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Principles of the Montessori Method At Little House Montessori Preschool

The Montessori Method has been and is very popular around the world with early childhood professionals and parents. The Montessori approach is designed to support the natural development of children in a well-prepared environment. Five basic principles fairly and accurately represent how Little House Montessori Preschool educators implement the Montessori Method in our prepared environment. These principles include:

Respect the Child

Respect for the child is the cornerstone on which all other Montessori principles rest.

Teachers show respect for children

when they help them do things and

learn for themselves. When children

have choices, they are able to develop

the skills and abilities necessary for

effective learning autonomy, and

positive self-esteem.

As Maria Montessori said, As a rule, however, we do not respect children. We try to force them to follow us without regard to their special needs. We are overbearing with them, and above all, rude; and then we expect them to be submissive and well-behaved, knowing all the time how strong is their instinct of imitation and how touching their faith in and admiration of us. They will imitate us in any case. Let us treat them, therefore, with all the kindness which we would wish to help to develop in them (Montessori, 1965).

The Absorbent Mind

At Little House Montessori , we believed that children educate themselves: “It may be said that we acquire knowledge by using our minds; but the child absorbs knowledge directly into his psychic life. Simply by continuing to live, the child learns to speak his native tongue" (Montessori, 1966). This is the concept of the absorbent mind.

Montessori wanted us to understand that children can’t help learning. Simply by living, children learn from their environment. Children are born to learn, and they are remarkable learning systems. Children learn because they are thinking beings. But what they learn depends greatly on their teachers, experiences, and environments. Early childhood teachers are reemphasizing the idea that children are born learning and with constant readiness and ability to learn.

Sensitive Periods

Montessori believed there are sensitive periods when children are more susceptible to certain behaviours and can learn specific skills more easily: A sensitive period refers to a special sensibility which a creature acquires in its infantile state, while it is still in a process of evolution. It is a transient disposition and limited to the acquisition of a particular trait. Once this trait or characteristic has been acquired, the special sensibility disappears....(Montessori, 1966).

Although all children experience the same sensitive periods (e.g., a sensitive period for writing), the sequence and timing vary for each child. One role of the teacher is to use observation to detect times of sensitivity and provide the setting for optimum fulfilment.