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What is Montessori?

 

Montessori is an educational philosophy based on the scienti­fic observations of Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian physician

 

The method is based on the following premises:

a)The most crucial years of learning are from birth to six year

b)Children must be respected as individuals who are different from adults and each other.

c)The unique mental faculties of children allow them to absorb impression become their intellectual foundation.

 

How is Montessori Education unique?

 

1. Montessori is a multi-faceted educational method that encompasses all the development needs of a child intellectual physical, social and psychological. This broad curriculum emphasis the joy of learning by allowing children to learn at their own pace and according to their own interest. In this way the Montessori Method promotes self - confidence which enables the child to face new challenges fearlessly and without hesitation.

2. Observing that "the hands are the means to the intellect" the Montessori Method is fundamentally a sensorial approach to pre-school learning. Dr. Montessori devised a series of developmentally-appropriate materials that attract the child' attention and challenge the mind. They are sequential and self correcting activities that facilitate the learning of skills and concepts.

3. Montessori teachers direct children toward purposeful activity by demonstrating materials that are suitable to each child's needs. Once a material has been properly demonstrated by the teacher, the child is free to return to it as his/her interest or curiosity dictates. In this way she serves as a guide or "directress to young children. Recognizing that learning is an individual process. The Montessori teacher is a keen observer of children and is always ready to provide a new learning opportunity for the ever curious child. She is also a meticulous care taker, providing a safe and positive learning environment.

4. Dr. Montessori designed a special educational environment. It is called:"Children's House". She theorized that children are most receptive to learning in a home-like atmosphere that welcomes them, stimulates them and provides a sense of security. Children learn to care for their "house" and take pride in it's cleanliness and beauty.

5. Every Montessori class is composed of children between the ages of three to six years. This three-year age span provides a family­like setting and to a more natural learning environment.Younger children are able to look upon the work of their older peers with curiosity which may provide the impetus for their interest in learning. Older children act as role models and helpers to younger ones. Moreover they reinforce their own learning by sharing their experiences with the younger ones. Such interaction between children of different ages encourages conversation thereby enhancing the communication skills of the children.

 

What happens after Montessori school?

 

Montessori education fosters early decision making skills by allowing children to make choices. Good communication skills are developed by encouraging children to communicate freely with each other. The development of these skills encourages a child's self confidence, which provides a solid foundation for all subsequent learning. An independent, self confident child is able to make a smooth transition to any other educational setting.

 

How can a real Montessori school be identified?

 

Since Montessori is in the public domain, an individual or institution can claim to be Montessori. Therefore parents must be alert and check out so-called Montessori schools.

Parents who are interested in the Montessori Method for their child should visit a school and observe a class in progress.

 

The following criteria should be based when assessing a Montessori school

 

a)Are the teachers trained in the Montessori Method?

b)Where did they train?

c)Are the children working independently?

Montessori schools recognize the unique development of each child. Check to see that children are working at their own pace and according to their interests and at the same time have a desire to share their experiences with their peer and work together in small groups.

d)Are Montessori materials being used?

A fundamental component Montessori education is a set of specially-designed materials. These materials should be within reach of the children who use them daily. Materials alone, however, do not ensure a successful programme. They must be used under supervision of a Montessori trained teacher.

 

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Information concerning Child Developers Programme

 

Montessori teachers are trained in Nairobi at the Child Developers Programme (C.D.P), which is situated within the compound of Assumption of Mary Catholic Church, Umoja one. The course begun in 1974 and has trained more than 2,000 child developers (teachers) who are located in nursery schools all over Kenya teaching some 16,000 children. Students at C.D.P undergo a rigorous two years training in Montessori theory and practice. This includes making most of the materials found in the Montessori Method.

The first phase is a non-residential and or residential course which starts in the middle of February and ends in the middle of December each year, then June to April. Each student is responsible for living arrangements, fares, pocket money and any other incidental expenses.

The second phase of the course consists of one year of practical work in a sponsoring nursery school. During the two years of practical work the student is routinely inspected to assess her/his progress. C.D.P awards a Montessori teaching certificate to each student who successfully completes the full two years of training.

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