What is the Montessori Method?
Maria Montessori was born in Italy in 1870 and continued her work in education up until her death in 1952. Ahead of her time, she was the first woman in Italian history to earn a medical doctor’s degree. After practicing medicine for only a few years, she embarked on the career path for which she would become famous – as an enlightened educator for young children.
She was convinced that the conventional methodology of schooling left much to be desired and developed her own system to enable children to learn. This involved creating a carefully structured and stimulating environment where children are exposed to many materials and activities from which they learn. Most parents are amazed when they first see the richness of materials in a Montessori classroom; it is certainly different from the typical classroom in our public schools.
Maria Montessori designed her materials along “sensorial” lines to allow the children to discover, learn and develop using all their senses. Sandpaper letters and numbers, geometric shapes to manipulate and compare, wooden blocks and beads for adding and multiplying, and so much more all contribute to the child’s understanding of the world around him.
Dr. Montessori consistently taught reading and writing to children between the ages of four and six, well below the expected norm in our public school system. In fact, she was of the firm belief that this was the best time to do so. She believed that children must re-create whatever it is that they are learning in order to understand it, and for this reason, she taught these vital skills in the reverse order from our usual educational standard – writing, and then reading.