Maria Montessori, often considered the first female physician in Italy, innovated the Montessori approach to education. The Montessori method concentrates on the specific developmental needs of the child. Montessori believed that everyone learns differently, and at their own pace. She created a new type of classroom, a prepared environment, to accommodate and stimulate the individual interests of her students. The Montessori method has successfully been practiced for over a century. Here, at Baan Dek, we’re proud to recognize and carry on that tradition.
The paradox of education is that once you learn something new, you disrupt the way things once were. What makes Montessori so relevant today, is that it prepares children for real world experiences. The focus is not on how to memorize, recite, or even how to solve a problem, but instead how to think through, understand, and ultimately invent new questions, for tasks yet to be determined. In a very real way, we believe that Montessori was the only system of education adequately prepared to address the unique challenges of the twenty-first century.
If there is one trait that exemplifies the success of a Montessori school, it is that their students are creative, socially responsible, and highly independent. If independence is coveted above all else, it is because it creates the freedom that is needed to develop both academically and socially. Essentially, Montessori helps children to think and act for themselves, independently and with the courage of thought.
One way to describe the history of Montessori is to share her scientific observations. She witnessed that children were born with a natural propensity to learn. They didn’t need to be forced, or instructed, they only needed to be taken seriously, and offered the opportunity to learn spontaneously, in accordance with their own interests. When you meet the individual, developmental needs of children, they are empowered to teach themselves.
Maria Montessori was born in Italy in 1870. She graduated from the University of Rome Medical School in 1896 becoming one of the first female Italian physicians. Maria Montessori innovated the Montessori approach to education, which is focused on "following the interests of the child". She spread her vision throughout the world. Montessori died in the Netherlands in 1952.
The Montessori method, philosophy and materials help satisfy the natural tendency of children to follow their interests. As they actively explore the classroom, an emphasis is placed on process, rather than product, and children develop a sense of order, independence, and concentration, as they participate in a community of learners. In a phrase, Montessori offers children the opportunity to form a concrete appreciation of abstract concepts.
One of the most important things to consider when choosing Montessori, is if the Montessori school that you are interested in is certified and if the teachers are Montessori trained. Anyone can use the Montessori name, as Montessori never patented her method, so it’s important to research the qualifications of the school. Baan Dek is the first and only accredited Association Montessori Internationale in the state of South Dakota.
Practical Life, often considered the bedrock of Montessori, serves as a wonderful transition from home to school. Laying the foundations for later work, and building upon current skills, children learn the rhythm of the classroom. By means of a series of activities, from pouring a glass of water to learning how to tie shoelaces, children are afforded the opportunity to discover their independence.
As Montessori believed, and science continues to corroborate, children come to develop an appreciation of the world via their senses. They taste, hear, smell, touch and see, as they navigate their surrounds. At this formative age, they don’t yet have the means to classify what they encounter. The Sensorial area will help children organize their thoughts, as they work to refine their senses.
One of the many unique traits of Montessori is how children come to learn language. Since sounds are the first things children hear, even before they know how to speak, or have developed a lexicon of what specific words mean, we start with phonetics. Emphasis is placed on understanding, as opposed to memorization, as children learn how to write and read. As Montessori says, anyone can learn to read Shakespeare, but not everyone can truly understand.
If there’s one way to describe Montessori, it’s that the only way to understand the abstract, is first through the concrete. Nowhere is this more apparent than in math. Through a series of progressive exercises, children come to develop a deep and rich appreciation for, and understanding of, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, by using physical, tangible materials.
As a renaissance woman, Montessori was committed to the idea that children should be well-rounded, both academically and socially. At this formative stage, she felt that children should be introduced to a wide variety of topics. With this in mind, the Cultural area encapsulates science, botany, zoology, history, and geography. Also, art and music, to be sure, play a vital role.
What Makes Montessori Great
✓Emphasis placed on cognition & social formation.
✓Teacher as guide of classroom.
✓Environment and method promote self-discipline.
✓Primarily individual instruction.
✓Teacher encourages collaboration.
✓Mixed-age group of children. Child chooses their own work.
✓Self-teaching materials help child learn concepts.
✓Child is allocated time to complete lessons.
✓Learning pace set by individual student.
✓Internal reinforcement of learning success.
✓Personal feelings of progress.
✓Child is free to work in the classroom.
✓Group participation elective.
One of the primary reasons there are so many misconceptions about Montessori is because it contains so many layers. Beneath the surface of the activities and materials, an abundance of theories swarm. Over the years, and in a concerted effort to make Montessori more transparent, we’ve collected a series of visuals, to try to extrapolate the rich and fertile soil of Montessori. In many respects, it’s one of those things that needs to be seen, to be believed.
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