Frequently Asked Questions

Key premises of Montessori education are:
1.         Children are to be respected as different from adults and as individuals who differ from each other.
2.         Children possess unusual sensitivity and mental powers for absorbing and learning from their environment that
            are unlike those of adults, both in quantity and capacity.
3.         The most important years of growth are the first six years of life, when unconscious learning is gradually brought to conscious level.
4.         Children have a deep love and need for purposeful work.  The child works, however, not as an adult for profit and completion of a job, but for the sake of the activity itself.  It is this activity which accomplishes the most important goal for the child, the development of his or her mental, physical and psychological powers.

HOW DID IT BEGIN?
Dr Maria Montessori, the first woman to graduate from the University of Rome Medical School, became interested in education as a doctor treating retarded children.  After returning to the University for further study, she began her work with normal children in 1907, when she was invited to organize schools in a reconstructed slum area of San Lorenzo, Italy.  Later, she travelled all over the world lecturing about her discoveries and founding schools.  She has written approximately fifteen volumes and numerous articles on education.  She died in 1952.

IS IT FOR ALL CHILDREN?
The Montessori system has been used successfully with children age 2½ - 6 years from all socio-economic levels, representing those in regular classes as well as the gifted, the retarded, the emotionally disturbed and the physically handicapped.
It is also appropriate for classes in which the pupil to teacher ratio is high, because the children learn at an early age to work independently.

IS THE CHILD FREE TO DO WHAT HE CHOOSES IN THE CLASSROOM?
The child is free to move about the classroom at will, to talk to other children, to work with any equipment he or she understands, or to ask the teacher to introduce new material to him or her.  The child is not free to disturb other children at work or to abuse the equipment that is so important to the child’s development.

WHAT DOES THE TEACHER DO?
The directress works with individual children, introducing materials and giving guidance where needed.  A primary task is careful observation of each child in order to determine his or her needs and to gain the knowledge needed in preparing the environment to aid each child's growth. 

The method of teaching is indirect, in that it neither imposes upon the child as in direct teaching, nor abandons the child as in a non-directive permissive approach.  Rather, the teacher is constantly alert to the direction in which the child has indicated he or she wishes to go, and actively works to help the child achieve his or her goals.

WHAT DOES IT DO FOR THE CHILD?
Observers of Montessori children have described them as having developed self-discipline, self-knowledge, and independence, as well as enthusiasm for learning, an organized approach to problem solving, and academic skills.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN CHILDREN GO FROM A MONTESSORI CLASS TO A TRADITIONAL CLASS?
The children appear to adjust readily to new classroom situations.  In all likelihood this is because they have developed a high degree of self-discipline and independence in the Montessori environment, and because of the adaptability of young children in general. They are also ready to enter into the International Schools where their curriculum starts at age 5 and it is expected that the child should have numeracy and literacy abilities to fit in with their standards.

A COMPARISON OF PRE-SCHOOL EDUCATION

MONTESSORI

TRADITIONAL

1. Child chooses materials

1.Teacher sets curriculum

2. Child sets own pace

2. Teacher sets pace

3. Child is free to discover on his own

3. Teacher guides the child

4. Emphasis is on the concrete

4. Emphasis is on the abstract

5. Reality orientated

5. Much role play and fantasy

6. Specific places for materials – sense of order

6. Random placement – not necessary to return to specific place

7. Child-centred learning environment

7. Teacher-centred environment

8. Child provides own stimulus

8. Teacher provides stimuli to learning

9. Self-education through self correcting materials

9. Use of reward and punishment in motivation

10. Recognition of sensitive periods

10. All children are treated alike

11. Multi-sensory materials to develop specific skills

11. Play materials for non-specific skills

12. Liberty to move about self and furniture

12. Rigid rules not to move furniture and sit in designated places

13. Liberty to speak (without disturbing others) as he pleases

13. Silence is on many occasions enforced

14. Teacher’s part is to guide child to act and think for himself

14. Teacher does all and child is forced to follow

15. Disorderly conduct in class is regarded as teacher’s fault, she seeks it out and corrects it

15. Children are punished even if fault lies at the teacher’s incapability



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