The Montessori philosophy originates in the teachings of Maria Montessori, who focused on the development of the human individual through all stages of childhood. Montessori focused on the role of childhood in the formation of adults; she is a formidable progenitor of so much of today's thought concerning early childhood education. For Montessori, education is considered integral to the development of the child. At the same time, it's important to note that the Montessori philosophy is not restricted to education.
The Montessori method
As an educational method, Montessori teaching focuses on the child's experience, characterized by a focus on self-directed activity, where the instructor's role is more observational than what might be considered traditional or typical. The instructor is sometimes called a guide in the Montessori philosophy. In Montessori education, the environment is adapted to the child and his or her development. Seatwork is downplayed in favour of physical activity and interaction.
Montessori classrooms tend to fascinate children and their parents. They are commonly referred to as a ‘prepared environment’, a term that reflects the care and attention that is given to creating a learning environment that will reinforce the children’s independence and intellectual development. The Montessori classroom is organized into several curriculum areas, usually including: language arts (reading, literature, grammar, creative writing, spelling, and handwriting); mathematics and geometry; everyday living skills;
puzzles; geography; history; science and art. Students are typically found scattered around the classroom. It may take a moment to spot the guides as they will normally be found working with one or two children at a time or presenting a new lesson. Montessori children are free to move about, working alone or with others at will. They may select any activity and work with it in their own time, so long as they do not disturb anyone, damage anything and put materials back where they belong when finished.
The Montessori classroom is a learning laboratory in which children are allowed to explore, discover and select their own work. Children become comfortable and confident in their abilities to master the environment, ask questions, puzzle out the answer, and learn without the constant intervention of an adult.