Maria Montessori began her professional life as Italy's first female physician. Using her keen scientific observation skills, she began to develop a theory of child development and education based on the dictum "follow the child." The Montessori approach is designed to assist the child in acquiring the skills and self-confidence necessary to fulfill his or her own potential. By building on interests, nurturing enthusiasm, and allowing for individual needs, children can achieve self-discipline, self-mastery, and a life-long love of learning.
The philosophy is based on three equal components:
the child, the adult, and the environment.
A Montessori classroom is comprised of children of mixed ages and genders. We believe that young children possess an "absorbent mind" that allows them to easily assimilate information and understanding through all of the senses. In addition, we believe that children have "sensitive periods" when their interests and abilities for acquiring certain skills are at a peak.
The role of the adult in the classroom is best described as a facilitator who observes the readiness and interest of the child and becomes the link between the child and the environment.
A Montessori classroom is a carefully prepared environment. Materials are specifically designed and chosen to provide a sequential, concrete, and attractive curriculum. The opportunities for learning are extensive, but always appropriate to the child. Through touching and manipulating concrete objects and materials, children are introduced to basic concepts in mathematics, language, science, and geography.
The Social Life
Social skills develop easily and naturally at MCS. The wide age range keeps competition to a minimum while giving maximum opportunity for cooperation and peer learning. The children develop a social life governed by mutual respect and helpfulness. Because a child is in the classroom for three years, he or she is able to move through the levels of introduction, repetition, and mastery in a respectful and safe environment.
Planes of Development
Human Development does not proceed in a linear or constant fashion. Rather, it occurs in periods or cycles. Dr. Montessori referred to these cycles “planes of development” and divides child development into four planes. Each plane is further divided into phases of attainment and refinement.
The child from birth to six is developing physical independence and language. During these early years, the child is absorbing everything in the environment and working to refine and perfect new skills and knowledge. Independence, coordination, concentration, and a sense of order are the forces driving growth and development.
The Elementary child, 6-12 years, wants to move and act for himself or herself. Elementary children are seeking the knowledge of the universe. They ask deep philosophical questions and are on a search for meaning. Imagination, socialization, and moral judgment guide their development.
From 12-18 years, the Adolescent explores how to fit into society and become a part of the larger world. Trust, self-expression, analytical thought, commitment, and responsibility are paramount.
The Young Adult integrates all of the aspects of the earlier three stages and is prepared to go out into the world and become a contributing member of their society.
“The child’s development follows a path of successive stages of independence, and our knowledge of this must guide us in our behavior towards him.”
- Dr. Maria Montessori