Maria Montessori was born in Chiaravalle, Italy, August 31, 1870. Her parents tried to convince her to become a teacher, but Maria was interested in mathematics and engineering. In 1883, Montessori attended a technical school where she became interested in biology and the field of medicine, which Pope Leo declared to be “the best profession for women.”
In 1896, Montessori became the first woman doctor to graduate from the University of Rome Medical School. She joined the staff of the University Psychiatric clinic where she worked with developmentally delayed children. In 1907, Montessori opened the first “Casa de Bambini” (Children’s House) in the slums of San Lorenzo, Italy. It was here that Montessori first realized the powerful learning abilities of the younger child and witnessed the conversion of the child through normalization. In 1952, Dr. Maria Montessori died at age 81 and is buried in Holland.
Montessori classrooms are known as “prepared environments”, and a great deal of thought goes into making them feel like the “Casa Dei Bambini”, or Children’s House, that Montessori named her first school. It should be a child’s home away from home, and be as attractive and comfortable as possible. It is an environment created to reinforce the children’s independence and intellectual development, and to stimulate discussion and collaborative learning. Within the classroom, the curriculum areas reflect not only the interest area for which each is named, but also their connections to all the other areas, supporting and expanding their knowledge of the world.
Elements of Montessori
It includes five key learning areas including
Montessori practical life exercises are designed to prepare your child for daily living by teaching them how to interact with their environment.Practical Life activities help children learn how to care for themselves and their environment. These activities help the child to become more independent, leading to greater self-confidence, and the ability to face new challenges. Practical Life exercises include lessons in grace and courtesy, care for self, and care for the environment. The purpose of these activities is to enhance co-ordination, concentration, independence, and indirectly prepare children for writing and reading. Activities often include cleaning, food preparation, polishing and watering plants.
Sensorial materials were designed by Doctor Maria Montessori to help children express and classify their sensory experiences. Exposure to sensory information, such as dimension, color, shape, texture, smell, and taste, helps your child classify and categorize the things around them as they explore the world.The purpose of sensorial activities is to aid in the development of the intellectual senses of the child, which develops the ability to observe and compare with precision.
Montessori math exercises focus on bringing order to your child’s experiences. This area of learning prepares the mind for further exploration by first introducing sequential work including an understanding of numbers through ten. Each exercise builds upon another and your child gradually moves from concrete to abstract areas such as place value, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and fractions. Activities dealing with mathematics are not implemented at a set pace, allowing your child to grow at their own natural pace.
Language is explored phonetically in a Montessori classroom. Initial alphabet sounds are first introduced through the sandpaper letters and matching objects. After the children learn a few sounds, they are then introduced to blending exercises with the moveable alphabet. The metal insets are an exercise used to refine pencil control and help to improve writing skills.
Montessori cultural exercises focus on allowing your child to experience their place in the world and gain an appreciation and respect for differences.Culture allows the child to explore the natural world around them and includes:
Geography (continents, landforms, earth layers, solar system),
Zoology (classification, physiology of animals),
Botany (ecology, classification, physiology of plants),
History (time lines, using a calendar),