What is the main objective of the Montessori Method?

Visit Montessori method is unique in its approach to learning and child development, as it moves away from traditional learning towards positive parenting. Many parents are interested in the Montessori Method, but not all learning centers fully understand the principles and purpose of the Montessori Method, which means that children don't get a true Montessori experience. To understand the methodology and apply it correctly, let's go back to basics. The main aim of the Montessori method is to help children develop to their fullest potential by respecting their innate interests and ability to learn by doing. This is achieved by providing a stimulating environment, prepared for optimal learning, with a teacher who observes and guides, rather than instructs, the child. Thanks to this approach, the Montessori Method is effective in encouraging children to enjoy the process of discovery and learning, thus developing lifelong learning skills.

The beginnings of the Montessori Method

The origins of the Montessori Method can be traced back to the San Lorenzo district of Rome, Italy, where, in 1907, Dr Maria Montessori opened the Casa dei Bambini (Children's House). Dr. Montessori was an Italian physician with a strong interest in human development, particularly child development, and worked in clinics and schools for children with mental, physical and emotional difficulties.

Casa dei Bambini came into being when Dr. Montessori was asked to look after a group of previously unschooled children in the slum district while their parents worked. The children, aged between 2 and 6, were illiterate and ran around the neighborhood unsupervised. The developers who were rehabilitating the neighborhood wanted the children to be kept in a room so they wouldn't destroy property. Dr. Montessori decided to create a school to help the children learn.

In the Children's House, Dr. Montessori observed that children liked to learn by doing things themselves - solving puzzles, cleaning up their space, preparing meals and other activities in which they could participate. Dr. Montessori noticed that, thanks to these hands-on activities in which the children took an interest, they learned effortlessly on their own.

The main objective of the Montessori Method

As you can see, the main aim of the Montessori method is to help children develop to their fullest potential. Dr. Montessori believed that the child is his or her own person, capable of determining what he or she needs to learn. The Montessori approach follows the child, respecting his or her innate interests and ability to learn by doing.

montessori school class
Montessori classroom

While most educational systems are designed from the adult's point of view, with milestones set according to adult schedules and expectations, Montessori believes that teachers and parents need to pay attention to the child as he or she is now, not what adults want him or her to be in the future. This means getting to know the child, observing his current interests and supporting him as he learns to navigate his world.

Educators and parents can give children this freedom to learn and develop by preparing a stimulating environment where they can explore and decide on the activities they want to work on.

We need to abandon our role as jailers and take care to prepare an environment in which we do as little as possible to exhaust the child with our supervision and instruction. The more the environment matches the child's needs, the more limited our roles as teachers will be. We must, however, keep one thing in mind: giving a child freedom is not the same as abandoning or neglecting him or her... we must support his or her development with wise and loving care. Moreover, even in preparing an environment for the child, we are faced with an important task, for in a sense we have to create a new world - the world of childhood."
Maria Montessori

The principles of the Montessori Method

L'Montessori education is based on five major principles that govern the development and education of children. These 5 principles support the main objective of Montessori learning.

  • Respect for children

The first principle of Montessori education is respect for the child. At the beginning of the twentieth century, when the Montessori method first saw the light of day, children were not held in the same esteem and respect as they are today. Children were treated more as the property of the adults who raised them, to be instructed, scolded, warned - in preparation for adulthood.

Montessori believed that the child should be respected as a whole person, with a character and personality distinct from those of adults. In this sense, respect for the child requires that children be given the freedom to express themselves and explore what interests them in a safe environment. This principle supports the primary goal of helping children reach their full potential by listening to their needs and interests - in a sense, by awakening rather than extinguishing their minds. This respect will instill in the child the confidence that will help him develop to his full potential.

  • The absorbing mind

Dr. Montessori believed that the child's absorbing mind enabled him to learn constantly from his environment. Particularly from infancy to the age of six, everything the child encounters is new to him, so he absorbs new information and learns from it. This principle supports the main objective by making adults aware that the child needs the necessary stimuli and experiences to learn and assimilate as much as possible.

  • Sensitive periods

Montessori education stipulates that there are specific periods in a child's development when he or she is more apt to learn a specific body of knowledge. These are the "sensitive periods". During these periods, children have a natural propensity, attention span and interest where they are determined to learn more about a concept or idea. Familiarizing them with this aspect would result in better knowledge acquisition. This principle supports Montessori's main objective in advising teachers and parents to listen to the child's interests at a particular time in his or her development, so that he or she can learn more easily.

  • The prepared environment

L'environment prepared Montessori is a child-friendly space where children can carry out the activities they want to do independently. It is prepared with what the child needs to learn and explore in a safe space. This includes having objects at their height for easy access, a wide selection of materials from which they can choose, and objects arranged in an organized and orderly fashion.

montessori method child classroom

This principle supports Montessori's main objective of giving children the freedom to decide what work they would like to do, according to their needs and interests at the time.

"When we say "environment", we mean the totality of objects that a child can freely choose and use as he sees fit, according to his needs and desires. Initially, the educator simply helps the child to find his place among all these different things, and teaches him the precise use of each of them. But then he leaves him free to choose and carry out his activity.

Maria Montessori, The discovery of the child

  • Self-education

Self-education is the Montessori principle that reinforces the belief that children are capable of learning on their own, given the right environment and encouragement. This principle supports the Montessori Method's main objective of respecting the child as a whole person, capable of controlling his or her own learning. Self-education represents the totality of Montessori principles in action. It is the taking into account of the child's absorbing mind and sensitive periods, as well as the prepared environment that enables the child to learn autonomously.

The Montessori Method as a driving force in education

Although the Montessori Method is known as a positive parenting educational method for young children, its principles and purpose will benefit the child beyond his or her years. The idea of observing the child to determine his needs, and allowing him to follow his interests, is an excellent approach to adopt in and out of the classroom. Such methods give children the confidence and serenity to rely on themselves to learn and evolve in their environment.

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