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The Montessori method, although over 100 years old, still holds immense and not fully utilized potential by educators (and parents). This is a big mistake! This is because Montessorian children are more open to the world around them, boldly follow their talents and develop at their individual best pace. How to raise a child in the Montessori spirit? What is the Montessori method?
Where did the Montessori method come from and what is it all about?
Montessori is a pedagogical concept whose origins took place over a century ago, in Italy. The first Montessori school was founded by the educator-doctor Maria Montessori. Right from the beginning, the techniques and methods of this type of education stemmed directly not only from experience in working with children but also from the very open, for that time, mind of the doctor. In fact, she paid particular attention not to a rigid educational programme to which children were expected to conform, but to the individual emotional development of the child.
What’s more, the Montessorian children were closely monitored. Their interests and talents were analysed, and their individual character traits were fully accepted In a nutshell – Maria Montessori turned the concept of teaching of the time upside down, giving children choices, building their confidence and offering a wonderful environment for self-development of their talents.
Although the Montessori method may still sound unrealistic in some circles and at least in traditional schools, nurseries and kindergartens – an increasing number of conscious parents want their children to follow this path. Exactly what effects can Montessori teaching have on children?
Teaching using the Montessori method – what effects can it have?
Returning to the described pioneering Montessori schools, the first positive effects of this type of education did not take long to appear. It was quickly noticed that the alumni of these schools and kindergartens:
- are characterised by greater self-confidence,
- are more likely to take the initiative,
- have a more developed emotional intelligence,
- are more likely to behave empathetically,
- are focused on the task at hand and are not discouraged despite possible failures.
The Montessori method is all about respecting a child’s choices and accepting their individuality, which results in the same thing – building confidence in toddlers, teaching respect for other people and things, and the ability to focus on their interests. Many adults brought up within the traditional rigid framework of educational programmes have had their individuality and healthy selfishness effectively tempered. Who knows how many real talents have been cooled by the template education programme?
Principles of the concept – what is Montessori all about?
It is worth remembering that the concept described has nothing to do with the often overused and artificial term stress-free parenting. Children who are exposed to Montessori education on a daily basis have boundaries set and know what consistency is. Some of the main principles of Montessori education include, for example:
- learning through personal experience and action – less theory, more practice,
- independence training,
- learning in silence, reducing intense external stimuli,
- implementing the learning of order and tidiness through play and matching appropriate objects and educational toys,
- combining children from different age categories,
- approaching individually to child development.
Montessori toys – what should they look like?
Montessori educational aids and toys are an integral part of this educational concept. Some of those that can be used from an early age include, for example, sorters, simple educational toys made from natural materials, wooden puzzles for children and – of great interest to younger and older children – manipulative boards. Even if you do not plan to apply all the principles of this concept to your child’s education, it is important to introduce simple toys (e.g. from Woobiboo) into your child’s life from an early age and not to overdo the decorative elements in their room.
Montessori-style decorations for a child’s room are devoid of colourful lights, sounds, and plastic elements Like toys – they have many possible uses and support a child’s development from an early age. What’s more – they usually imitate real objects, real-looking animals, etc.
Montessori and sensory processing disorders
The Maria Montessori method is particularly recommended for children diagnosed with sensory processing or sensory integration disorders. Educational materials and toys in the spirit of this concept allow free play without the risk of being overstimulated by loud noises or strong, pulsating lights. They can be used successfully in a variety of therapies, as well as in fine motor training in the comfort of the home. Manipulative boards, puzzles and other simple wooden toys (e.g. sorters) are excellent tools for therapeutic play for children with cerebral palsy, Asperger’s Syndrome or autism. Nevertheless – they are really recommended for all children – the youngest and the slightly older ones!
When thinking of toys designed in the Montessori spirit, most people – rightly so – have manipulative boards in mind. A store that offers this type of toy should be chosen with care. This is because good manipulative boards will be designed by people with a thorough knowledge of Montessori concepts and who are able to match the degree of complexity of the elements placed on the board, puzzle and other educational toys.