The Montessori method, which started to be implemented with the Children’s House in 1907, was developed by Maria Montessori. Montessori, the first female doctor in Italy, formed the basis of her method with her studies with mentally retarded children. As a result of his achievements, he decided to use this method in the education of normal children. This method has reached maturity under the guidance of children’s attitudes, interests and behaviors. The Montessori method is mostly applied in pre-school institutions and all education levels, including high school. It has also been used in adults with Alzheimer’s disease.
The Montessori method classified students according to their level of development:
0-14 months baby,
14-36 months toddler,
3-6 years of early childhood,
6-9 years old primary school,
9-12 years old primary school second level,
12-15 years old secondary school,
15-18 years high school.
The average number of children in Montessori classrooms for different levels is as follows: 8 babies in the infant class, 15 children in the toddler class, 30 children in the early childhood class, 30 children in the primary school class, 30 children in the secondary school class.
There should be a balanced distribution of different ages in a Montessori kindergarten classroom of 30 people. A Montessori guide and a Montessori assistant are required in every classroom up to primary school level. In the seminars held, the child/teacher ratio applied in kindergartens was criticized by the participants and it was said that the number of these children was high. Cheryl Ferreira, AMI trainer, responded to this criticism as follows; “The more children there are, the less the teacher will interfere with the child.” This answer clearly expresses the importance of the passivity feature of the Montessori guide.
Children study together in the same class as a mixed age. Mixed-age education enables younger children in the classroom to watch older children work, thus gaining insight into their future work and even transitioning to advanced studies earlier than their potential. It enables older children to help younger children and provide lessons, thus reinforcing what they have learned and gaining leadership qualities. Teaching a child a lesson can enable both parties to learn better.
In the Montessori method, mixed age can be applied with individual education. Today, group education is mostly carried out with the thought 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, the learner must have a talent for the subject to be learned. It is impossible to think that all students in a class have the same ability. As a result of this situation, some students are seen as unsuccessful. Individual education allows the child to learn at their own pace. In the Montessori method, the child does not move on to another work without specializing in one work, so that he or she does not experience the feeling of failure.
Curriculum and plans are not implemented in the first stage of kindergarten and primary school, as individual education is based on the child’s interest and development. At the primary school second stage, at the secondary and high school level, the academic year is divided into five-week main periods in which the guide determines the themes and topics. The student makes the study plan by himself or with the guide. In the first stage of kindergarten and primary school, the guide observes each child and decides whether he is ready for the next task. The most important characteristics of guides are silence, observation ability, passivity and patience.
The Montessori method is a method that follows the guidance of the child. In all 0-18 age education, the child is expected to direct his own education and to have a say in his educational life. From the first months in the adult child’s life, he should see the child as an artist trying to form himself, and should prepare the necessary environment without interrupting this formation process with unnecessary interventions, and learn to respect his choices and his choices.
After determining the criteria for the development of the child, Montessori developed methods and materials suitable for these criteria. Montessori aimed to develop children especially in the areas of movement education, education of the senses and language education. According to Montessori, the child should be free in his movements, everything should not disturb the child and should be prepared in accordance with the child. If necessary, the teacher should be able to adjust the situation according to the child. Another dimension that is as important as movement in the education of the child is the education of the senses. Materials are suitable for the child’s shape, color, texture, taste, size, etc. argued that it is necessary in education about perceptions. In this program, exercises on the development of concepts related to sensations have a great place.
According to Maria Montessori, the child is the spiritual embryo. He explained that the inner needs of this mysteriously self-forming being should not be set aside by adults’ own expectations. As he put it, “our interest in the child should not be driven by the eagerness to ‘teach him anything’, but by aiming at the constant burning of the light that burns within him, which is called intelligence”. Montessori thinks: People will reach true peace when the child’s developmental needs are fully and lovingly met, that is, when the child’s needs become the society’s top priority.
Montessori stated that the educational approach, which he explained with the concept of environments prepared for multiple age groups, is based on the child’s natural learning tendency. The prepared environment consists of specially designed and stimulating development materials under the guidance of teachers trained according to the Montessori method and invites the child to participate in learning activities of their own choice. The prepared environment is a non-competitive environment that supports self-learning through the use of designed materials. The different areas in this environment are to accommodate many different activities as well as the opportunity to move.
Respect for the child is essential in the Montessori method from infancy. It has to be remembered that babies are little people learning to be big people. Babies need to participate in every activity related to their own care. This means talking to them about what happened and what they were asked to participate in.
The inventions of Maria Montessori and the method she put forward as a result of these discoveries is an important method that can help parents and educators in any situation. His path is to reach wisdom as a result of study and understanding. His discoveries revolutionized not only the education and care of newborn babies, but also the education of children from primary school to high school.
The environment prepared in the Montessori method is associated with the freedom and independence of the child. The environment is designed by the child to facilitate maximum independent learning and exploration. Montessori explains the relationship between the environment and freedom as follows: “If they had prepared an environment suitable for their size for their energy and physical abilities, the child would be free and a big step would have been taken towards the solution of educational problems”.
In this method, developmental periods are divided into 6-year periods. In the first stage, which is divided into 0-3 and 3-6, the child is the spiritual embryo. During this psycho-embryonic stage, the various forces develop separately and independently of each other. The child has an active spiritual life, although he cannot reveal it as a spiritual embryo, and will secretly integrate this inner life over a long period of time.
Montessori states that in the psychic embryo stage, two of the three major stages that physiologists consider the criteria for the normal development of children are related to movement. These two stages are walking and speaking functions. Two functions closely related to human intelligence are considered together with the tongue movement for speaking and the hand movement for working. He even owns the human environment with his hands. However, this need is ignored in the family and the environment, the furniture surrounding the child belongs to the adults. The child’s movement is not random, it is based on the adult’s movements.
Montessori was closely interested in the education and personality of the educator and did not consider it sufficient for educators to use only his methods. In the Montessori method, the role of the educator was placed on a new ground and the role of passivity was given to the educator. According to Montessori, the educator is the person who removes the obstacles, indirectly represents an authority figure and enables the child to be active. The educator should analyze himself resolutely and by considering the methods in order to eliminate the weaknesses that hinder his relationship with the child.
While children take part in self-directed activities individually or in small groups, the Montessori teacher plays the role of a humble administrator in the classroom. It is the teacher who determines the needs of the child, helps, gives information, educates, teaches the child the material and shows how to use it, and prepares the environment. In the Montessori approach, the teacher is responsible for preparing the environment and enabling the children to interact with the environment. A Montessori teacher is called a “guide”. Teachers give children the opportunity to use their potential for their own development. In addition, it is the duty of the teacher to ensure that the environment he prepares changes when it does not meet the interests and needs of the child. Teachers also need to establish relationships with each other and provide information transfer.
Important characteristic elements in a Montessori program are:
-Process focus, not product
-Cooperation instead of competition
-Sensorimotor preparation for intellectual development
-natural social development
-Biological bases to support developmental needs
-Developing children’s autonomy
-Developing talent-based success
It can be said that the prominent features of Montessori programs are functionality and flexibility. The reason why the flexibility feature comes to the fore is that it considers individual differences as a basic element. Since it is a universally common method, it is not possible to say clearly about the weight of the factors in determining the programs.
The Montessori curriculum is highly individualized, with space, queues, and distinct activity space. Individualization causes some children to master reading and writing before the age of 6 who follow the methods of writing to read in Montessori. Preschoolers in all-day programs often see typical childcare games that include the Montessori curriculum in the morning and fantasy games in the afternoon.
The preschool education program that reflects the Montessori philosophy states its aims as follows:
-To arouse interest in learning,
-To improve concentration capacity,
-Supporting the child’s inherent self-discipline and independence,
-To allow him to discover the world around him,
-Laying the foundations of learning skills,
-To develop the awareness of respecting others and the environment.
-The basis of Montessori philosophy; It is the thought that the child potentially carries the person he will be in the future. The child needs freedom to reach -their full physical, intellectual and emotional potential. However, this freedom must be one to be attained through order and self-discipline.
According to Montessori, the child is not an empty bowl to be filled by adults. He had the characteristics of “concentration and ability to concentrate for a long time, discipline of will and positive social behavior, enthusiasm for learning and organized thinking, feeling and acting”. These characteristics, according to Montessori, are the characteristics of the mentally healthy new child.