Dr. Maria Montessori was the first woman in Italy ever to become a doctor. She believed we should "look to the child" to observe the way they approach the world. As she applied her keen powers of observation, one discovery followed another, giving Montessori an increasingly clear view of the mind of the child. She found that little children were capable of long periods of quiet concentration, even though they rarely show signs of it in everyday settings.
Dr. Montessori trained teachers to pay close attention to children's spontaneous behavior, arguing that only in this way could a teacher know how to teach. Traditional schools pay little attention to children as individuals and expect a child to adapt to pre-set standards and curriculum.
In a Montessori classroom, a combination of three elements combines to develop the child's maximum potential: 1) an observant teacher; 2) a carefully Prepared Environment;* and 3) the child's own Absorbent Mind.
The classroom contains special manipulative materials designed for maximum appeal and effectiveness which take advantage of children's natural tendency to experience the world through their senses. At CMS VA, these specific Sensorial Materials* serve to hone visual discrimination skills, develop abstract concepts such as superlatives (big, bigger, biggest), and provide indirect preparation for writing and reading.
One of the cornerstones of the Montessori Method is the recognition of children's urgency to learn specific activities at each stage in their development. These stages that children pass through are called Sensitive Periods.* During these cycles, the child readily absorbs a particular type of knowledge often showing an unusual aptitude for that particular skill.
||Birth To 18 Months
|Precision & Coordination
||2 1/2 To 4 Years
||3 1/2 To 4 1/2 Years
||3 To 6 Years
||4 To 5 Years
|Words Leading To Reading
||4 To 5 Years
*Terms marked with this asterisk were coined by Dr. Maria Montessori. Heralded as the century's leading advocate for early childhood education, her research and studies helped change the course of education.
Many elements of "modern" early childhood education have been adapted from Montessori's theories. She is credited with the development of the open classroom, individualized education, manipulative learning materials, and educational toys.