Foundation of Montessori Curriculum
Maria Montessori was a respected expert on child development. Her ideas and practices emphasized that every child goes through a unique development process and is a unique individual that can learn in line with his or her capacity. It was Montessori’s belief that knowledge requires more than simple memorization of educational materials. Montessori insisted that knowledge should be made specific enough so that any child of any age can understand. She developed a method and series of materials that can be integrated into the classroom setting.
Montessori teachings are different from traditional classroom methods that focuses on children learning the same thing, at the same time, in the same way. Montessori curriculum emphasizes learning as a process that cannot be determined by a child’s age. Instead, learning is a process that is determined by the rate and speed at which a child can acquire one skill before moving on to another skill. This is why it is not uncommon to see mixed-age groupings in Montessori classrooms, where a 3-year old may be in the same classroom settings as a 5-year old, based on developmental ability.
Maria Montessori (1870-1952)
Principles of Montessori Curriculum
The Montessori curriculum has been supported by many as an ideal learning environment for children from primary to elementary grade levels. Currently, there are over 20,000 Montessori schools across the globe. These schools adopt most of the main principles of Montessori education:
- Children are to be respected for their individuality.
- Children have an intrinsic, or natural, motivation to learn and will do so if given the right resources and opportunities in the classroom.
- The first six years of a child’s life are the most formative.
- Adults in the classroom are merely facilitators and observers of learning; children have the ability to direct their own learning without interference from adults.
- Rote memorization of material does not nurture a child’s individual skills and abilities and, in fact, inhibits, or reduces, them.
Emphasis is placed on early childhood development. During this period, children are exposed to Montessori methods and practices that are continued well into the primary years of school. It is during the early childhood period that children’s minds are the most adaptable to learning new information.