Sunday, April 4, 2010

What is Montessori?

"Montessori" is the family name of Maria Montessori, who developed the Montessori way of teaching. She was the first woman who graduated from the University of Rome La Sapienza Medical School, becoming the first female doctor in Italy.

(For more information about the history, please visit Wikipedia.)
(For a good overview of Montessori method of Teaching, please visit The International Montessori Index)

Montessori consists of TWO important elements, which are the Montessori Teaching Method and Montessori Philosophy. The Montessori Teaching Method is the "Body" and Montessori Philosophy is the "SOUL". These two elements cannot do without each other -- they have to complement each other so to help children achieve the following:

1. Develop a love for learning

2. Independence

3. High Self-esteem

4. Concentration level

5. Freedom within limitation

There are 5 areas in Montessori (Practical Life, Education of the Senses, Mathematics, Literacy, Cultural). These 5 areas are intertwined. Some activities in one area may be a preparation for another area. For example, learning how to arrange the Long Rods from the shortest to the longest is the education of the Visual Sense. This helps to prepare the child for Mathematics counting later when working with the Number Rods -- arranging fixed quantity rods from 1 to 10.

  • Practical Life activities can help to prepare a child to use a pencil to write later on because a lot of emphasis is on the strengthening of the pincer grip (first three fingers).

  • Education of the Senses includes Visual sense (dimensions & colours), Gustatory (taste), Olfactory (smell), Auditory (hearing), Tactile (touch), Baric (weight) and Thermic (temperature) senses.

    [To teach the concept of a map in the Cultural area, first we have to start from the Tactile lesson. The children need to understand the concept of Rough & Smooth in various activities, which leads them to understand water is smooth and land is rough. From here, we proceed to introduce them a globe with just water (smooth surface) and land (sandpaper). Then, we introduce the various continents on the globe. Next, we flatten the globe and it looks 2-D like a map.]

Note: There are a lot more examples that I can't list them all out here.

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