The Montessori childcare method applies an educational approach to children based on the research and experiences of Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori (1870–1952). It arose essentially from Dr. Montessori’s discovery of what she referred to as “the child’s true normal nature”. The teacher’s role of observation sometimes includes experimental interactions with children, commonly referred to as “lessons,” to resolve misbehavior or to show how to use the various self-teaching materials that are provided in the environment for the children’s free use. The method is primarily applied with young children (2–6), due to the young child’s unique instincts and sensitivity to conditions in the environment.
The founder of this method of teaching was a lady called Maria Montessori, the first woman in Italy to graduate in medicine from the University of Rome. Maria worked with disabled and mentally challenged children in the early 1900s. In 1907, she opened the Casa dei Bambini, where she taught children of normal intelligence using her methods from her research in philosophy, child development and education. She spent most of her remaining life writing, lecturing and teaching about her methods.
The benefits of a Montessori education are numerous. The main goal of Montessori is to provide a stimulating, child oriented environment that children can explore, touch, and learn without fear. Each child learns at his or her own pace. Teachers are understanding and encouraging, so that the child can enjoy learning, and feel happy about her path and purpose in life. Here are some of the benefits:-
• Montessori schools teach independence from an early age. The children take an active part in running their school, like preparing and serving at the drinks break, and putting learning equipment away after they have used it. Practical tasks like sweeping, polishing, making sandwiches and tying shoe laces, are all available for children to learn on a daily basis.
• Children are not expected to conform to set standards of achievement as in conventional schools. The Montessori method takes account of the needs, talents, gifts, and special individuality of each child. The children learn at their own pace, so they are not being constrained nor criticised for what they do. There is a total freedom to learn which makes the learning fun.
• All children, whatever their abilities or interests, reach their full potential. All children fit in, including children with learning disabilities. Many children learn best in different ways, and the equipment is designed for this. For example, one piece of equipment is the sand alphabet – the letters of the alphabet in sand on card. The child traces over the sand letter with his/her finger, and then writes the letter on paper. For all subjects there are items of interest to the child. For example, for geography, not only are there books, but globes, map puzzles, pictures, and animal figures (sensory items). There are also regular visits from people, pets, animals, and different activities depending on the topic being taught.
• In a Montessori environment children are encouraged to respect and help each other. If they choose, they will work with other children, and help each other, or ‘teach’ each other, and they enjoy doing so.
• The environment of a Montessori school is peaceful and facilitates learning. Because children are happy and learning at their own pace, discipline is usually not an issue.
To find Montessori and Childcare courses in Ireland, view our Montessori Course Listings on Findacourse.ie