Dr. Urban H. Fleece
Professor of Child Psychology, DePaul University
The central purpose of Montessori pre-school is to help each child develop a positive self-image. Through a carefully planned environment, he is led to develop the necessary insights, appreciation and skills for a lifetime of creative learning.
The basic idea of the Montessori approach to education is that every child carries unseen within him the potentialities of the man he will soon become.
The world of the child is full of sights and sounds which at first appear chaotic. From this chaos, the child must gradually create order; he slowly gains mastery of himself and of his environment. Dr. Montessori developed the “prepared environment” which possess a certain order and disposes the child to develop his capabilities at his own speed, according to his own capacities in a non-competitive atmosphere.
A child most easily learns the ground rules of human behaviour between two and six years of age. These years can be constructively devoted to “civilizing” the child — freeing him through the acquisition of good manners and habits to take his place in his culture.
The child who has had the benefit of a Montessori environment is better prepared at a later age to devote himself to the development of his intellectual potentialities. Since the child has learned to work by himself in the prepared environment (enjoying the presence of other children) the Montessori teacher is able to teach a child individually. Thus fostering within him competence and self-confidence as an independent learner.
The structure of the Montessori learning involves the use of specialised imported leaning materials isolates specific skills, which are taught on a one to one basis according to the childrens individual needs and skills. The teaching materials are designed to test the childrens understanding and to correct errors. (Every piece of learning apparatus has a built-in control of error). Programmed learning and teaching machines are now using this principle.
Dr. Montessori recognised that the only valid impulse to learning is the self-motivation of the child. Children move themselves towards learning. The teacher prepares the environment, and serves as a facilitator of learning. As a Catalyst, she offers the child stimulation and guidance. But it is the child who learns; it is the child who is motivated through the work itself to persist in a given task.
This is the core of Dr. Montessori’s educational philosophy. Patterns of concentration stick-to-it-iveness, and thoroughness established in early childhood, produce a self-confident, competent learner in later years. The experience of frequent success provided by Montessori Pre- Schools have shown that children acquire a positive self-image and a sense of independence — a prerequisite for later success both in school and in life.
Montessori introduces children to the joy of learning at an early age provides a framework in which the intellectual and social disciplines go hand in hand. In brief, the Montessori approach is designed to help the child build within himself the foundations for a lifetime of creative learning.