Montessori is an approach to education that was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and educator who lived from 1870 to 1952. It is based on giving children independence and freedom within limits and having respect for their natural psychological development. The following are the essential elements of Montessori:
- Mixed-age classrooms
- Allowing students to choose their activities from a range of prescribed options
- Uninterrupted blocks of class time
- A discovery model where children learn through interaction with apparati rather than through instruction
- Use of specialized Montessori educational materials called apparati
More information about the Montessori method can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montessori_education.
Dr. Maria Montessori
Dr. Maria Montessori was ahead of her time when it came to studying and understanding how children learn best. Dr. Montessori quickly realized that children have a natural desire to learn and that if they are put in the right environment with the appropriate level of challenge, their learning will ultimately flourish. Dr. Montessori also discovered that when children learn through their five senses they will be more likely to retain what they learn and will have a greater understanding of what they are learning. This helps children form a secure foundation for the academic challenges that they will face later in life.
"Scientific observation has established that education is not what the teacher gives; education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences upon the environment.” – Dr. Maria Montessori
Her emphasis on environment played a major role in the development of the Montessori method, which maintains that children gain a great deal from being in an environment well suited to their needs. This is why classrooms and work areas are always designed to optimize children's learning, and workstations and Montessori apparati are part of the learning process. Keeping this in mind, and taking it a step further, classes at W.I.M.A. are designed in a contemporary setting, with present-day technology.