Who was Maria Montessori?
Born in 1870, Maria Montessori was the first woman doctor in Italy. She became absorbed by child development and in 1907 opened her first ‘Children’s House’ in Rome. She found that the children in the school seemed to work for the joy of working and not for any external reward. This was the start of her philosophy for education to which she devoted the rest of her life
What is special about the method?
From two and a half to six years of age there are sensitive periods in which learning is easy, fun and important to the developing child. The child is ready to put in order the vast quantity of information gathered by the senses since birth. Learning fulfils the child’s inner desire, is absorbing and effortless.
The Montessori Concept of Freedom:
Montessori freedom is structured with good and positive limitations.
These limitations include:
Respect for him/herself: Children are discouraged from being self-destructive and encouraged to build a positive self-image.
Respect for others: Children are not allowed to have a negative effect on others either in an emotional or physical way. They are encouraged to treat the teacher and other children with grace and courtesy.
Respect for the environment: Children are encouraged to care for the materials, plants and animals within the classroom and also to care for the world outside.
Within these limits, children are given the following freedoms:
FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT.
Children are given freedom to move around the classroom in any way they wish as long as they do not infringe on the rights of another child to do the same.
FREEDOM OF CHOICE.
Children are encouraged to choose their own activities to help concentration and fulfil their inner desire to learn and develop good working habits.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH.
Children may talk or not but must also respect the rights of others to talk, remain quiet or listen.
FREEDOM FROM COMPETITION.
Children are encouraged to develop as individuals and their achievements are never judged against others or categorised using points or stars.
FREEDOM FROM DANGER.
The environment must be physically safe. Care must also be taken to safeguard against emotional or spiritual danger.
FREEDOM FROM PRESSURE.
Children should never be subjected to the pressure of meeting the expectations of their peers, the teacher or parents. Children should never be made to participate in group activities if they do not want to.
FREEDOM TO GROW.
Children’s physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual growth all result directly from the previous aspects of freedom.
FREEDOM TO LOVE AND BE LOVED.
This should be unconditional. Children should be respected just for being themselves.