DPS Play School

Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori was, in many ways, ahead of her time. Born in the town of Chiaravalle, in the province of Ancona, Italy, on August 31, 1870, she became one of the first female physicians in Italy upon her graduation from medical school in 1896. Shortly afterwards, she was chosen to represent Italy at two different women's conferences, in Berlin in 1896 and in London in 1900.

In her medical practice, her clinical observations led her to analyze how children learn, and she concluded that they build themselves from what they find in their environment. Shifting her focus from the body to the mind, she returned to the university in 1901, this time to study psychology and philosophy. In 1904, she was made a professor of anthropology at the University of Rome.

Her desire to help children was so strong, however, that in 1906 she gave up both her university chair and her medical practice to work with a group of sixty young children of working parents in the San Lorenzo district of Rome. It was there that she founded, on January 6, 1907, the first Casa dei Bambini, or "Children's House." What ultimately became the Montessori method of education developed there, based upon Montessori's scientific observations of these children's almost effortless ability to absorb knowledge from their surroundings, as well as their tireless interest in manipulating materials. Every piece of equipment, every exercise, every method Montessori developed was based on what she observed children to do "naturally," by themselves, unassisted by adults.

Children teach themselves. This simple but profound truth inspired Montessori's lifelong pursuit of educational reform, methodology, psychology, teaching, and teacher training--all based on her dedication to furthering the self-creating process of the child.

Maria Montessori made her first visit to the United States in 1913, the same year that Alexander Graham Bell and his wife Mabel founded the Montessori Educational Association at their Washington, DC, home. Among her other strong American supporters were Thomas Edison and Helen Keller.

In 1915, she attracted world attention with her "glass house" schoolroom exhibit at the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition in San Francisco. On this second U.S. visit, she also conducted a teacher training course and addressed the annual conventions of both the National Education Association and the International Kindergarten Union. The committee that brought her to San Francisco included Margaret Wilson, the daughter of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson.

The Spanish government invited her to open a research institute in 1917. In 1919, she began a series of teacher training courses in London. In 1922, she was appointed a government inspector of schools in her native Italy, but because of her opposition to Mussolini's fascism, she was forced to leave Italy in 1934. She traveled to Barcelona, Spain, and was rescued there by a British cruiser in 1936, during the Spanish Civil War. She opened the Montessori Training Centre in Laren, Netherlands, in 1938, and founded a series of teacher training courses in India in 1939.

In 1940, when India entered World War II, she and her son, Mario Montessori, were interned as enemy aliens, but she was still permitted to conduct training courses. Later, she founded the Montessori Center in London (1947). She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times--in 1949, 1950, and 1951.

Maria Montessori died in Noordwijk, Holland, on May 6, 1952.
Biography Courtesy of the American Montessori Society (AMS)


The Montessori Philosophy

Maria Montessori's years of research revealed that the first six years of a child's quest for knowledge are characterized not by ordinary curiosity, but by an acute need to learn and to explore. She observed that at specific periods in a child's life, which she called "sensitive periods" that need becomes particularly intense for specific types of learning. Further, she discovered that, while all children initially exhibit a natural joy and love in discovery and work, the amazing powers of their absorbent mind will just as easily absorb frustration, distaste and apathy if their first attempts to explore are consistently met with obstacles.

Montessori's research culminated in a vision of a series of special environments that would preserve that joyful regard for learning, by supporting and fulfilling at each stage of a child's development his specific needs and tendencies. By scaling the environment to his size and carefully selecting the objects which would be placed in it, she eliminated the need to "protect" and instead encouraged the child in his exploration. In her vision, a school was not a building with four walls in which to enclose and confine a child, but a home wherein a child could be his own master, a world which would affirm his need to experiment, create and grow.

The child's surroundings and the adult who acts as a guide to them, play roles of utmost importance. They must not be chosen arbitrarily. Everything from the positioning of pictures on the wall to the selection of a tray for a pouring exercise has been carefully structured to aid the child's quest toward self-realization, according to his specific needs and tendencies at various stages of his development. Specially prepared and loving individuals must be sought to guide the child on his journey. Therefore it is helpful to understand Montessori's research, the importance of the prepared environment, the role of the adult in that environment, and the development which occurs during the first six years of life. At Cathedral House we will try to be your guide.

The Montessori Teacher

Montessori emphasized that it was not enough to create a perfect environment for a child. There must be a living entity to direct that environment, a trained adult who would ensure that the environment keeps pace with the constantly changing needs of the growing child. That adult would not be a figure who imposed knowledge upon a child, but rather a servant and guide to the child's natural quest for discovery and information. The teacher in a Montessori environment must be an extraordinary individual for whom life represents growing and not just existing.

The Montessori teacher works in combination with the environment to fulfill the needs of the child. It is the child, and not the teacher, who is the active agent in the environment. The objects found in the classroom, therefore, do not serve as aids to the teacher in "teaching" but, instead, as aids to the child in his "discovery" of knowledge. It is essential that the child make his choices directed by inner needs, tendencies and special interests, and be primarily motivated by the object, and not the teacher.

What is the function of the teacher, if not to be the active teaching agent of the child? Her jobs are many and of great importance. Her main function is one of observer. She serves the child best by watching and responding to his needs of the moment; by remaining calm, patient, open-minded, charitable, loving and humble; and by sublimating her desire to "do" for the child what he is capable of doing for himself.

The teacher functions as a link between the materials in the environment and the child. Her delicate role as a guide to the environment requires that she have a good working knowledge of the materials and their function in the child's development. She acts as a director, helping the child to make suitable choices and, then, presenting the materials so that he not only understands them, but is excited by them.

And lastly, but most importantly, she must not hold back the minds of children that are more developed by presenting lessons too late, or discourage those who are not prepared for any given piece of work by presenting a lesson too early.

Montessori Guidelines

A Montessori community is a society of children which, like all societies, functions best when clear, yet fair guidelines for acceptable behavior are established. As with adults, boundaries provide the child with the structured support system which is essential to healthy growth.

However, in setting guidelines, it is a mistake to think that a child's will needs to be broken before he can obey. Freedom and discipline can coexist. Nature offers interior guidance for the development of a total social consciousness and self-discipline comes with age. In the very young child, these can only evolve in an environment which provides the right mixture of freedom and order. Will and obedience go hand in hand, as do freedom and responsibility, but they are born of guidance. We provide the child the setting to stimulate his own development of the intricate and subtle art of initiating and responding to social interaction. Love and guidance are the two most important jobs of the parent and of the educator. Over leniency is mistaken often for love and leaves a child with nothing to go by. It places on the child burdens he is unable to carry when deprived of a framework of standards for his behavior.

True inner discipline in the child comes not only from adult love and guidance, but from adult respect for the child and his needs. The adult too has a responsibility toward this society of children. He must also follow a set of standards developed to best aid the child in his quest for self-control. These standards must extend into all aspects of the child's life, including the home.

We ask that you take this opportunity to acquaint yourself with the following guidelines, which are designed to support the participation of the child, the observer and the parent, both in the Montessori community and in the home. When reading each guideline, please stop and consider the needs of the child. Remember, we are giants in the natural environment of the child, whose voices thunder, and whose towering bodies impose upon his world.

The Guidelines

The Bell
A respectful way of addressing a group in giving information, directions and gaining a quiet atmosphere.

Carrying Work
Demonstrates the proper technique for choosing work, carrying work and returning work to proper area. This includes all materials, equipment or materials that are used.

Pushing in Chairs
To ensure the safety and care of the environment, children learn to carefully sit in chairs and push them in when not in use. We learn that other furniture has proper use and to use it properly. (tables, rugs, sinks, shelves)

Acknowledge PersonalSpace and Belongings
Increases awareness of other’s feelings and respect for each other’s space, work and belongings.

Getting the Attention of Others
Respectfully we walk towards someone when we need to speak to them, we wait to make sure we are not interrupting and gently tap to extend our request to speak with them.

Sitting on line
Demonstrates skills for group lessons, participating in group presentation, dismissing for activities, listening to others, requesting information and enjoying others.

Restoring Work Preparing work and environment for others. As work or task is finished, getting it ready so others will have the same opportunity.


"Childhood constructs with what it finds. If the material is poor, the construction is also poor. In order to build himself, the child has taken by chance whatever he finds in the environment."

Maria Montessori
A human being will absorb totally the things within his environment. Like the foods which help form the physical being, the elements in an environment constitute the diet which helps form the emotional, soiritucl and intellectual being. The prepared environment, then, is extremely important to the child, for life is constructed through his interaction with his surroundings. In shaping the environment, we shape the child.

There is a great difference, however, in the way an adult and a child use their environment. The adult interacts with his environment in order to produce something, whereas the child interacts with his environment in order to develop. As an adult, material things are an aim for which to work. But for the child, who is not productoriented, external things are useful only as long as they further his quest for knowledge; then he puts them aside.

If the environment and the objects within it are instruments in a chiZd's development, what then should be characteristic of a prepared environment, if it is to support the developmental needs of the child?

The environment should be natural. The civilized environment of the adult is not natural to the child. One thing a child constantly has to overcome in an adult-prepared community is the adult-sized "everything." A prepared environment should be scaled to his size.

Because children are sensorial beings, the environment should be aesthetically pleasing. Beauty is an invitation to a child. He will learn to accept things that are broken or dirty if they are a part of his environment; however, he would prefer to be surrounded by beautiful things. The prepared environment should be beautiful, so he may develop a respect for, and a love of, beauty and order.

The prepared environment should speck to the basic human need to be social and to be a part of a community. It must help the child to develop a sense of responsibility toward the other children in his environment.

Finally, the prepared environment must be designed to satisfy the child's specific needs and tendencies for exploration, orientation, order, abstraction, exactness, repetition, perfection, work, communication and selfcontrol.

Too often in our adult-sized world we overlook the child. In establishing a prepared environment for him, we must begin by taking the child into consideration. If he is to realize his full potential, we must create for him a world which considers his specific needs and supports his develop

Delhi Public School Play School, Srinagar Colony.
Behind State Bank of India (Srinagar colony Branch),
Opposite Anupama Nursing Home,
Srinagar colony, Hyderabad.
Phone: +91-40-65877794/95
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