Maria Montessori was born in Italy in 1870. She was the first woman in Italy to receive her degree of Doctor of Medicine. She interned at the Psychiatric Clinic at the University of Rome and her work with the mentally deficient led to her future ideas.
The Montessori method develops the wholeness of the child. There must be freedom within the prepared environment to develop the child’s physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual growth. The environment of the classroom is prepared by the teacher and is geared toward movement because it is movement that starts the intellect working. The materials in the classroom are well made, well maintained and neatly arranged on the shelves.
Everything in the classroom has a specific use and there is nothing in the room that the child cannot see and touch, for this is how we learn. There is order in the classroom, for each step is a preparation for a step that follows. A control of error is built into the materials which allows the children to discover their own mistakes and correct them.
The classroom is divided into four general areas – Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, and Math. All of these areas are prepared with concrete materials. The classroom also has Geography and Natural Science area that encourages observation of life. Music and Art are integrated into the daily activities.
Creating the environment is the job of the Montessori teacher. It needs to be a place where the children can discover their needs with activities and grow naturally. Because of this, the teacher is always adding to the classroom for the enhancement of the children.
Children can be as happy when they are learning as when they are playing. An authoritarian type of discipline is harmful to development but to abandon discipline is not the alternative. It is possible to achieve a self-discipline and this has been spontaneously demonstrated by children themselves; therefore, we use a natural and logical consequence approach to discipline in the class.