Dr. Maria Montessori and Her Philosophy
Maria Montessori was the first woman in Italy to receive a degree in Doctor of Medicine (1896). After she graduated, Dr. Maria Montessori worked as an assisted doctor at the Psychiatric Clinic at the University of Rome. One of her roles was to visit asylums to select candidates for the clinic. During her visits, she noticed that the children were not treated with respect by the caretakers. She saw the children were searching for sensorial experiences that could be achieved with manipulatives. She then began to observe children for two years and believed her observations were a degree within itself!
In 1907 Casa dei Bambini opened in Rome where Dr. Montessori taught fifty to sixty children who were all from a low-income area. Because she observed the children needing guidance, Montessori developed lessons and materials that fit the needs of the children. Maria saw that children learned through sensorial experiences and concrete materials, thus the Montessori method was born!
The Children's House is divided up into several categories, one being Practical Life. Through the Practical Life activities, the child practices independence, exercises motor skills, develops concentration, understands a sense of order, and demonstrates self-confidence. Because Maria saw a need for sensorial experiences in children she developed a whole curriculum around manipulating materials. The Sensorial area of the classroom involves every sense (touch, smell, sight, hearing, taste). After the child understands size gradation through the Sensorial materials, Mathematics can then be introduced. The child will learn through the base of ten and will manipulate materials in a concrete way. Geography is taught in a cosmic way in which the child has a broad understanding that the Earth is made up of different landforms. This a prerequisite to naming all the different lands (continents, countries, islands and etc.). The beginning lessons in Science introduce the idea of living and non-living objects in the world. Music, art, and dramatic play can be found in each area of the classroom!