Caledon Hills Montessori School
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Philosophy

                               The Montessori Method

 

Dr. Maria Montessori began her career as an educator of children working with a group of fifty children, three to-five years old, on January 6th, 1907 in the city of Rome.  She had at her disposal an untrained assistant, a room, a few pieces of furniture and developmental materials to aid sense perception, which she had previously used when working with mentally handicapped children.  Those children who were older had to be encouraged before their interest was aroused.  Once enticed to use the materials, their attention was volatile.  Dr. Montessori was astonished to see the little ones, however, were intensely attracted by the materials, working spontaneously and repeatedly with them in total concentration.

 

Being a scientist, Dr. Montessori observed and responded to this phenomenon of spontaneous work generated by the apparatus.  Little by little, through the experimental process of trial and error, she created a highly specialised form of apparatus, which afforded the child a source of profound satisfaction.  In addition, she provided an environment suited to and respectful of the children’s inherent characteristics.  This we call “the prepared environment”.

 

“Help Me Do It By Myself”

This statement, written by Maria Montessori many years ago summarises the spirit of the Montessori program.  Dr. Montessori was a woman many years ahead of her time.  Her deep concern, respect and understanding of the child, the child’s natural curiosity and love of knowledge have greatly changed the course of early childhood education.  Many ideas postulated by Maria Montessori are now being heralded as new discoveries.  She felt that the goal of early childhood education was to cultivate the child’s own natural desire to learn.

 

In the Montessori classroom this objective is approached in two ways: firstly, by allowing each child the opportunity to experience the excitement of learning by choice rather than being forced; and secondly, by helping the child to perfect all its natural tools for learning.  In this way, the child’s ability will be at maximum in future learning situations.

 

The program is designed to assist the child in self-development.  The child follows inner directives, and the Montessori environment provides him/her with the developmentally appropriate materials for him/her to develop to his/her greatest potential.  The children are free to respond to their drive to work and learn.


The Montessori Method Cont’d…

 

The use of the materials is based on the young child’s unique aptitude for learning.  Dr. Montessori called this the “absorbent mind”.  The young child literally absorbs information from his/her environment.  This is particularly evident if you examine how easily your child has learned language.  If your family communicates in English, your child learns English with ease.  If your family speaks French, your child learns French easily.  Acquiring information in this way is a natural and delightful activity for the young child who employs all his/her senses to investigate his/her interests and surroundings.

 

Modern research has reinforced Dr. Montessori’s observation that young children have certain times in their life when they have an intense fascination for learning a particular characteristic or skill, such as climbing steps, putting things in order, counting or reading.  It is during this period of time in the life of the child that it is easier than at any other time, to master this particular skill.  The Montessori classroom takes advantage of this fact by providing a specially prepared environment.  A child, who acquires the basic skills of reading and arithmetic in this natural way, has the advantage of beginning his/her education without boredom, or discouragement.  By pursuing his/her individual interests in a Montessori classroom, he/she gains an early enthusiasm for learning, which is the key to becoming a truly educated person.  We are here to provide the environment necessary for your child to grow and develop as a well-rounded happy individual.

 

The Montessori prepared environment is a very special place.  It is known in Montessori terms as a Casa de Bambini or Children’s House.  Everything in this learning environment is designed to reinforce the child’s need for independence.  Class grouping is from three-to-six years of age.  The classroom is quiet and spacious and the furniture and all of the materials are child-sized and developmentally appropriate.  While the children’s need for independence is addressed, their social skills and compassion are also encouraged as a member of the classroom community.  Everyone is important.

 

The Montessori learning materials are not the method itself, but rather the tools that are used to stimulate the children into logical thought and discovery.

 

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