A well-educated population is essential for a country to be successful economically, socially and culturally. This can be best achieved through early-childhood education because when children start learning at an early age, they are statistically more inclined to continue to higher education. According to Cecilia Ibru, the Montessori Method is an example of one way to encourage children’s intellectual growth.
The Montessori Method
The Montessori Method, developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, is a child-centered educational approach that is based on scientific observations of the development of children from infancy to adulthood. Children are naturally eager to learn and absorb a huge amount of knowledge especially if they are in a supportive environment. The Montessori Method provides them with an environment that is specifically prepared and organized for learning.
The main components of the Montessori Method program include:
• Multi-age groups of children that encourages peer learning
• Large blocks of learning time that is not interrupted
• A guided choice of activities
• The use of specially-designed Montessori learning materials properly arranged
• An attractive and comfortable environment
In early childhood, the Method provides activities designed to give the child direct experiences with the world around them to help develop their cognitive powers. Young children naturally learn through touching, smelling, hearing, seeing, movement and tasting. The Montessori Method makes use of these faculties for directed learning. As the child develops, he or she adds abstract thinking skills to the concrete experience and learn to apply this knowledge to the world in which they live. As they move to adulthood, their thoughts and emotional development help them understand universal concepts such as justice, equality and freedom. This is how the child’s intellectual growth is encouraged.
Montessori Method teachers are trained to allow the child to pursue his or her own interests. They do not impose or force rote learning. The teacher is trained to help the child use the specially designed educational materials and observe the child’s sensitive periods. Concepts and lessons are matched to the periods when a child is most open to absorb and internalize.
Benefits of the Montessori Method
The aim of this Method is to help children develop their potential and become competent, respectful and responsible citizens. They learn to love learning and understand that learning continues throughout life. Some of the main benefits are:
• Each child is valued as a unique person because children learn in different ways. This Method accommodates all learning styles, and the teacher guides the child in their individualized learning plan.
• Children learn order, concentration, coordination and independence at an early age. The materials are designed for self-regulation, and children are encouraged to think for themselves throughout their childhood.
• The multi-age classroom is a caring community. The older children enjoy helping the younger ones, and the young one look up to the older children. The teachers are role models of kindness and help with peaceful conflict resolution.
• Within certain limits, the children enjoy freedom as they are able to choose their areas of learning. The teachers help the students seek answers to their own questions.
• When the students mature, they learn how to self-correct and self-assess, so they have a realistic and critical eye on their own work.
The Montessori Method helps children all over the world become better citizens and develop their intellectual curiosity for the betterment of society in general.