Maria Montessori was born in 1870 and became the first female physician in Italy in 1896. She was employed, as a medical professional to assess the physical needs of “defective children,” children who were mentally or otherwise disabled. She designed material and techniques that allowed them to work in areas previously considered beyond their capacity. Her great triumph came when these children took the state examinations along with normal children, and passed them!
In 1907 she opened her Casa del Bambini (The Children’s House) to work with slum children below the age of six. Through her observations of and experimentation with these children, she discovered their remarkable ability to absorb knowledge from their surroundings. Children will teach themselves from their environment! Montessori further observed that children love concentration, repetition, order, work, creativity, accomplishment, and silence. These truths inspired her lifelong pursuit of educational reform, which has resulted in the creation of
Montessori schools around the world.
The teacher’s role is unobtrusive–
Practical Life activities that include pouring, sweeping, dressing, stacking, folding,wiping, polishing, and washing. Sensorial activities that explore sound, color, size, shape, smell, and touch. Mathematics activities in which he manipulates objects in the forms of units (1 bead), tens (a rod of 10 beads), hundreds (a square of 100 beads), and thousands (a cube of 1000 beads). Language activities that emphasize phonics, beginning with sandpaper letters. Cultural activities that cover geography, music, art, science, and history.
All Montessori exercises employ free choice (within boundaries). The limits of a child’s freedom to choose are as follows: