THE MONTESSORI PHILOSOPHY
According to Montessori, “A child’s work is to create the person she/he will become.” Children are born with special mental powers which aid in the work of their own construction. But they cannot accomplish the task of self-construction without purposeful movement, exploration, and discovery of their environment – both the things and people within it”.
They must be given the freedom to use their inborn powers to develop physically, intellectually, and spiritually. A Montessori classroom provides this freedom within the limits of an environment which develops a sense of order and self-discipline.
Also basic to Dr. Maria Montessori’s philosophy is her discovery of Sensitive Periods in children’s development. During these periods children seek certain stimuli with immense intensity, to the exclusion of all others. So it is during this time that a child can most easily master a particular learning skill. Dr. Montessori devised special materials to aid children in each Sensitive Period. It is the responsibility of the teacher to recognize these periods in individual children and put them in touch with the appropriate materials in the classroom environment.
The focus of Montessori education continually changes to adapt to the child’s natural stages of development. Dr. Montessori described these stages as Planes of Development, which occur in approximately six year intervals, each of which is further subdivided into three year segments. These Planes of Development are the basis for the three-year age groupings found in Montessori school classes: Ages three to six; six to nine; nine to twelve; and twelve to fifteen.