Guiding principles of the Montessori Community
The first 6 years of life of the child is a crucial time for self-construction as a person of his time and place, a time to build 2 basic trusts: trust in self and trust in the environment.
Maria Montessori referred to the child in the first 3 years of life as a psychic embryo – just as physical body parts get formed in his mother’s womb, the child has to create himself psychologically going through the process of humanization. The child brings with him all the potentialities for movement, language etc., but they can be realized only if the environment offers right stimuli for every stage of development.
All human beings regardless of their race, religion, social status are born with universal human tendencies – natural inclinations which help us to adapt and transform the environment: exploration, orientation, order, communication, manipulation, self-perfection, abstraction and imagination, group life and spiritual needs (art, music, dance, religion). In the Montessori environment these tendencies are satisfied through specially prepared environment.
The children at this age have a special type of mind, to which Maria Montessori referred to as the unconscious absorbent mind. By this she meant that children have an ability to absorb knowledge without effort and the capability to teach themselves.
The human brain has a remarkable capacity to adapt and change, but the timing is crucial. While learning continues throughout the whole life cycle, there are optimal periods, which Montessori called “sensitive periods”. During these sensitive periods the child can learn rapidly if the opportunity is provided. After the period has passed, he may find it difficult to absorb skills and information.
Sensitive periods for children 1-6 years:
- Sensorial exploration
- Assimilation of images
- Interest to small objects
- Social behavior
Montessori Infant classroom is a beautiful, peaceful, happy place designed to meet the developmental needs of the child in each stage of life. They contain many places for children to learn and play, in many different ways: by themselves, in pairs, in small groups, in large groups, inside, outside, at tables, on the floor. All items in the environment are scaled to the child’s size, including furniture, shelves, utensils, dishware, cleaning implements and the Montessori materials themselves.
Bright and attractive colors, natural materials, fascinating cultural objects and interesting pictures on the walls offer the children complex sensory and intellectual experiences. When children first enter a Montessori environment, there is an immediate and touching moment when they realize that this place is for them.
Children move freely throughout the environment, choosing activities that interest them, or working with the teacher, individually, or in small groups. Their movement is unrestricted by the teacher unless it endangers themselves, other people, or their surroundings.
From the moment of birth onwards, humans strive towards independence. Children feel this need very strongly - they want to do things for themselves and to participate in the world around them. In Montessori classrooms, this natural drive towards independence is fostered through practical, social and intellectual experiences. The child becomes an active agent in her own education, saying, “Help me to do it myself”. We honor this by helping children move to increasingly higher levels of independence and self-reliance.
A Montessori-trained adult
The trained Montessori teacher has a faith in a huge potential of each child. The teacher’s role is to link the child to activities and experiences in the prepared environment. Specialized training results in a deep knowledge of child development, the purposes and use of each activity, and an understanding of how to foster and maintain social harmony in the classroom.