Dr. Maria Montessori was an Italian physician and educator. She was the first woman to earn a medical degree at the University of Rome, Italy, in 1896. Born in 1870, she developed her method of educating children over a 40-year period of working with and directly observing children. Dr. Maria Montessori devoted her life to the education of children and was honored and respected throughout the world at the time of her death in 1952.
The basic principle of the Montessori philosophy of education is that every child has all the potentialities of the MAN or WOMAN each can become. To best develop physical, intellectual and spiritual powers, a child must have freedom – a freedom that is achieved through order and self-discipline.
A child is born into the world of sights and sounds that, in infancy, appear chaotic. The child must gradually create order from this chaos by learning to distinguish the items that bombard his/her senses. Slowly, but surely, the child will gain self-mastery within his/her environment. Dr. Maria Montessori developed what she called the “prepared environment” which includes the concepts of freedom, structure, and order. This environment involves the presentation of the Montessori materials and the development of community life in an atmosphere that is beautiful, warm and safe.
The children engage in activities that are real rather than fanciful. Each area of the physical environment has a specific and defined order as well as a sequence.
A Montessori Class is ungraded. As a result, a child can simultaneously work with older children in one subject and with younger children in another and still have social interaction with children of their own age. This structure solves the difficult problem of skipping and retaining children who do not fit in academically with others of the same chronological age. Each individual child is not dependent upon others in his/her group for intellectual or social growth.