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BASIC MONTESSORI
Maria Montessori wrote, “The most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to age six. For that is the time when man’s intelligence itself, his greatest implement, is being formed. But not only his intelligence but the full totality of his psychic powers. . . At no other age has the child greater need of an intelligent help, and any obstacle that impedes his creative work will lessen the chance he has of achieving perfection.” Montessori’s educational theories are based on the way a child develops naturally and are then correlated for use as an education system consistent with these laws.

Dr. Montessori believed that no human being is educated by another person. People teach themselves. A truly educated individual continues learning long after the hours and years spent in a classroom because she is motivated from within by a natural curiosity and love for knowledge. Montessori felt that the goal of early education should not be to fill children with facts from a preselected course of studies, but rather to cultivate their own natural desire to learn. Her program made the child the center of education. As a result, children concentrate with enthusiasm and achieve a profound understanding of their work. This intellectual progress is accompanied by emotional growth. The children become harmonious in movement, independent in work, and honest and helpful with one another.

Montessori materials awaken the child’s desire to learn. They help children understand what they learn by associating an abstract concept with a concrete sensorial experience. In this manner, the Montessori child is actually learning and not just memorizing. The Montessori method stresses that children learn and progress at their own pace so that fast learners are not held back, and slower learners are not frustrated by their need to progress more thoroughly. The Montessori classroom offers almost 500 unique educational materials that are manipulated by the children. So many materials accommodate many levels of ability. They are not “teaching aides” in the conventional sense, because their goal is an internal one of aiding the child’s mental development and self-construction. They aid this growth by providing stimuli that capture the child’s attention and initiate a process of concentration. Children then use the apparatus to develop coordination, attention to details, and good work habits. When the environment offers materials that engage children, the teacher is then able to give the freedom needed for healthy development.

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