The Montessori method is an educational approach centered on the student, based on scientific observations that collect data from birth to adulthood.
According to this methodology, it is considered that the child has the innate ability to spontaneously start learning if the environment where he or she is is carefully prepared.
In this system not only the learning of logical-mathematical and rational competences is valued, but the socio-emotional and cognitive-physical development that is highly related to the social skills, so necessary nowadays to be able to develop the potential of a person with fullness.
History of the Montessori Method
This type of teaching so complete, it was created thanks to a woman who had knowledge in various subjects, her name was Maria Montessori, whose name gives name to the method. María, originally from Italy, was born in the summer of 1870.
This woman is credited with a large number of trades; educator, pedagogue, scientist, doctor, psychiatrist, philosopher, psychologist? the truth is that his knowledge was extensive, so that way it was easier to create a method that gathered knowledge from various branches.
The birth of the method is attributed to the time of the year 1900, since it is when Maria begins to work with children who at that time, according to the medical canon, were considered mentally disturbed. Maria, she realized that these children really possessed potential, and that if they developed properly, they could have a more optimal life.
This happens, when Maria, observes several children interned in an institution, which manipulated the food instead of ingesting it. Upon witnessing this act, she discovers that, to these children, what they needed was to touch, activate, contact with the concrete and the real, and in this way to develop their own intelligence and potential.
It is then in that period when Maria Montessori decides to dedicate her life to children.
In this story several people are also important, since Maria, in developing her pedagogical career, discovered the work of other professionals who had a vision of teaching and development similar to her own, so it is worth mentioning:
- Jean Itard, who establishes the importance of observation in children and understands that they can not be imposed learning.
- Eduardo Séquin, who creates exercises and materials so that the child can develop their own faculties naturally and at their own pace according to their stage.
- Johann Heinrich, who emphasized the teacher’s preparation, so that he understood that in order to achieve a change in others, the person must first experience his own change, as well as having love for his work and the children he works with.
What is the difference between Montessori and traditional education?
The main differences are:
- The method emphasizes learning through all the senses of the body , is not limited to listening or seeing, as in traditional teaching.
- The child learns at his own pace and his own choice of activities.
- The classes are grouped in ranges of 3 years , ie: 3 to 6 years 6 to 9 years, from 9 to 12 years ?? etc. It is organized in this way because older children tend to spontaneously share their knowledge with the little ones.
- The teaching is intended to incite the child’s innate hunger for knowledge, making the child feel love for learning by making it a personal process.
- The teacher serves as a guide and accompaniment , does not impose what should be learned in the classroom.
- There are no notes or grades .
Principles of the Montessori method
The basic principles that govern the method are
1- The primordial respect for the child
This principle is the pillar on which rest the remaining 4 principles.
Montessori, was very aware that adults do not respect children in terms of the decisions they make. We try to force them to do what we think is best for them, without taking into account many times the needs that these children have.
As adults, from a teaching based on discipline and authoritarianism, we expect these children to react with us in a submissive manner and with a behavior that we believe is appropriate for adults because it is the one that suits us best.
According to Montessori, it is best to treat them with delicacy and respect, so that their development can reach their full potential, as well as being optimal and safe. Therefore, we must respect the decisions of the child in their learning environment, and trust them, as they are able to learn thanks to the decision of the options that are presented, thus developing their own skills and abilities.
In addition, the fact that we let them decide and learn with support, reinforces their self-esteem and self-confidence. If an adult trusts me, because I would not trust myself
2- Children have an absorbing mind
It can be said that humans acquire the knowledge of contact with the environment. Experiential learning is retained and processed much better, and its storage in long-term memory is more effective.
Children have a quality that allows them to learn naturally, we are talking about the ability to acquire knowledge spontaneously absorbing. With the verb absorb, I mean, the little ones learn unconsciously, gradually learning that learning towards consciousness.
Surely you have ever heard that children are like sponges, so let me tell you that it is a wrong comparison, since sponges have a limited absorption capacity, and children do not.
It is important to keep in mind that for the simple fact of being, children learn from their environment. This you must remember as to what they will learn from what exists in their context, whether the environment contains pleasant, unpleasant stimuli, or whether there are positive behaviors or hostile behaviors
3- Take into account sensitive periods
It refers to those periods in which children are more likely to acquire a skill much more easily than in other stages. These stages are determined in a normative and biological way, and the trajectory is based on the process of evolution.
It is important to know that although all children experience the same sensitive periods, the sequence and time vary for each child. This ability allows children to acquire a certain quality that allows them to learn about other aspects of their environment and context.
According to Montessori, the sensitive period determines a transitory disposition limited to the acquisition of a particular trait. Once this feature has been acquired, the special sensitivity disappears, to give way to a new one.
The adult must be an observer to detect these periods.
4- Have a prepared environment
Montessori believed that children have a greater and better learning in an environment prepared for that purpose. It also considers it relevant that in this environment children can do things for themselves.
The context is focused on active learning, where freedom is the essential characteristic.
Freedom is important because they feel more confident when exploring, and make their own decisions regarding the choice of material to learn.
María Montessori said that children educate themselves.
Children who are actively involved in their learning context, and can freely decide on how they will spend their time developing skills, can be said to enjoy practicing self-education.
Regarding the adult, Montessori stressed that this should guide the child without the child feeling too much, the adult should always be available to provide the child with the help they need, but never be an obstacle between the child and their own experience. .
How to practice the montessori method at home?
Below I will give you some guidelines so you can offer the children of the house another way to learn.
1- Create an orderly and accessible environment
Having a place for each thing is favorable for the children, since they will know how to find what they need and where they should leave it once they finish using it. This fosters autonomy and independence. Having an environment where everything has its place, encourages less distraction, making the child focus on the task he or she will perform.
For example, you can adapt the spaces for him, putting shelves where he can reach, or food from the refrigerator in a low area accessible to him. The idea is that the child can access without problems the materials that need to be used to develop.
2- Teach real-life skills
In schools where the Montessori method is put into practice, students are taught to take care of themselves and the space where they are, making them acquire in a simple way a positive self-concept related to the autonomy and utility they have for others. .
These children, wash the tables, and those furniture that serve to organize their materials. They prepare their food and the biggest ones help the little ones. This makes them acquire skills that will be useful in real life, as well as feel valuable to the community.
So, you can have your son collaborate at home. It is important that you take into account the age of the child and that you arm yourself with patience to teach how the task is done.
3- Promote concentration
To learn, it is necessary to be involved in the task as well as to concentrate on what is being done. As adults, we should look at what stimuli awaken the child’s interest and motivation to relate them to learning materials.
Keep in mind that each child is different, and that they may prefer different parts of the house, to perform certain tasks. Listen to your choice and adapt the space you choose to the task you are going to perform and at your age. It is important to adjust the environment to the child so that he can focus on what he is doing.
4- Nourish internal motivation
Any person, child or adult will be more involved in a task if they feel there is intrinsic value in the work they do. That is, if it makes personal sense to perform the task for oneself. If external rewards are used with children, the pleasure for the work done will be truncated, and the motivation will be less lasting and meaningful for the child.
Try not to encourage your child to learn through rewards, such as toys, money, or other external stimuli. The right thing to do if this method is used is to encourage the meaning of the task for each child. You can praise the effort that the child makes to get it, encourage him to follow, and support him in his decision.
5- Let the child move freely
Movement and cognition are closely linked, this means that the child needs to move to learn. Do not limit it to a space or an area, remember that the child must have experiences and stimulation of the context to learn.
6- Meaningful learning is deeper
When the child learns meaningfully in real contexts, knowledge is deeper and richer than that acquired in abstract contexts, where the task is explained on paper.