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Montessori Philosophy

Who was Maria Montessori?

Dr. Maria Montessori was the creator of the Montessori method education. As a physician, she became involved in education and worked with children who had intellectual or developmental disabilities. She observed how they absorbed knowledge from their surroundings; essentially teaching themselves.

Mixed aged classes are one of the key points in the Montessori education. The children remain in the same class for 2 or 3 years moving from being the youngest to being the oldest. Older students will take on responsibilities and act like a teacher showing younger or newer students on how to do things while reinforcing their own learning. They will become role models and in return their confidence will grow with every child they were able to help. Younger students are often motivated by observing the older children work. They will learn from those observations and will be eager to try things out themselves. Another benefit is that there is no grade level stigma. Children can progress at their own pace, follow individual interests or challenge themselves if they have more advanced skills without waiting to advance to the next grade. 

Prepared Environment and Material
Another key element is the prepared environment. In order for self-directed learning to take place, the whole learning environment has to be set up to motivate and give opportunities for the child to engage in work. Every material teaches a single skill or concept, can be worked with repeatedly, and has a control of error or is self-correcting so that child can asses his own progress.
Learning and developing a new skill takes time and practice. All materials can be used in different ways or combined with other materials to create new challenges for different levels. 

Montessori lessons base themselves on the procedure of each set of material. Observation plays a big part of this learning environment. A teacher might give a lesson to a child individually or in a small group, but often younger children are watching their older peers becoming motivated to mime the way they are handling the materials or following the system of trial and error.
Lessons are set up help children develop work habits, organization skills, and general thinking strategies, but it never teaches children the answers. That would take away the chance to make their own exciting discoveries.

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