« Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment»
– Maria Montessori
Where does the Montessori pedagogy come from?
The first Montessori school was founded in Italy in 1907 thanks to Maria Montessori. This learning method was popularized following observations and discoveries made by Italy’s first woman doctor. Throughout her research, she was able to observe that when a child is put in a suitable environment, he has the ability to learn on his own. This pedagogical approach allows children to learn at their own pace all while developing skills that will be practical in their everyday life. More precisely, it emphasizes fine motor skills and helps to develop coordination, mastery of language and writing. The child chooses the activity he/she wishes to undertake in order to make them responsible and autonomous. According to Maria Montessori, “the child is not a vase to be filled, but a spring that is allowed to gush forth”. In other words, the child has the necessary capacities to learn independently. With this said, this approach requires parents and educators to explain to the child how an activity should be done. Afterwards, they should only intervene as a last resort. This way, the children will be able to play by themselves which will also lead to developing their self-confidence!
Principles of the Montessori teaching method
Now that you know how the Montessori method originated, here are the main principles to helping your child be the main character when it comes to his/her development.
The unconscious absorbing mind and the conscious absorbing mind
According to Maria Montessori, the absorbent mind happens between 0 and 3 years old. This phase of development allows the child to absorb everything! It could even be compared to a sponge effect. This is when he/she will be able to forge their personality and become who they truly are. They start to understand the world around them by observing their environment. Those who are older will automatically become their role models. This allows them to understand and process emotions, language, behaviours, etc., which they will eventually be able to express themselves.
Later on, between 3 and 6 years old, the conscious absorbing mind takes place. This phase helps develop the capacity for opposition and willpower. The conscious absorbing period allows the, now conscious child, to choose what he/she wants to do or learn. They now have the capacity to communicate their needs and desires. Their desire to learn also encourages them to do activities that push them to develop their potential.
The role of the educator
The role of the educator and/or parent is crucial for Montessori thinking. The educator must explain to the child, in a detailed and clear manner, how the activity is to be done. Once the child has understood how the activity works, the person accompanying the child should no longer intervene. This allows the child to develop his/her creativity all while learning to take control of their activity. At Kimboo, our toys promote your child’s motor, cognitive and sensory development. Our toys are locally made with high-quality natural materials. These include Russian cherry wood and maple wood, which also help stimulate the child’s senses. All in all, show them how to use the Pikler triangle or balance board and let the hours of fun begin.
Each child does not learn the same way, nor do they learn at the same pace. Montessori pedagogy invites parents and educators to respect the speed at which their child is learning. For example, if you try to explain an activity to your child and you notice that he/she is unable to understand, simply let it go and introduce another activity. You can come back to this one once the child is ready. It is very important to respect the child’s cognitive abilities and to let them learn at their own pace. In addition, although group activities can be beneficial, most Montessori type activities are done individually to allow the child to develop their own way of doing.
Learning through play
Learning through play, experiential learning, is a fundamental principle in Montessori. It allows them to develop their motor and intellectual capacities due to the fact that they are using their senses to full capacity. According to Maria Montessori, knowledge cannot be imposed on children. It is only by using their senses that they will develop an understanding of the environment around them. Lastly, this method favours learning rather than interdictions.
The layout of a Montessori space
By creating an atmosphere conducive to your child’s motor and cognitive development, your child will have the opportunity to develop his/her autonomy and independence. To create such an environment, it is important that the play space be adapted to your toddler. In fact, for your child to be comfortable in their environment, the house, furniture and toys must all be adapted in order to promote their autonomy. To learn more about creating a Montessori environment at home, read our article on the subject.
In a future article, we will discuss the many benefits of Montessori pedagogy for children. Don’t forget to visit our website to discover our natural wood products that allow your child to develop their autonomy as well as their motor and cognitive abilities. Read on to learn more about creating a Montessori environment at home. The article provides some very interesting and helpful tips to create a Montessori space.