You may have heard of Montessori education or Montessori child care well before you actually knew what that meant. The learning approach became popular in the United States around 1960 and has since spread to thousands of preschools and daycares, with over a dozen in the Austin area.
Montessori preschools in Austin are based on the popular learning style that was developed by an Italian physician and educator named Maria Montessori in the early 1900’s. She established this developmental approach from extensive research with special needs children, and it focuses on independence, freedom within limits, and following a child’s natural psychological, physical and social development. While based on her research with special needs children, Montessori’s philosophy is appropriate for all children.
Here’s why. Fundamentally, Montessori education is a model of human development, and the educational approach is based on that model. The model has two basic principles. The first principle is that children absorb and learn by interacting with their environments. The second is that children, especially under the age of six, have an inborn path of psychological development.
Based on her observations, Montessori believed that children who are able to choose and act freely within the environment prepared according to her model would learn according to their natural tendency and thus achieve optimal progress and growth.
Although a range of educational practices exist under the name Montessori, the following fundamentals are needed according to the International and American associations of Montessori:
- Mixed age classrooms, from 2½ to 6 years old are the most common
- A Montessori trained teacher
- Students choose their activities from a range of options
- Freedom of movement within the classroom
- Uninterrupted blocks of learning time, ideally three hours
- A discovery model, where students learn concepts from working with materials, instead of direct instruction
- Specialized educational materials developed by Montessori and her collaborators
Montessori daycare in Austin allows children the freedom to learn, but does not force learning on them. It gives them a chance to be children, who are naturally curious and want to discover the world around them, while having fun and developing at their own pace.