Casa dei Bambini

To get to know Montessori, we must first read about the story of how the Montessori method came to be - which brings us to Casa dei Bambini, the first "school" that Dr. Maria Montessori started in the slums of San Lorenzo in Italy.

Casa dei Bambini or Children's House, was started on 6th Januari 1907 in San Lorenzo,  Rome, Italy by Dr. Maria Montessori. She was at that time tasked by the city to help out with the private housing projects for the poor that are located in the area. "Sixty tearful, frightened children, so shy that it was impossible to get them to speak; dejected, uncared-for, pale, under-nourished children who had grown up in dark hovels without anything to stimulate their minds.” Such was the description that Dr. Maria Montessori gave of the children that were to be in her care.

These children grew up very poor and with no one to help them out with any of their upbringings, thus it is understandable that they were in such conditions, but yet these children were the seeds that brought out all the good that is the Montessori methods. As Dr. Maria Montessori herself stated, 6th of January is traditionally celebrated as the Feast of Epiphany in Italy. It might not have been a coincidence that on this day, the work started that brought out many lights throughout the world. 

Follow The Child

As Dr. Maria Montessori did not know it at the time, she only provided the children with basic materials and tools such as pencils and papers. She then observed them over some period of time, in which the children themselves took the initiative in their learning and interactions with each other. They were left alone and little by little the children began to work with concentration; and the transformation they underwent, was noticeable. From timid and wild as they were before, the children became sociable and communicative. They showed a different relationship with each other. Their personalities grew and, strange though it may seem, they showed extraordinary understanding, activity, vivacity and confidence. They were happy and joyous.

And thus the Montessori methods of learning was born. Dr. Maria Montessori continued to observe these young children, following their ways of learning, supporting them along the way with the materials they need and the guidance they obviously require, but the children do much of the work and the explorations. In her words: "It has nothing to do with any educational method of the past, nor with any educational method of the future. It stands alone as the contribution of the child himself. Perhaps it is the first of its kind, which has been built by the child, step by step."

Lastly but importantly, she mentioned, "anyone who wants to follow my method must understand that he should not honour me but follow the child as the leader."

This basic principle to "Follow the Child" remains one of the core tenets of Montessori methods to this day. As Dr. Maria Montessori observed almost one hundred years ago, the children, when left to their devices, get to work on bettering themselves.

The Prepared Environment

The other piece of the puzzle that Dr. Maria Montessori put together from her observations is the "Prepared Learning Environment" for the children to learn in. To enable the children to do self discovery and learning, Montessori deduced that they need to be in an environment in which they will be stimulated to continuously inquire and move with purpose. Everything in the Montessori classroom is designed to enable them to do so.

Features that are usually found in a Montessori "Prepared Environment" classroom, bright and open, with natural elements while still being ordered, children know where things are, and learning materials within easy reach of the children. The typical Montessori classrooms do not necessarily have designated seats for all the children, as they might get to work on different subjects and topics throughout the days. However, all the freedom in the classroom is always within clearly defined limits set by the teachers - who must readily observe and assist when needed, as well as drawing boundaries when necessary.

Repetition and practice are always encouraged - thus children would be able to grasp the materials that they are learning. Children are actively involved in the subjects using concrete materials that they interact with, physically, visually, or through music and the likes.

Montessori Academics

Contrary to what some people might believe, Montessori has a lot of emphasis on academics, in addition to other aspects of the children's developments. Even though the methods seem different than sitting down at the desks and listening to teachers, Montessori curriculum is well defined, structured, and addresses the needs for early age children developments.

Spring Shine implemented the Montessori methods in the following subjects: