In the early 1900’s Dr. Maria Montessori was teaching at a school for underprivileged children. Her idea was to create a space to get the children off the streets while their parents were at work.
Through working with these children, she recognised their ability to concentrate deeply on a task, and repeat it, until they perfected the skill.
She also noted that they were sensitive to order in the environment and that given the freedom to move through prepared practical activities they showed a preference for the specifically designed materials over toys.
Dr. Maria Montessori developed her system of education over many years of working with children continuously making the observations which are the 12 guiding principles in a Montessori classroom today, namely:
An interested child has an intense level of concentration.
An essential feature of a child’s learning process is to have the opportunity to repeat an activity until they are satisfied.
Children have a love of order; consistency develops the trust they need to become independent learners and is an essential step in their development.
Children may seem to prefer familiar material but given sufficient options their natural curiosity will lead them to make choices and develop independence.
Self-discipline develops from being encouraged to make choices and taking responsibility for one’s actions.
Work & Play
Adults view ‘play’ as the opposite of ‘work’ but for children both are a learning process. The environment needs to be prepared with purposeful activities to support spatial, tactile and cognitive learning.
Reward & Punishment
Interesting work is the key to orderly behaviour. If children are consumed by an activity the satisfaction of completing the task is all the reward they want. There is no evidence that young children are motivated by rewards while learning. (Bribery is completely different!)
Silence & Working Alone
Although children enjoy company they appear more satisfied when working alone.
Sweets are not a distraction to a child absorbed in a meaningful activity.
In children, self-esteem and independence grow together. Humiliation can be very harmful to them.
With the correct preparation, a child can suddenly explode into writing.
Writing before Reading
Children who suddenly wrote could read what they had written