The early childhood ages, birth to 6 years, is a time of tremendous growth. The Montessori philosophy of education is based on Maria Montessori’s observation of children. Observing the natural tendencies of child development, her methods educate the whole child in character (moral education), problem solving skills (scientific education), and creative independence (artistic education). When the child’s natural desire to learn is supported, it will foster the foundation to becoming a life-long learner.
Her method in Ancillae-Assumpta Academy's preschool and kindergarten levels provides the materials and system that allow a child to develop concentration, independence, confidence, and freedom to move on this journey at the speed that will build a strong foundation for meeting his fullest potential. In Montessori classrooms around the world, the same materials are utilized for the specific reasons of design and sequencing of skill development. These become the building blocks of the pathway to learning.
“Follow the child, they will show you what they need to do, what they need to develop in themselves, and what area they need to be challenged in.” Dr. Maria Montessori
Pathway to Concentration
The routine of a Montessori classroom assists in a child’s concentration. Children learn patience while waiting for their turn to work with a material of interest. As teachers give demonstrations (lessons) on a material, the children watch and notice the control of movement and organization of the choice. They become interested in the beauty and details of the materials. This helps them to be successful when it is their turn to try. Learning to organize allows a child to move to more complex activities with ease.
Pathway to Independence
Think back to when your child was learning to walk. It was a natural desire to pull herself up and a challenge to take those first steps. Your child accepted this challenge and persevered after each tumble until before long, she was not only walking but running. In a Montessori classroom, a child is given a lesson and then invited to try this material on her own. The materials have controls of error so that the child can see progress. Materials are multi-sensory providing hands-on active learning experiences that optimize the development of skills. Opportunities for repetition allow the child to figure out things on his own. The child’s tendency will be to repeat these lessons until mastery. Once the child is independent in his work, he can further deepen his understanding as he now offers lessons to other children.
Pathway to Confidence
By allowing the child to make choices in his activity, he will be drawn to materials that satisfy his needs at the time in which he is prepared and ready for that challenge. Meeting the child’s needs right where he is allows learning to be a pleasurable and successful experience. Experiences that are filled with joy, discovery, and wonder excite a child’s imagination. It becomes an experience he will continue to seek out. Confidence grows when goals are met with success and celebration at each little step of the journey. The sequence of materials in a Montessori classroom provides a gradation in challenge to promote specific skills to build the confidence to move onto the next challenge.
Pathway to Freedom
As a child gains independence, freedom is given to the child. Teachers prepare materials in the environment to meet the individual interests and skill levels. Routines are established that allow the child to care for their environment (classroom). Learning to respect the classroom community and care for the environment’s materials is a building block for freedom. Accepting responsibility to care for the community, the child is freed to move about the classroom choosing the lessons of strongest interest and challenge. This inner discipline allows a child to know himself and be the unique child that God has created.
Montessori is an educational philosophy that takes in account your child’s individual needs and pacing of development. It is founded in respect for the whole child and fostering a supportive curriculum that allows each child to reach their fullest potential as a member of a community. It is an excellent beginning to a child's educational journey with benefits that will serve the child long into her future.
About the Author
32 years Montessori Classroom experience
24 years Montessori Administrative experience
Certified American Montessori Association and Early Childhood Education
Photography by Alexis Perrine
- Early Education