What is “Montessori”?

 

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The Montessori Approach is a philosophy of education with the fundamental belief that a child learns best within a social environment that supports each individual’s unique development.

Montessori Education is an educational system based on profound respect for the child’s personality, helping him grow in all areas of his development. The Montessori Approach differs from other educational approaches because it is based on the principle of freedom within a carefully prepared environment suitable to the nature of the child. The role of the teacher is also a differing point. In the Montessori classroom the teacher is known as a “directress” – she guides, directs and observes the child and one of her main functions is to prepare the environment for the child.

The Port Elizabeth Montessori School is run implementing Dr. Montessori’s philosophy, within the context of our modern society. The underlying philosophy at the School is “learning to love to learn” and everything that occurs within the School will be aimed at achieving this.

We are committed to authentic Montessori practice and base our work and understanding on the work of Dr. Montessori, and seek guidance and support from many global Montessori organisations, schools and individuals.

Who was Maria Montessori?

Dr. Maria Montessori based her educational approach on her observations of young children. As the first female doctor to graduate from the University of Rome, Montessori became involved in the education and treatment of “retarded” children. In 1907, she was invited to run a childcare centre for the children from the slum area of San Lorenzo. She called it “Casa dei Bambini” (Children’s House) and based her programme on her observations that young children learn best in a homelike setting, filled with developmentally appropriate materials that provide experiences contributing to the growth of self-motivated, independent learners.

How does it work?

Each Montessori classroom operates on the principle of freedom within limits – with the limits being as important as the freedom in order to achieve balance. Each Montessori school has its own set of “ground rules”, which may differ from school to school, but are always based on a core Montessori belief – respect for each other and the environment.

The child is free to work at his own pace, with the materials he has chosen. The directress (Montessori term for teacher) relies on her scientific observation to determine which new activities to introduce to the child. The aim is to encourage active, positive and self-directed learning.

The three-year age span (and three year cycle of learning) in each class provides a family-like grouping where learning can take place naturally. More experienced children share what they have learnt with the other children while simultaneously reinforcing their own learning. This encourages an atmosphere of co-operation rather than competition.

GOALS AND OBJECTIVES

  • To develop a positive attitude towards school and learning
  • To develop high self-esteem and self-respect
  • To develop and foster an abiding curiosity through exploration
  • To develop habits of persistence and initiative
  • To foster self-discipline and a sense of order
  • To develop socially acceptable behaviour
  • To acquire basic skills necessary for a lifetime of learning
  • To help develop each child’s innate potential.
  • To encourage active, creative thinkers, within an atmosphere free of fear, ridicule and discrimination.
  • To provide a positive, nurturing framework in which self-disciplined individuals emerge.