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Who is Maria Montessori

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1. Who is Maria Montessori? Please give a brief description of her life. Maria Montessori was the founder of the Montessori approach to education, she was born in Italy in 1870. As a teenager she was an engineer, but later she studied her favor major of medicine. Graduated as Italy’s first female medical practitioner she embarked on a career in mental health. Following on from this she was asked to head up a childcare project for a social housing initiative and her first ‘Children’s House’ opened in 1907. Here too she introduced the equipment she had designed and observed the children very closely as they used it, tailoring what she provided in the environment to meet their developmental needs. There was great astonishment at the amount of learning that these pre-school children showed themselves to be capable of, not least their explosion into ‘writing’.

From this time onward education became her life and she continued to develop educational theories to fit what she observed among the children in her care. She died in Holland in 1952. leaving an international legacy of Montessori schools and training centres around the world.

2. Discuss the Montessori philosophy elaborating on the three main components: the child, the prepared environment, the directress. Comment on the importance of freedom of choice. In Montessori, children,teacher and environment are three very important main components. Freedom of choice is important because each one of us has our unique gifts and talents. One of us may be a fast reader, another a math whiz, yet another has a talents for all things mechanical. One may be a swift runner while another is a great cook. We are not all the same. Nor are all our children the same some learn through visual input through what they see, some learn best by listening with their ears and some need to touch to learn. Maria Montessori understood all these learning differences and created an environment for children where they come in each day and choose what they want to work on.

Montessori believed in discipline. But she realized that the way to reach it was by creating environments where children found engaging materials to use. When they are fully engaged in the work that appeals to them at their particular level of development, they become self-disciplined. You see in Montessori classrooms a group of three-, four- and five-year-olds hard at work. No teacher could command such discipline, yet the children freely give it to their own self-chosen work Freedom of choice becomes a habit of mind.  Freedom to explore your own thoughts and interests can open the floodgates to creativity

3. Briefly name the five curriculum areas of the classroom and the purpose of each. The Practical Life area of the classroom is based on the area culture where the school is located. The works and exercises are so critical because they are the foundation for all future learning in the classroom. The Sensorial area of the classroom uses the Sensorial Material to address the child’s Sensitive Period for the Refinement of the Senses. Language is alive in the room within all areas of the environment as the child depends totally on his environment for his oral development. MATHEMATICS

According to Dr. Montessori, we come into this world predisposed for mathematics. Even the smallest child reaching out for objects is actually performing calculated operations. For children it is not hard. They are born with the inclination and for them it is fun. In addition to Practical Life, Sensorial, Language and Mathematics, many cultural works are infused into the classroom. These include: Geography, Art, Science, Botany, Zoology, History and Music. Sometimes the simplest introductions help to build a foundation for the child’s learning.

4. Practical Life is one of the curriculum areas of the classroom. It is comprised of four main areas. Name those sections and give examples of each one. Social graces and courtesies:teacher introduces social graces and courtesies such as how to shake hands,saying please and thank you, how to interrupt someone,and how to cough and sneeze. Control of movement: these are provide the foundation and set the stage for all works in the Montessori classroom.included how to carrying chair,using whold and transfer bean to another bowl and so on. Care of environment:learning how to wash windows,and dishes,sweeping and dusting. Care of self:learning how to wash hands, brush teeth,pack a lunch.

5. What are the direct aims and the indirect aims of the practical life materials? .Direct Aim The materials in the Montessori classroom are offered to the children with a direct aim in mind. Each material isolates a concept and allows for repetitive practice with a certain skill and the child repeats this process to because he gets a sense of satisfaction. the direct aim in the Rice Pouring activity will be concentration, co-ordination, independence and order. Indirect Aim

In working with the Practical Life activities, the child indirectly prepares herself or himself in doing an activity. The indirect aim is to enable the child to do some activity on his own, rather than being dependent on the directress or any other adult.. The indirect aim of an exercise, in the Practical Life area of a Montessori environment, has two elements. It includes the self-evident purpose of the action. The second part of the indirect aim includes preparation for future learning.

6. Explain what is meant by the child as a spiritual embryo. Include the concepts of horme and mneme. The Child as Spiritual Embryo Montessori often compared the process of psychological and spiritual development to the physical unfolding of the human organism. Just as the material body first takes shape as a selfforming embryo, requiring during its formation the protection and nurturance of the… Horme is an unconscious will power the urge the child on to do what he needs to do to aid his divine urge which guides the child and his efforts to their goal.Horme belongs to life in general, to what might be called the Divine urge, the source of evolution.

This vital force for his growth stimulates the child to perform many actions and, if he is permitted to grow normally, without being hindered, it shows itself in what we call the “joy of life”. Mneme is is a supreme type of memory, which unconsciously stores impressions, which then become part of the child’s personality. So basically, the relationship of these terms is .. From birth to 3 the child’s mind is in a period of mental construction. Dr. Montessori referred to this period as the period of ‘Spiritual Embryo’.

7. What does Montessori mean by the absorbent mind and “sensitive periods”? Please define and explain. The “absorbent mind” refers to the mind’s capacity to take in information and sensations from the world that surrounds it.

Young children are a testament to the mind’s awesome ability to absorb. A baby is born without language, and with few skills other than their survival instinct. From birth to three years they use their senses (hands, eyes, ears, and nose) to soak in everything that surrounds them. The child does this naturally, and without thought or choice. Maria Montessori referred to this period as the ‘unconscious creation’.

The information that the child unconsciously absorbs from his surroundings in the early years is used to construct and create himself. Within a few short years a child is walking, talking, and able to feed himself. It is this awesome ability to absorb information that allows children to acquire the language, physical skills (walking, control of his hands), and control over his bodily functions that are necessary for future independence.

Within Maria Montessori’s framework due to her studies with children, she has observed the occurrence of sensitive periods. In other pedagogies it can get called developmental milestones or windows of opportunities. It is those periods in the child’s life when a certain ability manifests itself strongly. During these periods the child has an especially strong sensitivity towards a particular piece of knowledge or skill. The sensitivity lasts for a certain period and does not reoccur. The following are the Sensitive Periods for Children Aged from Birth to 6 years of Age: Sensitive Period for Order (age 18 months to 2 years)

Sensitive Period for Language (birth to 6 years)
Sensitive Period for Movement (birth to 4 years)
Sensitive Period for Refinement of the Senses (birth to 5 years) Sensitive Period for Weaning (5 to 6 months)
Sensitive Period for Numbers (4 to 5.5 years)
Sensitive Period for Manners and Courtesies (2 to 6 years)

8. Describe the process of normalization as defined by Montessori and describe a normalized child. How do the Montessori materials support the child in becoming normalized? Include a discussion of deviant behavior as described by Dr. Montessori.

A Philosophy of Normalization
Dr. Montessori explained the process of normalizationphilosophically as well as practically. She borrowed the term, horme, from Sir Percy Nun, an English philosopher.Horme refers to life force energy. It can be compared to the elan vital of Henri Bergson or the libido of Sigmund Freud or even to religious terms, the Holy Spirit. Horme is simply energy for life. It must stimulate and activate the individual because that is its nature. When the child is surrounded by plenty of suitable means (work of development) for using this energy, then her development proceeds normally.

9. Discuss the importance of movement, order, and repetition in the philosophy. Describe how these are particularly important in the practical life exercises and how they are encouraged.

Practical Life Exercises growth and development of the child’s intellect and concentration and will in turn also help the child develop an orderly way of thinking.Children are naturally interested in activities they have witnessed. Therefore, Dr. Montessori began using what she called “Practical Life Exercises” to allow the child to do activities of daily life and therefore adapt and orientate himself in his society. With repetition, they gain controls over their actions and learn practical life skills, which can be applied in their daily lives. Another important purpose for the practical life area is to help them develop their coordination in movements. These activities encourage the mind to focus on the small details for accomplishing complex tasks, which eventually bring orderly and refined movement. Children also develop concentration through practical life exercises, which is an important aspect of the inner discipline. Prolong attention towards certain activities is concentration.

The exercises in practical life are ideal for the development of the concentration because they attract children’s attentions and thus promote daily activities. As children work in the Practical Life area, they develop sense of order, muscle coordination, concentration, inner disciplines and independence.

10. What is the difference between discipline and self discipline? How do the practical life materials support a child in developing self discipline? Include a discussion of the development of will in your answer. What is the contribution of the ground rules in helping to develop self discipline in the young child? This was how Dr. Montessori described her classroom: “Despite their easy freedom of manner, the children on the whole gave the impression of being extraordinary disciplined”. 16 This depicts what a Montessori classroom should be like. For the doctoressa, the children were so disciplined and responsive to the teacher’s instructions that the teacher almost felt responsible for every word she said. Unusual enough, this kind of discipline or responsiveness does not keep the children from behaving and acting on their own impulses.

It is also not obtained by any external means. So what are these means? The prepared environment is one of the answers. It is important to note that the Montessori approach has been “defined as one which is based on Freedom in a Prepared environment” 17 There are some limitations in a prepared environment: only the good activities are encouraged because they lead to: “order, harmony, selfdevelopment and therefore to discipline…” A prepared environment is one that contains motives for activities and gives children independence. The teachers are only “passive observers” and providers of the right materials,” there should be no direct influence exerted to the child”. The Montessori prepared environment provides activities and materials, which motivate the child’s interest and inner concentration which results in natural self-discipline.

The fact that the child makes their own choice in their activities allows for independent learning and satisfaction. And only those materials that bring about concentrated self-activities and natural development can find their way in the Montessori classroom. However, the materials will be taken away if the children do not choose them even though they are well prepared.This shows how the children have their part in choosing the materials. I observed a boy (3 year old, I think) choose the pink tower. He randomly placed down the blocks and as oblivious to the other children working at their own activity near him. He patiently put the tower back together and went on to another activity. I saw “freedom’’ and “discipline working together in this child. Another thing to be considered in a prepared environment is the collective interest because “the liberty of the child should have as its limit the collective interest; as its form what we usually consider good breeding.”

11. What do we mean by the control of error and how is it important in developing a child’s independence and awareness?

As do most purchased Montessori materials it is important when developing your own materials and lessons to remember to ask yourself, do the children need to come to me for the answers or are they able to self-correct? If they can do it on their own, you’ve created a set of Montessori materials that will soon become a favorite in your classroom.

Dr. Montessori designed her materials so that while working with the material, the child receives instant feedback on his progress. In addition to developing independence, working with self-correcting materials helps the child learn to recognize, understand, correct, and learn from any mistakes that he makes. Having a control of error in the materials liberates the child to take control of his learning and not rely on adult judgment. As well, it boosts his self-esteem and motivation. Rather than being reluctant to try something new and make mistakes, the child feels free to take risks, knowing there is a control in place.

12. How do the practical life exercises relate to and prepare the child for work in the four other curriculum areas?
Practical Life or Everyday Living Skills activities are important to teach children to function in their own environment and find their place in their world and culture. Practical Life exercises help children find their place in their home by becoming involved in how their home works and how they can best function in their home. When children become involved in the workings of their home, it creates a great sense of pride and builds self-confidence. This sense of self-confidence will be imprinted in their being for future success.

With more and more success comes greater confidence, giving them the internal foundation to believe in themselves with the realization that they can conquer any task through repetition and perseverance. The concentration children develop through using Practical Life works will aid in future skills and success in other areas of the Montessori curriculum such as Sensorial, Language and Math and Culture.

13. What is role of the directress in the Montessori classroom? How is it different from other early childhood settings? How is it the same?

The Montessori teacher’s role is different from the role played by traditional teachers. Traditional teachers present a lesson to large group of students who are expected to listen and absorb the information provided. Montessori teachers work with only one or two students at a time providing learning material for the needs and interests of each child in the class. The teachers advise, present a lesson or observe children quietly while they work. In this way, children work at their own pace in a peaceful environment. Learning

If a child is not ready, a Montessori teacher does not force the child to learn. For instance, the teacher associates an object with its name, such as “book,” and asks the child to identify the word. If the child points to the object, the association has been made. If not, the teacher doesn’t correct the child but revisits the lesson another day. The Montessori system gives the child time to clear the consciousness to be ready to make the association another day. The Montessori system believes that by pushing a child, they will continue to get the association wrong.

Practical Life Written Examination Paper
1. You are asked to set up a practical life area in the classroom. What are the principles you must take into consideration in designing the practical life materials? In practical life materials and carries everything i might need to have a complete practical life area. I’ll need various sizes of children.

Because Practical Life Exercises are meant to resemble everyday activities, it is important that all materials be familiar, real, breakable, and functional. The materials must also be related to the child’s time and culture. In order to allow the child to fully finish the exercise and to therefore finish the full cycle of the activity, the material must be complete.

In the environment, the Directress may want to color code the materials as well as arrange the materials based on difficulties in order to facilitate the classification and arrangements of the work by the children.

The attractiveness is also of utmost importance as Montessori believed that the child must be offered what is most beautiful and pleasing to the eye so as to help the child enter into a “more refined and subtle world”.

2. Explain with examples the characteristics built into the practical life exercise that help children have successful experience when they use the material.
I’ll consider the function and manageability, good looks and aesthetic appeal, proportions, completeness, color coordination, control of error, safety and respect for tools, interest, cleanliness, price, availability, readiness, work potential, sequence, organization, order, adaptability, teacher and learning mode, working order, quality and cultural relevance. 2.Explain with examples the characteristics built into the practical life exercise that help children have successful experience when they use the material. • Familiar- Activities children see everyday in their environment. • Culturally Specific- Exercises that reflect the culture in which children live. • Real- Real tools and activities reflects the respect we have for children and their abilities. • Physically Proportioned- In order to help children develop their motor skills and perfect precise movements. • Attractive- Experiencing beauty lays the foundation of self-appreciation. • Color-coded- To assist children in independence.

• Orderly- In order for children to develop work organization, setting limits, and integrate and form connections between things in their environment.

• Limited- In order to instill to children the idea of repetition, intelligent choice, and fo the children to realize in a gentle way that they can’t always have their needs satisfied at once. 3.A prospective parent would like to know why you have the practical life area in the classroom. How would you explain to her/him the importance of the practical life… 3. A prospective parent would like to know why you have the practical life area in the classroom. How would you explain to her/him the importance of the practical life exercises in the classroom? Give examples. (1point)

4. As one of your goals for this year you would like the children to be able to sew a button. List the sequence of exercises over the year that you would make available to the children so that they would have the opportunity to develop the ability to successfully sew a button. (2 points) 5. You would like to introduce a shell washing activity to the class. What would be your reasons to have a shell washing activity in the class? Why would a child want to do this work? (1 point) 6. In order to undertake the clothes washing activity, certain skills must be acquired. What skills would be necessary in order for the child to have a successful experience? List the activities that you would make available in order for the child to develop these skills. (2points) 7. How do the exercises of practical life prepare the child for reading writing and mathematics? Give examples. (1 point)

“The child has a creative aptitude, a potential energy that will enable it to build up a mental world from the world about it. He makes numerous acquisitions during the sensitive periods, which put him in relation to the other world in an exceptionally intense manner.” The Secret of Childhood by Maria Montessori. TNOTE:

[1] From MMTTC (Summer articles from MOMTEP)
[2] “The Practical Life Exercise” by Margot Waltuch, p. 5.
[3] “The secret of childhood” by Maria Montessori, p. 97.
[4] “The absorbent mind”, by Maria Montessori, p. 273.

1. Constance Corbett, “Movement”. (Summer Article)
2. Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, New York Dell Publishing, 1967. 3. Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood, New York Ballantine Books, 1966. 4. Margot R. Waltuch, “The practical Life Exercises”. (Summer article) 5. Nicola Allen, “Culture in Cooking”. (Summer article)

“One was that the child’s mind can acquire culture at a much earlier age than generally supposed, but his way of taking in knowledge is by certain kinds of activity which involve movement” (Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, p.157). “The results we obtain with our little ones contrast oddly with the fact that mathematics is so often held to be a scourge rather than a pleasure in school programmes. Most people develop” mental barriers” against it. Yet all is easy if only its roots can be implanted in the absorbent mind” (Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, p.170).

“Writing is therefore very easy for children. It is not so with reading, which demands an extensive period of instruction and requires a higher intellectual development, since it involves interpreting the signs and modulating the voice in order to understand the meaning of a word…Writing develops easily and spontaneously in a little child in the same way as speech, which is also a motor translation of sounds that have been heard. Reading on the other hand, forms a part of an abstract intellectual culture. It interprets ideas represented by graphic symbols and is acquired only later” (Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child, p.199).

“And if we look at the sensorial apparatus which is able to evoke such deep concentration (remarkable in very small children between the ages of three and four, there is no doubt that this apparatus may be regarded not only as a help to exploring the environment, but also to the development of the mathematical mind” (Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, p.170). The practical life area is one of the four general areas in the prepared environment. Activities here build on the child’s natural interest and help him develop good work habits, concentration, eye-hand coordination, a lengthened attention span and control of his body (Montessori, The Secret of Childhood, picture p.1). http://www.infomontessori.com/practical-life/care-of-the-person-washing-hands.htm

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