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what it is, characteristics and how to apply it in education

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By Vanessa Fenelon

On 06.04.21

Have you ever heard about the Montessori method? Its adherents question traditional education and believe in child autonomy for a more stimulating and meaningful learning. For this, many educators have been rethinking their practices and betting on teaching that allows for the spontaneous development of children. Check out how the method works, its main characteristics and experiences of mothers and professionals.

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What is Montessori method?

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The method was developed by the Italian educator, pedagogue and physician Maria Montessori. In Montessori pedagogy, the objective is to harmonize body, intelligence and will so that the child has a playful, free and spontaneous development, which respects their abilities and needs. In addition, the Montessori method is based on educating for life, so everything that the child learns must have practical application in the situations he/she will experience.

History of the Montessori method

Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was a woman well ahead of her time. In addition to graduating in Medicine at a time when women were not admitted to the career, she revolutionized the concept of children and, as a result, also traditional education.

After graduating, the Italian began working with children with disabilities at the university’s psychiatric clinic. Based on the results of her observations and scientific research, the doctor developed the Montessori method. In 1907, she created the first “Casa dei Bambini” (“Children’s House”), where she applied her educational methods also to children without disabilities.

The term “disabled child” is the most appropriate, according to the PWD community (people with disabilities), as it does not reduce the individual to their disability, while not placing them in a “special” position, “warrior” , and enabling terms that romanticize their disability.

Characteristics of the Montessori method

The pedagogy proposed by Maria Montessori seeks to free the child’s true nature, through autonomy and the appreciation of his individuality. Check out the main features of this method below:

child centered teaching

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In the Montessori method, the child is seen as the center of education. Thus, the teacher acts as a guide who advises and accompanies learning, but has a passive role. The student is the main agent in the process.

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Autonomy and freedom

As the method is based on self-education, the child is free to choose the activities to be carried out and what to learn. Thus, the natural development of their physical, social and psychological skills is respected, in addition to encouraging their independence.

Focus on active learning

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The main objective is the normal development of the child, as opposed to the transmission of knowledge observed in traditional teaching methods. For this, the environment, furniture and objects must be adapted to the child’s needs. Thus, she can handle them and move around with minimal help from adults.

Groups with children of different ages

In Montessori pedagogy, classes have students of different ages. This results in a richer and more diverse interaction. Children can exchange their knowledge and are encouraged to help and teach each other.

Organized space & playful environment

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The organized space allows the child to move freely. Attractive and practical objects pique your interest. Thus, she can develop at her own time and pace, practicing the exercise of her choice and creating the desire for independence – which will be necessary in adult life.

learning as a reward

As children are free to choose what they will learn, how much time they will dedicate to the activity and where they will work, learning becomes more attractive and rewarding. Through their personal experiences and discoveries, little ones express their abilities, develop in a natural way and have a rewarding learning experience.

Multisensory materials

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The Montessori method promotes the education of the senses, which must come before more complex intellectual activities. Thus, the child develops not only cognitively, but also physically. In addition, the multisensory materials allow her to concretely explore the theories and concepts she learns.

The combination of these characteristics in the education of children stimulates their development in a natural way, in addition to contributing to the construction of a sense of responsibility and independence. In the next topic, see more details on how Montessori pedagogy is applied in the school context.

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How the Montessori method works

The Montessori method is based on the idea that childhood is a very important period in people’s lives, as it offers great possibilities for learning. See how the application of this pedagogy works in schools and how the method understands the different stages of children’s development:

the Montessori school

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Schools adept at Montessori pedagogy usually follow the principles of self-education, cosmic education, education as science, a prepared environment, a prepared adult and a balanced child. In practice, this means giving the student an active role in their own learning, as they learn at their own pace and interests. Thus, self-knowledge and self-discipline are also encouraged.

In addition, Montessori schools work with apprenticeships, classes with students of different ages and multidisciplinary curricula. Student assessment is also done differently from the traditional one. Instead of tests, students are assessed in every activity they undertake, and their intellectual, social and emotional development is considered.

Below, see how the Montessori method comprises the different periods of the child’s development process, according to a study by Edimara de Lima:

First Stage of Development (0 to 6 years)

In this phase, the child absorbs the environment and the world around him, to develop and adapt to society. From 0 to 3 years old, this is done unconsciously. From 3 to 6 years old, the process is conscious, that is, there is intentionality and the child’s actions are the result of their thinking.

Second Stage of Development (6 to 12 years)

This period is characterized by stability. In it, the child continues to grow and develop, at a slower pace and without major changes in his conscious mind and psychological characteristics.

Third Stage of Development (12 to 18 years old)

At this stage, the child goes through puberty (from 12 to 15 years old), which brings many physical and cognitive changes. This phase is also marked by adolescence (from 15 to 18 years old), when she becomes aware of herself as an individual and part of a social group. This group even comes to have a great influence on their values.

The theory behind the Montessori method is very broad, complex and rich. Starting from it, it is possible to achieve a more inclusive, humane and conscious education.

More information and tips for applying the Montessori method

Now that you know how Montessori pedagogy works, how about checking out the experiences of mothers and professionals with the method? The videos below provide great tips for applying this theory – whether at school, with your students, or at home, with your kids. Follow:

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6 pillars of Montessori pedagogy

In this video, you can find out more about the theory behind the Montessori method. Marina comments on how the practices and activities of the school where her daughter attends are based on the 6 pillars already mentioned – self-education, cosmic education, education as science, prepared environment, prepared adult and balanced child.

Prepared environment: how to put this idea into practice

Here, the architect Lara Thys brings tips to implement one of the pillars of the Montessori method at home: the prepared environment. See how to make the space attractive and accessible for children in the different rooms of the house, including the little ones in activities and encouraging their independence.

10 tips to encourage children’s independence

In this video, Flavia Calina, who is a mother and former teacher of Kindergarten, gives tips to encourage the independence of the little ones. These are simple ideas and attitudes that can be taken on a daily basis, but that make a difference and help in the development of more responsible and confident children.

Affective education and the Montessori method

Do you know what affective education is? Here, the psychopedagogue Isa Minatel explains about the concept, which goes far beyond showing affection and affection. Watch to understand how to apply it in practice to favor the development of children!

3 activities inspired by the Montessori method

Finally, see activities inspired by Montessori pedagogy to stimulate motor coordination and correspondence in the little ones. Ideas are for 1 and 4 year olds. Check out the explanation and application of the exercises in the video!

With all these tips and information, it is possible to create an environment that is ideal for the development of little ones. For that, how about seeing Montessori bed ideas? The models are beautiful and help to encourage your child’s independence from an early age!

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