Maria Montessori was very fond of children. She has achieved great success, having created a unique method of early childhood development, which is very popular today. The point of this method is in giving full freedom to understand the world. For the implementation of pupils’ cognitive interests, the teacher should prepare a special learning “environment” and enable this “environment” to act independently.
“House of the Child” by Maria Montessori
Maria Montessori started to establish her “environment” with completely abandoning traditional desks and benches. Instead, there were movable tables and chairs in her “House of the Child” (her day boarding school for pre-school children). The child could easily rearrange them, occupying some comfortable place. If the child wanted, he/she could find a place on a special mat on the floor, studying the teaching materials independently. The teacher helped in choosing the teaching materials, but did not impose his/her opinion. The child could be involved in the activity he/she liked, using the materials as long as he/she wanted. The only rule to be strictly followed when working with the material was to neatly remove all the materials and clean the place after the work was finished.
Child’s Development by Maria Montessori
Montessori classroom is divided into a number of thematic areas, or “zones.” During training, it is not forbidden to move freely from one “zone” to another. Little children usually like the area of practical life. It is not surprising because it usually contains the objects that one is prohibited to touch at home: pots, forks, spoons, cups of water, rice, cereals. It is adults with a bored face who clean the table, polish silver and sort the rice. For the baby at the age of two or three years, these are the most interesting activities! With the help of various zippers, buttons, buckles, and shoe laces, little kids learn to dress themselves and take care of themselves. In addition, these exercises promote the training of fine motor skills. Sensory development zone allows the child to get acquainted with the world through senses: to learn to distinguish colors, smells, sounds, sizes, and the shape of the surrounding objects. For mental development, there are such areas as linguistic, mathematical, geographical, and natural.
Pros of Maria Montessori Educational Method
Maria Montessori educational method has its undeniable advantages:
- Children develop at their own pace, avoiding comparison with their peers, which is not always favorable.
- This educational method does not involve “very early” development, which may lead to neuroses and frustrations. For example, Maria Montessori believed that reading could be taught at 4-5 years, but not at the age of eight months, as proposed by Glenn Doman. At the same time, Montessori method is suitable for educating children at a very young age of a few months.
- Parents are accustomed to the fact that their child does not need to be praised and rewarded for his achievements. An enthusiastic child allegedly does not need praise. It is a debatable issue, but such an opinion protects the baby from being the subject of parental ambition.
- The child can do what he/she finds interesting at the moment.
- Even the most loving parents cannot afford buying as many books as any Montessori kindergarten has. A lot of materials are unique, and it is difficult to buy them in a store.
- Moreover, there is no problem of making a naughty child sit at a desk for at least 20 minutes. Fascinated by an interesting activity, even the most hyperactive child will demonstrate miracles of perseverance. And if you can not sit at a desk, you can comfortably sit on a mat.
- The Montessori method promotes independence in children.
Cons of Maria Montessori Educational Method
However, using this technique exclusively for the development of children is not always possible.
This educational method has some cons:
- This method is somewhat one-sided: first, it is oriented at the child’s sensory development and fostering the qualities required for perception and processing of information from the environment (for the development of attention and logic). At the same time, it is not aimed at disclosing the emotional sphere of the child and his communication skills, at stimulating imagination. In a Montessori group, many extrovert children usually feel bored, since by temperament they are more focused on the interaction not with the “environment”, but with other children. This is one of the main disadvantages of Montessori pedagogy.
- This method can be used more successfully to teach pre-school children than older children. Because mastering the way of pouring water from one cup into another one is not the same thing as a course of algebra. It is focused mainly on children’s short-term interests. That is why the number of modern Montessori kindergartens is hundreds of times bigger than the number of Montessori schools.
- The development of Maria Montessori educational method is characterized by a complete lack of the concept of “competition”. Comparing one child to another is believed to make no sense: each person is different and has his/her own way of development. But try to imagine a professional swimmer or dancer, whose training was based on the principles of Montessori. Comparing their results with those of other people is commonly needed: it allows the child to understand in which areas of knowledge he/she can achieve perfection, and what he should deal with for the sake of getting a general idea.