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Month: February 2017

The principles of the Montessori system for preschool education

Over the last two hundred years, many educators have developed many education methods to teach preschool children. One world renowned and remarkable system of education for these children is the Montessori Method, which was developed in the first two decades of the 20th century by an Italian physician and educator called Maria Montessori.
After graduating from the University of Rome in 1896, she worked with mentally disabled children in the asylums of Rome as a part of her research at the university hospital. Her interest in education was kindled by these experiences with the children at the asylum and she diligently researched on educational theory of the previous two hundred years. Owing to her keen sense of observation and her innovative brilliance, she developed the Montessori Method of education during the next few years. During the course of the 20th century, the Montessori Method has become popular in many countries around the world. From daycare centres in the United States of America to Singapore child care centres, Montessori’s principles were used to teach preschool children.
There are five key principles in the Montessori Method for preschool education.
Respect for the Child
The foundation upon which the other principles are dependent is respect for the child. A child who is respected is a happier child and as a consequence, learning outcomes will improve dramatically.
The Absorbent Mind
While older children and adults need an organised approach to learning, children below the age of six can learn instinctively from their environment. By the age of six, this unique ability will disappear. According to Maria Montessori, the main job of a teacher is to place little children in suitable environments to make the maximum use of this spectacular gift.
Sensitive Periods
A sensitive period is a certain period of time when a preschool child can learn a particular skill with remarkable ease. It is important for the teacher to spot these sensitive periods and ensure that the child’s learning potential is tapped to the maximum.
The Prepared Environment
An environment designed to stimulate the instinctive learning abilities of a child is a prepared environment. A variety of options are provided in this environment and children are free to explore and learn from their surroundings.
Montessori strongly believed that children can educate themselves when allowed to explore an environment that captures their attention and stimulates them. “Auto-education” is the term used to describe this phenomenon
Finally, the teacher in the Montessori system of education tries to be a guide and not an obstacle to a child exploring his/her surroundings. A keen observation and an intelligent analysis of the child’s response to his/her environment are the main skills required in a teacher of this child-centric approach to teaching.

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