Montessori is an international education model which celebrated its 110th year in 2017. This education system is used in over 22,000 schools worldwide and around 300 schools and centers across Australia. (https://montessori.org.au/about-montessori). Montessori approach was introduced in the first half of the XX century by the Italian physician, anthropologist and pedagogue Maria Montessori. The first Montessori school—the Casa Dei Bambini, or Children’s House— was opened for children from poverty homes and children with disabilities in Rome on January 6, 1907. Maria Montessori developed her system and didactic materials based on scientific observations of children from many socio-economic and cultural backgrounds from birth to maturity. She was particularly fascinated with the impact of the environment on learning Maria Montessori spent all her life developing and refining the Montessori system. One of the main idea of Montessori education is to stimulate the child to self-directed learning, by placing the child in the carefully prepared environment with “sequenced and sructured materials for the child to be introduced to by the teacher followed by opportunities to self-select materials in independent work» (p 60 Wortham). The core principles of the system are: the independence of the child, freedom within the limited boundaries, and the natural psychological, and physical and social development of the child.
Montessori’s view Of the Child:
The Montessori approach to education is based upon a deep understanding of child development and encompasses some unique ideas relating to the child.
The Montessori approach is a child-centered approach that see a child as a unique person and as an active participant in learning (p59. Wortham, chapter 3). Children do not learn the way adults do. Adults acquire knowledge through conscious learning, while the child unconsciously absorbs knowledge along with impressions from the environment. All children from nature are given the desire to develop faster and get into the adult world, similar to how child acquire the language and culture without anyone teaching him. The child seeks freedom and independence from the adult from the moment of birth.
Like Piaget, Montessori believed children go through few swapped stages of development or sensitive periods for learning:0-6 (infancy); 6-12 (childhood); 12-18 (adolescence), and 18-24 (maturity) (Wardle, F. (2009, 76) . The first level of development of children, according to Maria Montessori, lasts from birth to six years and named The Construction of Individuality’ or the Absorbent Mind Stage. (reference). As each child passes the sensitivity phases individually, the curriculum in the school should be individually oriented. The child should be given the freedom to choose what he wants to work with. Through the concept of absorbing intelligence in the Montessori method, the importance of the first years of life in human development is substantiated. From birth to age six, the child is absorbing all aspects of his or her environment, language and culture. During this period, the child is seen as a researcher who performs work to develop his personality and gain independence. “The child has a mind able to absorb knowledge. He has the power to teach himself.” (The Absorbent Mind). Children learn at their own pace and follow their own individual interest. Montessori believed the child learns more by doing things for himself, he learns how to learn by becoming his own teacher (p/14 Gitter). The child’s individual development brings its own reward and therefore motivation. The Montessori method focuses on encouraging children to explore, manipulate, and discover the world on their own – the environment, materials, nature and the aesthetic world (Lillard, 2005) Wardle, F. (2009, 76). The carefully prepared environment is a key element of Montessori’s phylosophy.
In Montessori education the main goal of learning environment is to provide conditions for concentrated work and development of children’s independence. This way, the children learn at their own level through the manipulation of things. As such, personal independence, self-discipline, and initiative are essential for learning and motivation, with motivation purportedly fostered through interactions in the environment (Kendall, 1993). (Lopata, C., Wallace, N., & Finn, K. (2009) p. 6) Maria Montessori also believed that freedom was important for the child (p59. Wortham, chapter 3). The teacher takes a neutral position, guiding rather than teaching , acting as an observer and assistant or a facilitator to create a specially prepared environment, in cooperation with which the child can effectively develop and learn, environment that fosters child’s self-formation and self-teaching. The child himself must determine his rhythm of learning, as well as the direction and scope for which he would like to focus. The child can choose an activity and materials for learning. взрослый должен понять, что интересует малыша в данный момент, создать ему оптимальные условия для развития и показать, что можно в этих условиях делать.
The phenomenon of Montessori pedagogy lies in her boundless belief in the nature of the child, in her striving to exclude any authoritarian pressure on the person who is forming, and also in the orientation toward a free, independent, active person.
- Explain how the learning environment promotes learning in in the kindergarten and pre-primary settings in relation to the chosen approach
ELYF defines Learning environments are welcoming spaces when they reflect and enrich the lives and identities of children and families participating in the setting and respond to their interests and needs DEEWR,2009,p.15)
Montessory approach stress the importance of the Environment in learning process Maria Montessori observed children and belived the environment has a critical impact on the development and learning of young children. (p.75, Wardle, F. (2009). Montessori emphasized that environment needs to liberate the spirit, promote independence, allow activity and be beautiful, safe, and orderly (Bullurd p.10). Maria Montessori is credited with designing and promoting beautiful, prepare orderly child-sized environment filled with engaging materials (77 Wardle, F. (2009). “Environments that support learning are vibrant and flexible spaces that are responsive to the interests and abilities of each child. “DEEWR, 2009,p.15)
The equipment in the class should corresponds to the growth, proportions and age of the child – this Montessori idea was very progressive in the biginning of last century , now it is almost universal in programs for young children. In Montessori classroom , furniture and equipment shoud be made from natural materials and Light enough for children to rearrange tables and chairs independently. (p/ 19 Feez, S. (2013) . [Henniger, M. (2013, 65). Ergonomic and comfortable furniture that meet the user’s physical needs engage children in more extended, complex play (White, 2004 quoted in Bullard, 98) Maria Montessori also believed that the environment and materials should be aesthetically pleasing and elegant, be harmoniouse calm colours , clean , simple, and practical (p 11 Bullard). Homelike environment that are welcoming, divided in different spaces, includes private places to escape, provides comfortable furniture, filled with real, functional items (pottery, dishes, pots) can help to establish a sense of belonging, easing the transition between home and school (Bukkard 103). Montessori room is spacious and filled with light and air, panoramic windows for daylight are welcome. In the Montessori class, indoor plants are always available at a child’s height, so that children can take care of them. Young children can use even fragile porcelain: they have to learn confidence in handling fragile objects and realize their value. Children are free to move about during the day. But they should learn to rearrange items as quietly as possible so as not to interfere with others. (p 60 Wortham)
Secondly, According to Montessori the environment should motivate children , so they are interested in pursuing the available activities. Montessori views of environment is similar to Reggio Emilia approach: as the third teacher. The environment and materials encourage young children’s exploration, discovery and self-directed learning.
The educator should create the learning environment where the child becomes increasingly active, the teacher increasingly passive, the space where the child can do things for himself without immediate help of adults (Bullurd p.11). There are 4 main areas in Montessori preschool program:
2 Multi-Sensory Learning
3 Academic materials (Language, mathematics, geography and science)
- Cultural and artistic materials
Practical life experiences (for example, care of person zipping or tying shoes
, or care of environment- washing, cleaning) develop fine and gross motor skills ; encourage the child’s independent and provides link between home and school Wardle, F. (2009, 82).
Montessori manipuatives are essential component of the in children’s development. Montessori believed Early childhood years is time when children make incredible strides in fine motor skills, “Nothing goes into the mind that does not first go through the hands.” (Dr. Maria Montessori https://montessori.org.au/montessori-materials.)
Manipulative materials enchances children’s fine motor skills development , skills that nessesary for writing, drawingand performing and also self-help skills like eating, buttoning, or zipping (141Bullard). Didactic Material is a unique manual sets designed by Dr. Montessori specifically to teach certain skills and concepts at the child’s developmental age. (Wardle, 2009, p.79). Montessori materials are carefully sequenced by difficulty, made from natural materials, carefully finished, and aesthetic to look at and to handle. The materials should be freely available, at the eye level of the child, so that even the smallest child can reach them.. This is the nature of the call to actio.
Dr.Montessori also placed great emphasis upon education of senses .Like the manipulative center, the sensory center also provides children the opportunity to develop fine motor and cognitive skills. she believed children learn more effectively through all the senses ( sight, touch, sound, taste and smell )and particularly through touching , physically manipulate objects and feel sensations.( Wardle, F. (2009), 83). For example, children in Montessori class learn alphabet using moveable alphabet, and the sandpaper letters. Sensory education fosters curiosity, imagination and experimentation and also develop social skills and language when children share their experiences and knowledge with each other (152Bullard). Maria Montessori emphasized including art and music in everyday educational activities
Dr. Montessori sensory materials promote seriation, classification and conservation activities in a variety of media (p60 Wortham). One of the most essential properties of Montessori materials is Self-correction that allows the child to see for himself the incorrectness of his actions. Outdoor environment in Montessori view is an extension of the classroom. (Wardle, F. (2009), 86).Individual portfolio folders (as an example of authentic assessment a portfolio of each child’s work, reviewed on a monthly basis, and a developmental checklist
Part 3. Critique how this pedagogical approach meets/or does not meet the current regulatory frameworks (the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and National Quality Standard (NQS)).
Montessori fit well with the Early Years Learning Framework
Montessori services to comply with the NQS and especially the EYLF
The basic principle of Montessori Education is respect for the child in the learning process.
As I have already discussed, for Montessori the learning environment is critical .In setting up a Montessori Class, a “prepared environment” is of paramount importance. The direct connection between the Montessori’s views of concerning the learning environment and (EYLF). They both signify the importance of learning environment in learning process, both stress the importance of safety, interesting and stimulating
There are more connections and links between Montessori approach, Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and National Quality Standard (NQS in many aspects. According to Montessori approach educators should observe, plan and reflect on individual children’s learning and development. In conjunction with each child’s learning will be based on their interests and strengths and guided by our educators (EYLF) and to one of the main ideas of Montessori’s method is the child’s gaining joy from learning. It is believed that if a person, even a very small one, is interested, if he genuinely wants to learn, then the amount of assimilated material increases. At the same time, the opportunity to control one’s own training gives the child self-confidence, and the absence of fear for the “wrong act” intensifies the thirst to try and learn. It links to Outcome 3 EYLF, Children have a strong sense of wellbeing.
Montessori classes are multiage. This approach encourage children work together, when young children learn from elder children.. It links to Vygotsky social –constructivism and underpinned in EYLF principle of ^: Children are effective communicators. NQS (OA1) Curriculum decision making contributes to each child’s learning and development outcomes in relation to their identity, connection with community, wellbeing, confidence as learners and effectiveness as communicators.
EYLF Learning Outcomes
- Children have a strong sense of identity.
- Children are connected with and contribute to their world.
- Children have a strong sense of wellbeing.
- Children are confident and involved learners. Montessori believed children are capable and active learners. Montessori education promotes self-directed learning
- Children are effective communicators.
Educators must work in collaboration with families to provide relevant learning experiences for each child, based on their interests and family experiences. (EYLF) Montessori programs organize specific cognitive activities around carefully structured materials that teachers guide children to use in particular ways
The EYLF emphasises a play-based approach to supporting children’s learning from birth to five years of age.
AS noted in EYLF (DEEWR, 2009) relationships between educators, children and families are significant in children’s learning. Play provides opportunities for children to learn, as they discover, create, improvise and imagine.
Children’s immersion in their play illustrates how play enables them to simply enjoy being (Framework, p. 15)
The Australian Early Ears Frameworks describes play as “context for learning through which children organise and make sense of their social worlds, as they actively engage with people, object and representations’ Framework, p. 46). Montessori view that play is “child work” in the sense that play children are acquiring new knowledge. (p 163)
In Montessori pedagogy, the most important thing is the independent development of the child’s personality in a well-equipped environment (Framework, p. 15).
This is the basis for learning, in the process of which children show their needs, and educators, when observing, determine the type of individual assistance to each child.
In Montessori class the child can select an activity, materials, and/or a daily living experience. However, the child must then follow the activity or use the materials in the correct, prescribed manner (Montessori, 1989). (p.80, Wardle, F. (2009).
Henninger (2013, p.60) noticed that the main difference between Montessori early childhood program and many other ones is the emphasis on work task rather than play time. The strong emphasis on highly structured work tasks is generally in conflict with the play orientation of many early childhood programs
Перефразировать .Montessori programs stress work and jobs, which often lead to a lack of opportunities for play in the classroom. Do young children need to play? Should Montessori programs include more play, particularly dramatic and imaginative play? In the Montessori approach, teachers do not “direct learning,” but respect the children’s efforts toward independent mastery (Crain, 1992).
Montessori’s view that play is «child’d work», in the sense that in play children are acquiring new knowledge (Lifter in Duchesne & McMaugh, 2016, 163). In both playful learning and Montessori education, the activities are intrinsically rewarding, and extrinsic rewards are not offered. In short, Montessori education resembles playful learning in many ways, ways in which both contrast with conventional schooling. Both enjoy a blend of freedom and structure using didactic objects, interactive teacher lessons, freely chosen activities, and engagement with peers—all activities that are intrinsi- cally motivating rather than extrinsically rewarded, and all enjoyable. However, Montessori education also differs from playful learning in key ways. (p.167 -168, Lillard )
Montessori education differs from playful learning by providing a large set of highly structured materials from which to learn. (169, 2013, Lillard). Play probably might be more open-ended than the learning opportunities designed by Montessori. Children can have more choices to use materials and equipment in their own unique way, the challenge is for teachers and teacher education programs to explore the value of dramatic play with an open mind, while still holding true to the educa- tional vision and method created by Marie Montessori (Soundy, C. (2009), 383).
A Montessori classroom aims at developing the whole child holistically thus physically, socially, emotionally and in their cognitive abilities. On the other hand, a teacher is tasked with ensuring that each child taps to their full potential and rather not treat them as plasticine to be moulded.
Can century-old model work for 21st-century children?
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Henniger, M. (2013). Teaching young children : An introduction (5th ed. ed.). Boston: Pearson.
Lillard, A. S. (2005). Montessori : the science behind the genius. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com
Helfrich, M. S. (2011). Montessori learning in the 21st century : a guide for parents and teachers. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com
Soundy, C. (2009). Young children’s imaginative play: Is it valued in montessori classrooms? Early Childhood Education Journal, 36(5), 381-383. doi:10.1007/s10643-008-0282-z
Lopata, C., Wallace, N., & Finn, K. (2009). Comparison of academic achievement between montessori and traditional education programs. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 20(1), 5-13. doi:10.1080/02568540509594546
Dodd-Nufrio, A. (2011). Reggio emilia, maria montessori, and john dewey: Dispelling teachers’ misconceptions and understanding theoretical foundations. Early Childhood Education Journal, 39(4), 235-237
Lillard, A. (2013). Playful learning and montessori education. American Journal of Play, 5(2), 157-186.
Feez, S. (2013). Montessori : the australian story of a revolutionary teaching method. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com
Wardle, F. (2009). Approaches to early childhood and elementary education. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com
Montessori p 73-95 Chapter 4
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