Dr. Maria Montessori established the Montessori education approach. It is an educational approach that is child-centered and is based on the observations of children from birth to adulthood using scientific analyses. This education approach has been tested and is effective for various cultures all over the globe. Furthermore the approach values above all the spirit of the human and the whole childs physical, emotional, social and cognitive development. The Montessori education approach is based upon auto-education, where the education of the child is viewed as a natural process that is carried out spontaneously through environmentally implicated experiences. The approach relies upon the fact that the children self educate themselves through interactions and engagement with their environment. The Montessori sensory materials are used by the children after a brief guidance by the teacher on what to do with them. These materials include items grouped based on shared physical traits like color, size, and shape. The consistency in use of these materials resulted into a spontaneous repetition of their activities implying more appeal to the use of the sensory materials. The children, therefore, learn on their schedule and ways enabling them to acquire several aspects of creativity in productive processes. For instance, one does not learn to play tennis based on the instructions they receive but from active engagement in this game long enough to instill appropriate expertise and skills (Diego, Montessori).
The education approach is based upon the maximum utilization of sensitive periods where the child can actively engage with all focus and maximum concentration on a particular activity. Learning during this time comes easily and is accompanied by an intense rate of activity. As a result of this observation, several sensitive periods were scheduled including that for example to practice order, walking and movement, senses refinement and the improvement of the social life of the children. These periods are therefore the moment of extreme creativity and are used to let the children have freedom to pursue their interests. When given the freedom to express themselves and pursue their interests, the children made good use of their absorbent mind. The absorbent mind allows children to grasp the perceptions and attitude within their vicinity through their internally based harmony and true discipline. This could be done with minimal or no force at all. For instance, through the working together of the children in the free environment, they could learn to willingly show care and love for each other.
The importance of the sensorial materials to the child cannot be underestimated. These materials are an array of objects that which are categorized according to their observable qualities such as color, temperature, weight and texture among others. Each category of the materials was further subdivided into variations in the degree of the dominant quality. Among the series of the objects, there were maximums and minimums that dictated the limits or a fixed extent of use by the child, for instance, the various degrees of note and sound produced by the piano. This enabled them to exercise the extent to which they will use them and also learn the concepts of variation and extension, for example, the taste variation of edible fruits. The materials were also carefully designed to help in the mathematical education of aspects such as the control of error. An instance of control of error is when the is taught to fit all cylinder blocks into a cylinder, and the failure to do so would mean one of the cylinder blocks is out of its place. To teach on the appeal for the five senses, the children were also subject to different materials that they could relate to the five senses. To the sense of sight they used color differentiation and variation; to the sense of smell, various degrees of odor; the sense of touch, the texture variation of the materials; the sense of hearing, different music notes and variations of sound; and to the sense of taste, they used different flavors of edibles items. They were taught to learn to use the senses through the process of identifying and isolating particular qualities and further focusing on their description.
As stated earlier, in the Montessori education approach the teacher took part in more secondary roles of the learning process. First of all, as a preparer of the environment, the teacher was to sets the appropriate environment for the auto-education of the children. The teacher does so by demonstrating to the children on how to use the sensory materials in a constructive manner. After that, the teacher simply leaves them and observes their progress in carrying out their activities in the freely set environment. In the preparation of the environment, the teacher is not supposed to assist the children in any of the activities; the teachers participation is limited to a simple demonstration. The children are constantly exposed to similar materials until they adopt a similar pattern of behavior through the process of normalization.
The sensorial materials are also applicable to other major curriculum areas which include practical life, language arts, and mathematics. In the practical life, the exercises involved have basic aspects of the sensorial learning. These exercises help inculcate independence, concentration, and friendliness into the childrens lives. These exercises include objects they meet in real life like toothbrushes, water, and dishes. The reading skills obtained through phonic systems in language arts are essential to the childrens future days at school making learning a joyful and fun-filled experience. An example of the exercises used includes a word building task like matching of words and corresponding pictures. The use of sensory in Mathematics is useful in building up the childrens number and counting concepts. The numbers are designed such as they can be held in hand by the child and felt. The basic operations of arithmetic like addition and subtraction are learned in this area. The use of sensorial activities in this education approach has either a direct or indirect aim. The direct aim of the sensorial activities is to enhance the awareness of the children of the important properties through their senses and with less dependence on discreet items. The second direct aim of the sensorial activities is to refine the childrens senses, and the final one is to help them identify that each entity is found in an infinite variation of its quality. The indirect aims of the use of the sensorial activities include the general need to help position the child intellectually for areas like language, math, and humanities.
The use of the sensory materials in the Montessori education approach is essential to the upbringing of a mentally, socially and physically active child. The materials instill boldness and confidence in the expression of the knowledge learned by the children from a tender age.
Diego, Montessori. "Auto-Education: The Heart of The Montessori Approach". Misdlj.Blogspot.Co.Ke, 2014, http://misdlj.blogspot.co.ke/2015/09/auto-education-heart-of-montessori.html.
"Montessori Practical Life, Montessori Sensorial | Montessori Jobs & Teacher Training Course College & School UK". Montessori.Org.Uk, 2016, http://www.montessori.org.uk/magazine-and-jobs/library_and_study_resources/teacher-training-study-resources/topics
"Montessori Philosophy". Harbouroaks.Org, 2016, http://harbouroaks.org/montessori-philosophy/.
"Introduction To Montessori Method | American Montessori Society". Amshq.Org, 2016, https://amshq.org/Montessori-Education/Introduction-to-Montessori.
"Alpine Montessori | Preschool | Kindergarten | Oak Ridge | Sparta | Millburn | Summit | Jefferson | Short Hills | West Milford | NJ |". Alpinemontessori.Com, 2016, http://www.alpinemontessori.com/index.php.
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