Dr. Maria Montessori dedicated her life to educational reform. In the early 1900’s she discovered that young children learn easily and unconsciously from their environment. Her phrase, “the absorbent mind” captures her philosophy of children engaged actively in a prepared space.
A Montessori classroom provides children with an opportunity to explore a wide range of areas that excite the senses and lead them from one developmental stage to the next. The children are given freedom to choose in a carefully prepared environment that has materials that draw their attention. They are free to work without interruption and are encouraged to be independent.
Visitors to Crestwood Montessori will see children working happily with one another, or by themselves. One might be spraying a plant, while someone else has prepared sliced apple and is sharing it with friends; another child will be building words on a floor mat with our moveable alphabet. Some will be busy with crafts, or sewing a button on burlap. They will take care of their school by putting their work away when finished, and sweeping up a mess that they notice, or wiping a table that appears dirty. Grace and courtesy are encouraged and commended by all.
The role of a Montessori teacher is unique. Traditional teaching practices have the teacher guiding the child, whereas in a Montessori classroom, the child guides the teacher. Montessori teachers place a tremendous amount of faith in the ability of each child. Dr. Montessori’s extensive research with young children showed that the children are more than capable of teaching themselves.
A well trained Montessori teacher observes the child, and actively plans and presents lessons and materials according to each child’s ability and interests at that time. Maria Montessori labelled the teacher “a scientific observer”, in which the main goal is towards helping children succeed independently.