Maria Montessori was an Italian doctor and teacher who lived from August 31, 1870, to May 6, 1952. She is best known for her philosophy of education, which is named after her. Her way of teaching is still used in public and private schools all over the world today.

When she graduated in 1896, Maria Montessori was the first woman in Italy to become a doctor. Her natural intellectual interest led her to study the minds of children and how they learn. She believed that environment was a big part of how a child grows up.

On January 6, 1902, Dr. Montessori opened her first Casa Dei Bambini, or house for children, in an area of Rome called San Lorenzo. It was in an apartment building. As part of her work at the University of Rome, she had been developing her ideas about education and Montessori materials while working with abandoned and intellectually-challenged children. It was at this school that she made them even better.

Montessori combined the ideas and methods of philosophers Itard and Seguin, who said that children learn best by using their senses and building on what they already know, with those of Froebel and Pestalozzi, who said that children learn best by doing things. Montessori thought that teachers should follow the child by giving them safe, interesting places to learn where they could choose activities based on what interested them. She thought that kids under 6 wanted to be independent, and their catch phrase was:

“Help me figure it out on my own”

Dr. Montessori’s work has been a source of inspiration for children and teachers for more than a century. It is still as well-known and respected as it was when she first became famous in 1907. In 1949, 1950, and 1951, Dr. Montessori was put forward for the Nobel Peace Prize.

How Montessori education works – the principles

Montessori found that a child goes through four stages of development as they grow up.

  • From birth to age six, a child’s “absorbent mind” allows them to learn everything about their environment, language, and culture.
  • In the second plane, from ages six to twelve, the child uses a “reasoning mind” to think about and imagine the world in abstract ways.
  • In the third plane, from 12 to 18, the teen has a “humanistic mind” that wants to learn more about people and how he or she can help society.
  • In the last stage of development, between the ages of 18 and 24, an adult explores the world with a “specialist mind” and finds his or her place in it.

At Wattle Montessori, the first plane of development’s ideas and ways of doing things are used.

The first principle – The Absorbent Mind.

Unconscious Absorption

  • Montessori thought that a baby could learn about his or her environment just by being in it. She showed this by talking about how a child learns to talk.
  • Montessori thinks that the first three years are based on unconscious absorbption.
  • We don’t know that the child has been absorbing things from the environment until the child makes them conscious, like when the child says his or her first word.
  • A baby’s senses take in everything he sees, hears, feels, and tastes. The child puts everything he touches in his mouth and looks at it closely.

Conscious Level

  • Around age 3, a child starts to be aware of what he or she has already learned and continues to take in.
  • The child is now starting to put things into groups, such as different shades of red for the colour red.
  • This substage, which lasts until about age six, is marked by learning language and mastering physical movements.

Second Principle: There are good times to learn

  • Montessori thought that there are times in a child’s life when it is easier for them to learn.
  • Once these times have passed, they can still learn, but they have to work at it.
  • These are now called “windows of opportunity,” and new brain research has shown that they are real.

From zero to six years the child is sensitive to:

  • Order
  • Acquiring Language
  • Movement
  • Social Aspects of Life
  • Small Objects
  • Learning Through the Senses.

Guiding Montessori Principles

  • The child wants to learn.
  • The child has an innate tendency to explore.
  • The child wants to choose it and do it for him/herself.
  • The child learns through his/her senses.
  • The hand is the chief instrument of the brain.
  • The child wants to do what we do and use the same things we use.
  • The child is fascinated by small objects.
  • The child likes things to be orderly and beautiful.
  • The child wants a chance to practice things
  • The child wants to do it right.
  • Practice makes perfect and permanent.
  • The child is interested in his /her social group.
  • The child has an intense desire to communicate and is particularly receptive to language.