Dr. Maria Montessori
The Montessori Method was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, who spent many years scientifically observing children. In 1896, she became the first woman physician in Italy, and for the next five years she worked in family practice and with children who were in some way mentally or physically disabled. In 1902, she gave up her practice and began to study philosophy, psychology, and education. In 1907, at the age of thirty-six, she opened Casa dei Bambini (Children’s House), a school for working-class children in one of the worst slums in Rome. Her first classroom held sixty children, ages three to six. Her only assistant was an eighteen-year-old girl.
Some of the greatest contributions to early childhood education came from this classroom. They include the creation of child-sized furniture, commissioned by Dr. Montessori but designed and built by the father of her eighteen-year-old assistant; and her groundbreaking curriculum, which allows children to work at their own pace, with no set academic requirements and no grades.
Montessori believed that children (birth–6 years) learn through absorption. She called this stage “the absorbent mind”. This was a time in a child’s life where the joy of learning is evident and effortless than any other developmental stage of life. Through natural curiosity, the child absorbs and assimilates information with his or her five senses—sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste—to construct his or her own conclusions.
The Montessori method of education offers children age 3 through 6 a unique opportunity to learn effortlessly and efficiently, and it is filled with opportunities for self discovery through guided hands-on experiences. The Montessori teacher is the child’s dynamic link to the beautifully equipped environment that continually evolves to keep up with the child’s thirst for knowledge. Her environment will provide a peaceful, orderly, caring, and learning framework to support the advancement of the child’s mastery of life skills: cognitively, socially, and emotionally. All at this pivotal important period of a child’s development age 3 through 6.