The most important feature of the Montessori Method is that the method is built on a unique educational philosophy, and this philosophy does not find its source in a life away from children, as many philosophers did before it. Maria Montessori began developing her method in San Lorenzo, Rome, with low-income families, in the early 1900s, by working with and observing children. For this reason, Maria Montessori says, while describing the education method she created, “I studied the child. I took what the boy gave me and expressed them. That is the Montessori Method.”
Today, Montessori Education in the world is primarily applied during pre-school and primary education. But in some countries, there are Montessori schools that can be continued up to university.
Montessori’s educational philosophy is very different from the traditional understanding because of its view of the child. According to Montessori, children learn, think and perceive in a completely different way from adults. For this reason, educating the child by trying to see the child as an incomplete example of the adult means continuing a mistake that has been made for thousands of years. Children have unique needs and rights. The only thing that the adult can do in the development process of the child is to remove the obstacles in front of the child and meet his needs. Education is to enrich the experiences that the child can have during this period of self-construction and to offer experiences in the direction of progress.
In the Montessori Method, it can be applied thanks to the mixed age application and individual training. Today, collective education is mostly based on the assumption that students in a class can learn the same subject at the same time, with the same method. However, in order for learning to take place, there must be a balance between the challenge of the subject to be learned and the readiness of the learner. It is impossible to think that all students in a class have the same readiness. As a result of this situation, students are called so-called successful, mediocre and unsuccessful. Individual education allows the child to learn at their own pace. In the Montessori Method, the child does not move on to the next stage without mastering it. Thus, he does not experience the feeling of failure.
M. Montessori discovered the periods of sensitivity that enable the child to acquire a special talent and end with the acquisition of this talent. When the requirements of these sensitive periods are not acted upon, the possibility of discovering a new talent will be lost. Of course, this ability can be regained later, but it requires a lot of effort than during sensitive periods. These sensitivity stages and age periods are as follows: Movement (0-1 years), language (0-6 years), small objects (1-4 years), order (1-2 years), music (2-6 years), elegance and politeness (2-6 years), refinement of the senses (2-6 years), writing (3-4 years), reading (3-5 years), spatial relationships (4-6 years), mathematics (4-6 years) age). During these periods of sensitivity, the child will learn in an unconscious stage called the “absorbent mind”, unlike the conscious mind of the adult. Academic work is important in Montessori kindergartens, as the child can learn these subjects much more easily during periods of sensitivity. The best example of learning through the absorbent mind in sensitive stages is when a child learns his mother tongue. Any language to be learned after the age of 0-6, which is the sensitive stage for language, will not be learned as easily or as well as the mother tongue. However, in the 0-6 age period, it is seen that children easily learn 2-3 languages at once.
The Montessori Method places great emphasis on the independence of the child. Because independence is needed to use freedom well. Therefore, the Montessori educational environment is designed to give the child independence. Unnecessary help to the child by adults is the biggest obstacle to gaining independence. However, the majority of adults help children by thinking that they cannot perform many actions on their own, and hinder them in actions they think they cannot do. While this makes children dependent on adults, it also destroys their spontaneous activity; prevent them from discovering themselves and their environment. Therefore, the Montessori teacher is passive in the classroom and does not help the child unnecessarily.
Nowadays, kindergartens use classroom furniture designed in child size, influenced by the Montessori Method. This practice allows the child to dominate the environment, not the child, and gives him independence. However, in the Montessori Method, this application is not limited to furniture only. Materials containing error control, hanging boards, pictures, etc. on the walls at eye level, contributing to the preparation of the table, gathering and post-meal cleaning by actively participating in the children’s meal times, being responsible for the cleanliness of the classroom are important examples of practices that contribute to children’s mastery of the environment and gaining independence. . The same practices should be done in home life. In particular, a home environment should be created where the young child will need as little adult assistance as possible and the child should be left free to do his/her own actions.
One of the most important elements of the method in the pre-school and primary school stages is the specially designed materials. These materials lead to self-education through self-control and help the child move towards specialization through successive activities. Since each of the materials includes the control of the error, the child can work on his own without the help of the teacher. The teacher introduces the material to the child, who is ready for a new material, with a special presentation method. This promotional material includes all stages from taking the material from the shelf to placing it back on the shelf appropriately for the student who will use it later. After the teacher presents the material, the child will work on his own or in small spontaneously formed groups until he or she has mastered the material. The teacher will observe and record the child’s work. Montessori materials are placed on the shelves that children can reach according to the curriculum areas of daily life, sensory, culture, language and mathematics, from simple to complex.
There is only one set of each material in a Montessori classroom. It develops a spirit of unity among these children, even though it is not explicitly requested. To work with material that someone else is working with, the child has to wait for it to finish or ask permission to use it. This situation also prevents children from working with the same materials all the time. Since everyone will work with different materials in a pre-school class with an average of 20 people, the child will also have the opportunity to watch the use of the materials by their friends.
Every piece of Montessori materials has been carefully designed and is part of a series of other materials, from the simple to the complex. As the child progresses through the series of materials, he naturally moves from purely sensory activities to concrete stages.
“Three-stage presentation” is used to show the Montessori materials to the child. Three-step presentation is a fundamental technique used by Montessori educators to introduce children to a new lesson and material, and to guide them through the process of understanding and mastering. While introducing the materials with a three-stage presentation, unnecessary words and movements are avoided. Actions to increase understanding begin with discernible steps so that the child has a chance to be successful the next time they use the material.
Montessori Materials: Daily Life Materials, Sensory Materials, Language Materials, Mathematics Materials, Biology Materials, Geography Materials (Cosmic) can be classified in 6 basic areas.
The Montessori Method is a method that follows the guidance of the child. At all stages of 0-18 age education, the child is expected to direct his own education and to have the first say in his educational life. From the first months of the child’s life, the adult who undertakes the education of the child should see the child as an artist trying to create himself, and should prepare the necessary environment without interrupting this creation process with unnecessary interventions, and learn to respect him and his choices.