"A child's work," Dr. Maria Montessori wrote, "is to create the man he will become. An adult works to perfect the environment, but a child works to perfect himself." So Dr. Montessori (1870-1952), engineer, physician, and educator, developed an approach to education that would aid the child in his/her work.
The first Casa dei Bambini (Children's House) opened in Rome on January 6, 1907. Since then, the Montessori method, based on careful observation of and respect for the natural development of the child, has spread worldwide with Children's Houses on every continent but Antarctica. The Montessori approach recognizes that a child is more responsive to certain learning experiences at particular times or "sensitive periods." Careful observation allows the Montessori-trained teacher to recognize these sensitive periods when a child is ready for a new learning experience. The teacher then can direct the child toward materials that will satisfy his/her developmental needs.
Dr. Montessori believed that competition should be introduced only after the child had gained confidence in the use of basic skills. "Never let a child risk failure," she wrote, "unless he has a reasonable chance of success."
"It is true, we cannot make a genius," Dr. Montessori said. "We can only give each individual the chance to fulfill his potential to become an independant, secure and balanced human being." That is the purpose of sunset Hills Montessori School.
In a Montessori classroom the teacher's most important work is done before the child enters the room. The most important work of the teacher is preparing the environment for the child to be able to develop order, control, concentration, and independance. How is this accomplished?
The child establishes order in his/her mind and his/her learning habits when there is a specific time, location, and meaning to everything in his/her environment. Dr. Montessori wrote, "...if we showed them exactly how to do something, the precision itself seemed to hold their interest. To have a real purpose to which the action was directed, this was the first condition, but the exact way of doing it acted like a support which rendered the child stable in his efforts, and therefore brought him to make progress in his development. Order and precision, we found, were the keys to spontaneous work in the school." (Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind.)