (3-6, 6-9, 9-12, and so on), forming communities where the older children share their knowledge with the younger ones.
Basic lessons: The teacher spends an adequate amount of time during her “teacher training session” involving with materials in all areas. In order to be satisfied she must also pass a written and an oral exam on these lessons. She is trained to recognize a child's readiness according to ability, age, and interest in a specific lesson.
Size of Class: Except for the toddler groups, the teaching ratio is one teacher (who is very well trained for the level she is teaching), to 30-35 children with one non-teaching assistant. This teacher does not dictate or give assignments to children nor does she set a limit as to how far a child follows an interest. The children stay in these groups for three to four years and much of the learning comes from the group activity and the environment.
Learning styles: These schools nurture all kinds of intelligences and styles of learning such as musical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic , interpersonal, intuitive, intrapersonal, and the traditional linguistic and logical-mathematical (reading, writing, and math).
Assessment: Assessment of the child is by the portfolio and teacher’s observation and record keeping. This method does assigns grades or rewards or any form of punishment. Behavior and accomplishments of children is considered as the impact factor of the working of the system. Their happiness, kindness, maturity, their love of learning and level of work determines success of this teaching method.
Along with academic education, children also gain education of character through these schools. They learn to take care of themselves, their surroundings and environment, they develop skills such as—cooking, building, gardening, speaking politely, moving gracefully, doing social work in the community, cleaning, being considerate and helpful, etc.
Above all, Montessori classrooms at all levels nurture each child’s individual strengths and interests. Montessori education encourages children to explore their world and to understand and respect the life forms, systems and forces of which it consists.
A member of Indian Montessori Centre (IMC)
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