The Light of the Child - Montessori School

Dr. Maria Montessori

Dr. Maria Montessori lived from 1870 to 1952. She was the first female Doctor of Medicine in Italy. Through her extensive work with children and scientific background the Montessori Method was born. The Montessori Method is applicable and beneficial to all children. She has had an extraordinary impact on the way we understand and teach children today.

There is always a busy hum of activity in a Montessori classroom because the use of the materials involves many motions – walking, carrying, pouring, speaking and the constant use of hands. All activity is guided by a respect for the teacher, a respect for other children and a respect for the materials themselves.

Dr. Maria Montessori felt that young children learned by doing, and that they acquire self discipline by learning to concentrate on meaningful tasks.

She pioneered the use of materials or "works" to aid in the development of all children.

Montessori’s aim was to help the unfolding of life, to understand the needs of the child, to draw out from each individual all of which he was capable, and to develop the full potential locked within each child. This is our aim, the discover the light of each child.

Educators and psychologists today realize the importance of the first few years of a child’s life. It is on the foundations laid there that the patterns of the child’s entire future will be established. Montessori was one of the first to discover that fact and apply it to practical principles. 


Traditional vs. Montessori

The goal of both Montessori and traditional pre-schools is the same: to provide learning experiences for the child. The biggest differences lie in the kind of learning experiences each school provides and the methods they use to accomplish this goal. Montessori educators believe these differences are important because they help shape how a child learns, his work habits and his future attitudes toward himself and the world around him.
Montessori Method Traditional Method
Emphasis on: cognitive and social development Emphasis on: social development
Teacher has unobtrusive role in classroom Teacher is the center of classroom as "controller"
Environment and method encourage self-discipline Teacher acts as primary enforcer of discipline
Mainly individual instruction Group and individual instruction
Mixed age grouping Same age grouping
Grouping encourages children to teach and help each other
Child chooses own work with guidance when necessary Most teaching done by teacher
Child discovers own concepts from self-correcting materials Child is guided to concepts by teacher
Child works as long as he wishes on chosen project Child generally allotted specific time for work
Child sets own learning pace Instruction pace usually set by group norm
Child spots own errors from feedback of material If work is corrected, errors usually pointed out by teacher
Child reinforces own learning by repetition of work and internal feelings of success Learning is reinforced externally by repetition and rewards
Multi-sensory materials for physical exploration Fewer materials for sensory development
Organized program for learning care of self and environment (polishing shoes, cleaning the sink, etc.) Less emphasis on self-care instruction
Child can work where he chooses, move around and talk at will (yet not disturb work of others);group work is voluntary Child is usually assigned own chair: encouraged to participate, sit still, and listen during group sessions

Uniqueness of Montessori Education

The whole child approach

The primary goal of Montessori is to help each child reach their fullest potential. Montessori activities promote development of social skills, emotional growth, physical coordination and cognitive preparation for their future. Under the guidance of American Montessori Society certified teachers children develop a love of learning, confidence, autonomy, and self esteem.


The prepared environment

The environment is prepared with necessary resources and opportunities for children in a safe and positive environment. This allows the child to be self directed in an environment with materials and a social atmosphere set by the teacher. The child develops a relationship with the teacher based on respect and trust. This fosters self confidence and a willingness to try new things.

The Montessori materials: A lesson is given slowly

Dr. Montessori observed through her studies the kinds of things children enjoy and holds their attention. This is the basis for creating captivating, self correcting materials for children to learn and explore.

Children are introduced to the materials in a careful presentation. A lesson is given slowly and precisely to the child. The child is able to observe carefully without interruption. These discernible steps are in order to increase understanding and success when the child uses the materials later. Points of Interest are shown to attract the child’s attention. Variations and Extensions are given to each lesson building upon fundamentals


The teacher

The teacher embraces the individualism that makes each child wonderfully unique.  She helps develop and nurture the "light of each child," as stated by Dr. Montessori.  Education is acquired not by listening to words, but by experiences in the environment. 


Benefits & Goals of the Montessori Methods

Goals of Montessori

  • Developing a positive attitude toward school.
  • Helping each child develop self confidence.
  • Assisting each child build a habit of concentration
  • Developing cognitive skills
  • Self Motivation
  • Fostering inner security and sense of order in the child

Benefits of Montessori

  • Child centered environment
  • Children work for joy of working and self discovery
  • The environment provides a natural sense of order an discipline
  • Each child needs and uniqueness is recognized
  • There is an emphasis on concrete learning rather than on abstract learning - Children need to experience concepts "hands on"
  • Self correcting materials within the environment. Children learn through their own errors to make correct decisions versus having the teacher point them out.


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