Children enter the world gifted by nature. With the adult’s help in preparing a beautiful, supportive environment conducive to the child’s development, the child can carry out the important task of constructing his personality. It is a ceaseless and intense labour, carried out with great joy when assisted by the unconscious powers which nature bestows on the child during the first six years of life.
This was the great discovery that Maria Montessori made: that the child creates himself as he interacts with the environment, revealing the person that he can become. That is the primary task of the child. The universality of her discovery of the child has been proven over 100 years throughout the world, with children in all cultural, social, physical and psychological conditions.
Montessori describes education as an aid to life, as a means of supporting and nurturing the continual unfolding of each child’s personality. Based on careful, systematic observation of children and their needs and interests at each level of development, the Montessori approach to early childhood education recognizes the tremendous developmental achievements of each child.
The Montessori Prepared Environment
The Montessori Children’s Community (The MCC) In 2006 the MTCBC opened the MCC as a lab school for children aged 2.5 to 6 years. It is one of the sites used for regular observation and teaching practice. It also offers the opportunity for students in training at the MTCBCto go as a group with the Director of Training to observe the same thing at the same time, leading to fruitful discussion.
Beauty, Order, Accessibility – Walk into a Montessori classroom, anywhere in the world, and you will invariably see happy and busy children working purposefully. The classroom itself will typically be beautiful and enticing. Great care has been taken to create a learning environment that will reinforce the child’s independence and natural urge toward self-development. This is achieved with three essential elements: beauty, order and accessibility. The Montessori materials are beautifully handcrafted and are displayed on low open shelves.
Montessori Materials – Every material has a specific purpose and is presented to the children in a manner that enables them to direct their own learning. They are provocative, enticing and simple tools that stimulate logical thought, exploration and discovery. Each one presents one concept or idea at a time and has a “control of error”. If a child does something incorrectly it will be self-evident. For example, the geometric shape will not fit the hole, the water will spill on the table, or the last label will not match the last picture. Seeing his or her own “mistake” becomes a challenge that entices the child to further activity and discovery.
Community – The Montessori classroom is not merely a place for individual learning. It is a vibrant community of children, where the child learns to interact socially in a variety of ways. The three-year age range enables older children to develop an awareness of other children’s needs, realize they can help, and truly help the younger ones. By observing the older ones, the younger children are inspired to take on new challenges. With such a variety of levels in the classroom, each child can work at his or her own pace, unhindered by competition and encouraged by co-operation. Children attend daily and for a three-year cycle.