The Montessori teaching method is based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play. Maria Montessori, the creator of this method which takes her name, wrote many books on the subject to teach parents about the importance of independent and hands-on learning rather than learning from books and texts.
Maria Montessori was a teacher and doctor working with disabled children. However, instead of applying the old teaching methods, she would observe the way children learned by themselves when they didn’t have to do what the teacher told them to do. These methods proved very effective with disabled children so she decided to open a school for every child called “Children’s home”.
This new school had children-sized furniture; small chairs, small tables, low shelves and so on, to enable children to reach objects without having to ask an adult. Maria Montessori invented toys for children to learn and discover the world in a practical and independent way.
During their first years of primary school, in lessons children would learn how to tie their shoes, carry a pitcher without spilling it, and set up the table for lunch. The way in which this learning would execute in the classroom is by letting the children choose what they wanted to do, in fact, if a person came into the classroom during a lesson, they might see a child learning how to tie their shoes and the one next to him learning how to set the table. Maria Montessori considered these methods of teaching important because often children would be able to do double-digit divisions correctly but wouldn’t be able to tie their own shoes.
A famous quote by her is “Never help a child who is performing a task in which he thinks he can succeed”. Maria Montessori also invented different methods to teach children how to read and write; for example, in her classroom, there would be wooden tablets with textured letters written on them for kids to run their fingers on and learn the movements needed to write that specific letter. There would also be a mat designed like lined paper for kids to place wooden letters on in order, to write a word or a sentence.
The role of the teacher in the school would be to help the children when asked to, check in on their work from time to time, and show children how to use a specific toy if needed.
Once the children got older, around grades 3 to 5, they could have at their disposal boxes with marbles to place into different containers in order to learn how to do double-digit divisions and they would be taught by the teacher how to make a timeline with words and images so that they could learn the order of important historical events.
In 1952, when Maria Montessori died, her teaching methods continued to be used in various schools around the world, not only in Italy, to help children learn the importance and advantages of self-sufficiency.
Article by Luisa, Grade 10
Favilli, Elena, et al. Storie Della Buonanotte per Bambine Ribelli: 100 Vite Di Donne Straordinarie. Milano, Mondadori, 2017.
“What Is Montessori Education?” Montessori-nw.org, montessori-nw.org/about-montessori-education. Accessed 18 Sept. 2022.