Unit One The Children and You
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active. Montessori soon learned these methods could
also be used with other children. This led to the
development of the fi rst Montessori school in Rome.
Montessori’s methods became known all over
the world. After a short period of popularity,
however, interest in this method declined for the
next 40 years. In the 1950s, there was a rebirth of
the Montessori method. Magazines and television
helped make this method known. Today her
philosophy, materials, and methods are used in
private and public schools throughout the world.
Montessori believed in self-education in
multi-age groups. The primary goal of the
Montessori approach was for children to “learn
how to learn” in a prescribed environment. After
observing and analyzing the children, teachers
would provide instructional materials. Materials
were provided in a prescribed sequence, which
related to the children’s physical and mental
development. This self-directed learning
approach allowed the child to interact with the
environment by exploring materials. Montessori
felt that this approach would provide the child
freedom within limits. It would also help the
children to learn logically.
Daily-living exercises designed to promote
independence are stressed in Montessori schools.
Children must learn to care for themselves.
Teachers provide little help. As a result, children
learn to button, zip, tie, and put on coats and boots.
The purpose of sensory training is to help
children refi ne their senses and help develop
intelligence. They learn touch, sound, taste, and
sight discrimination. One piece of equipment
for this training is a set of sandpaper blocks that
vary in texture. The children are told to rub their
fi ngers across the blocks. Their goal is to correctly
Figure 2.3 Materials used in a Montessori school are designed to help children learn with little adult guidance.
In her fi rst schools, Montessori stressed
proper nutrition, cleanliness, manners, and
sensory training. Children also worked with
special equipment she designed (Figure 2.3).
These materials were self-correcting and
required little adult guidance. The materials
were organized by the teacher from simple to
complex to make learning possible. By handling
and moving the materials, the children’s senses
were trained and they learned to think. They
also learned number concepts as well as motor,
language, writing, and self-help skills.