About Maria Montessori

Montessori advocated the “Education of the Senses” because children are able to build up a store of experiences that help them relate to the external environment.

Through keen observation of children at work and play, Montessori built a system of materials, both didactic and progressive, with influences from fellow educators Itard and Seguin. She firmly believed that by placing their intrinsic needs above everything else, all children would eventually develop and realize their full potential.

Montessori coined the phrase “the absorbent mind” to illustrate how a child gradually builds himself up and applies himself to the world. She described the state of a child’s mind between the ages of two and six to be like a sponge, taking in information indiscriminately. Then, gradually, through movement and manipulation of the environment, the child comes to make sense of the world around him; his mind categorizes the information, and this leads to knowledge.

Montessori also noticed that children went through transitory periods known as “sensitive periods” where they were especially sensitive to certain aspects of the environment. During these periods, the child would show exceptional interest and growth in the field concerned. For example, children are said to have a sensitivity to language from birth to five years old, and a sensitivity to order from about 18 months old. And if, for any reason, the child is not exposed to these certain aspects during these sensitive periods, he could suffer limitations to his intellectual growth.

Introduction to the Montessori Curriculum

Maria Montessori was an extraordinary woman who started a revolution in education. In order to direct the child, we have to delve into his psyche. We have to observe his growth. We have to constantly search within ourselves to see to his need for nourishment. We have to do away with conventional teaching in order to, ironically, reach out to the child. Montessori believed she could unlock the child’s natural genius by first believing that his innate ability would manifest itself if the child built up his own personal experiences through the use of his hands. Thus, after countless observations, she devised a method that catered directly to enhancing the natural development of the child. Each material was designed for a specific purpose, with its significance and contributions clearly defined by Montessori’s love for the child, respect for the environment and our responsibility of maintaining it, and her confidence in bringing out the best in every child. A child that needs to be independent, with a sense of order and discipline, needs to be properly stimulated and provided with adequate materials to sustain him. Thus, day after day, as the child is constantly working with the material, the essence of the lessons “sinks quietly into his mind and becomes a part of him”. (E.M.Standing)

Independence and Normalisation are the two goals for a child to gain freedom. He is then free to choose, decide, move and know what he wants for himself. Development of concentration is important for normalisation to begin. Before the child can start to abstract, there must be clarity in the concrete and also a maturity of the mind.