As educators our role is to teach children through curriculum. Through the years many different types of curriculum have been created. Curriculum is defined as the learning programs, activities, school subjects, materials, plans, and topics of study (Arce). The Montessori Method was established over 100 yrs. ago and is still used in some form in today’s class rooms. It is commonly associated with its popular child-size furniture in the classroom, but there is much more to Montessori Method as I will discuss detail later.
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The Montessori Method was created in Rome, Italy by Dr. Montessori in 1907. During this time period in the early 1900’s the common age of children to start attending school was 6 yrs old. This age was determined based on the child’s ability to walk and understand, or “therefore deemed intelligent enough to go to school” (Montessori, The Periods of Growth) . However, in the 1930’s physiologists recognized that children become receptive to adult influences between the ages of 3-6 (Montessori, The Periods of Growth) . Just as it is known today children have a sensitive period for development and during this time it is more beneficial (Montessori, Education For Life) . The Montessori Method changed the focus then from how to teach children to meet the needs of the world, and focus on the child from their birth (Montessori, Education For Life).
Under the Montessori Method the teachers’ task which was to “the first thing to be done, therefore is to discover the true nature of a child and then assist him in his normal development” (Arce). This is achieved through the different areas of learning; Practical
Life, Sensorial, Mathematics, Language and Literacy, Cultural Subjects, and Creative Subjects (ICME ). In most Montessori Schools the children are in vertical age groups 2 ½ years to 6 years, 6 to 9 years, 12 to 15 years, and 15 to 18 years (ICME ). The exercises of practical life teach the children the importance of maintaining a clean environment, cooking and the practical skills of buttoning, sewing, and lacing (ICME ).
Next is the Sensorial, the education of the senses. This is considered to be one of more import lessons and is focused on children with special needs as well as “typical” children. The materials used are didactic materials and give special needs children opportunities to learn through the senses and it provokes auto-education in “typical” children (Montessori, Education of the Senses ). Exercises within this method include children learning to recognize the differences in dimensions by assorting various shapes and sizes of blocks (Montessori, Education of the Senses ). When a child selects the wrong size they are forced to correct it themselves. Once the child has accomplished this exercise with this specific material they then have outgrown it (Montessori, Education of the Senses ).
The third area is Mathematics. The materials children use in mathematics are similar materials to that of which are used in sorting. In mathematics the materials are color coded rods, pegs and virtually anything that can be sorted or counted (Montessori, Teaching of Numeration; Introduction to Arithmetic ).
The fourth area is language and literacy. In the Montessori curriculum the writing is focused on learning to draw lines and shapes that eventually lead to the children writing
(Montessori, Methods for the Teaching of Reading and Writing ) . Another exercise to teach writing skills involves the children tracing the letters through materials. One lesson I found fascinating was created for children to correct themselves by using sandpaper on the outside of the letter (Montessori, Description of the Method and Didactic Material Used ). In teaching children literacy they start with vowels and then constanants to teach letter recognition. The focus is on the sounds they make and pictures of object similar to the phonics system today (Montessori, Methods for the Teaching of Reading and Writing ).
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The fifth area is Cultural subjects. If you notice most Montessori schools are in environments with nature surroundings. Children are able to connect with nature by taking an active role in its care.
The last area is Creative subjects which include arts and craft, drama, music and movement. In art children are encouraged to draw anything that pops into their minds. Looking at other creative materials, children are given the freedom to explore with clay and coloring materials. Music was another way for a child to express themselves. With the Montessori Method the children create their own instruments as well as music (Montessori, Education of the Senses ).
In order for the Montessori Method to be effective in a classroom that encourages self-teaching and the freedom to move around the class and centers freely discipline is required. Self-discipline is taught to children through exercise, these exercises teach children instead of verbally commanding them to be quiet and still. Children learn these different actions by
sitting and getting up quietly, tip toeing and the use of objects quietly, and other exercises (Montessori, General Review of Discipline ).
Montessori curriculum has advantages and disadvantage in comparisons to traditional classrooms. In a Montessori classrooms children are allowed and encouraged to experiment uninterrupted in centers for up to 3 hours opposed to a traditional classroom where the child sits at their seat a majority of the day and the teacher facilitates the lesson or they are only allowed an allotted time in centers. The teachers are to mainly observe the children and let them teach themselves and not force the child to learn. However, the disadvantages of Montessori curriculum are they don’t follow traditional grade scales, but conduct evaluations throughout the school year (ICME ) . Lastly, the name Montessori isn’t legally protected, so schools and the training they provide can vary and may not reflect Montessori Methods (International Montessori Index) . Regardless of the curriculum teachers choose it is still necessary for them adjust the curriculum to the needs of their students.
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