The Montessori Method in Action (page 2)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Montessori and Contemporary Practices

The Montessori approach supports many methods used in contemporary early childhood programs:

  • Integrated curriculum.
  • Active learning.
  • Individualized instruction.
  • Independence.
  • Appropriate assessment.
  • Developmentally appropriate practice.

Providing for Diversity and Disability

Montessori education is ideally suited to meet the needs of children from diverse backgrounds, those with disabilities, and those with other special needs such as giftedness. Montessori believed that all children are intrinsically motivated to learn and that they absorb knowledge when they are provided appropriate environments at appropriate times of development. Thus Montessorians believe in providing for individual differences in enriching environments.

The Circle of Inclusion Project at the University of Kansas identifies ten specific aspects of Montessori education that have direct applicability to the education of children with disabilities:

  • The use of mixed-age groups.
  • Individualization within the context of a supportive classroom community.
  • An emphasis on functionality within the Montessori environment.
  • The development of independence and the ability to make choices.
  • The development of organized work patterns in children.
  • The classic Montessori demonstration.
  • An emphasis on repetition.
  • Materials with a built-in control of error.
  • Academic materials that provide a concrete representation of the abstract.
  • Sensory materials that develop and organize incoming sensory perceptions.

Further Thoughts

In many respects, Maria Montessori was a person for all generations who contributed greatly to early childhood programs and practices. Many of her ideas—such as preparing the environment, providing child-size furniture, promoting active learning and independence, and using multiage grouping—have been fully incorporated into early childhood classrooms. As a result, it is easy to take her contributions for granted. We do many things in a Montessorian way without thinking too much about it.

What is important is that early childhood professionals adopt the best of Montessori for children of the twenty-first century. As with any practice, professionals must adopt approaches to fit the children they are teaching while remaining true to what is best in that approach. Respect for children is never out of date and should be accorded to all children regardless of culture, gender, or socioeconomic background.

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