The Montessori Method
The education philosophy at Dubuque Montessori School (DMS) is based upon research and work of Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian born educator and the first woman physician in Italy. Basic to her approach is the idea that children must have the freedom, achieved through order and self-discipline, to develop to their full potential. Therefore, the goals of Montessori education are to:
- Stimulate the child's innate love of learning
- Provide a nurturing, cooperative social learning environment
- Incorporate all the senses in the learning experience
- Consider the whole child
- Encourage respect for self, others, the environment and all life.
With these goals, DMS provides a program in which children can develop self-confidence, acquire basic skills to serve as a base for later learning, and develop a positive attitude towards learning.
The following characteristics of the Montessori education foster the above objectives:
Sometimes referred to as the “whole child” approach, Montessori’s holistic curriculum features activities and materials that promote the development of social skills, emotional growth, and physical coordination, as well as cognitive preparation.
Mixed Age Groupings
The age span in each classroom creates a cooperative learning environment that fosters multi-age friendships and conversations. Older children increase their self-esteem and attain a sense of responsibility for the younger children, while the younger children benefit from modeling older children.
Process over Product
The Montessori classroom is process oriented, not product oriented. Materials and activities are carefully prepared to allow children to follow a complete work cycle, enabling them to develop self-confidence as they master basic developmentally and academic skills.
Development of Discipline and Independence
Children are encouraged to work independently, becoming self-directed learners. Large blocks of uninterrupted time allow children to explore their environment, while making decisions and managing their time well. This fosters self-confidence, self-discipline, and independence later in life.
Respect for all Children
There is a great deal of socialization in our classrooms, through which the children learn to be aware of others feelings, how to help each other, how to cooperate, and how to care for things in the environment for the benefit of all.
Spontaneous Activity in the Educational Process
Since each child is at a different point developmentally, the children are given the freedom to learn at their own pace and in their own style.
Dubuque Montessori School, Inc. (further referred to as DMS) was founded on the principals of Dr. Maria Montessori, physician and educator. She advocated the theory that children develop according to natural law and that they have special periods of sensitivity to aid them in the development of life. She urged that these sensitive periods be utilized to the fullest by giving the children the opportunity to develop their capabilities within a carefully prepared environment. She warned that no amount of good teaching would help the child if given at the wrong time. Every sensitive period of development prepares them for the next and if children are properly prepared in one period, they are more able to fully develop their capabilities in later periods. This understanding of the child's development is the basis for the design of the Montessori materials, which are educational materials designed to provide the child with hands-on experiences with practical activities and cultural and academic concepts. Through generous contributions and continued fundraising efforts, Dubuque Montessori is very fortunate to have state-of-the-art Montessori materials in each of its classrooms. Fundamental to all of Dr. Montessori's ideas is respect for the child and for their ability to learn. Montessori was unique in her view of the child as more than merely a yet-to-be grown adult. She taught us that . . .
"We ought not to consider the child and the adult merely as successive phases in the individuals life. We ought rather to look upon them as two different forms of human life, going on at the same time and exerting upon one another a reciprocal influence."
Just as the child is dependent upon the adult for protection and care, Montessori saw the adult as being dependent upon the child for hope for the future.
"Humanity can hope for a solution to it's problems, the most urgent of which are those of peace and unity, only by turning its attention and energies to the discovery of the child and the development of the great potentiality of the human personality in the course of its construction."
Dr. Montessori called her schools 'houses for children.' They are places designed with respect for the child. Their design is specific to the social and developmental needs of the child. The adults who build them must have a careful eye to "see through the child's eyes" and in the process of doing so appeal to the child's sense of order and beauty and to his physical capabilities. She saw education as a natural process, which develops spontaneously in the prepared environment. Dr. Montessori described her method as "an aid to life."
At Dubuque Montessori School, we are committed to the practical application of these ideas by providing an educational environment for the pre-school child. We are a community of families dedicated to the discovery of the child.
The child is free to move about the classroom at will, to talk to other children, to work with any equipment whose purpose he understand, or to ask the Directress to introduce new material to him. He is not free to disturb other children at work or to abuse the equipment that is so important to his development.
A Montessori classroom is a prepared environment divided into the following areas:
The Practical Life area has two types of activities: those that teach the children to care for themselves and activities that teach the child to care for the environment. The direct aim of these activities is to teach the child order, concentration, coordination, and independence.
The Sensorial area contains materials which help the child to develop discrimination and classification skills. These materials assist the natural process of the child's mind to receive impressions of the environment through the senses.
The Mathematics area introduces the child to quantity, then the symbols 1-10. The next step is teens and tens. By using beads and number cards the child learns the basis for the decimal system. It is a gradual process of working with many materials in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division that will lead to total abstraction.
The Language area is composed of specially designed materials which assist the child in his natural development of writing and reading skills. They are broken down into components and distributed according to the natural powers of the child.The Science area is closely related to all other areas in the classroom. Hands-on experiments will allow the children to observe and draw their own conclusions. The children will also delve into the study of animals: their habitats and their classifications, such as non-living, living, plants or animals, vertebrates or invertebrates.
The Geography area begins with the study of the globe with its land and water masses, continents, countries and cultures. Materials include the globe with color coded continents, maps, and clay models of land and water forms. Cultures are studied through pictures, foods, music, and artifacts.
The History area provides a concrete presentation of the past and is accomplished through work with time lines relating to the child's own day and life as well as famous holidays or individuals, non-human and human time periods.