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The Montessori Philosophy
       The basic idea in the Montessori philosophy of education is that all children carry within themselves the person they will become. In order to develop physical, intellectual, and spiritual potential to the fullest, the child must have freedom; a freedom to be achieved through order and self-discipline. The world of the child, say Montessori educators, is full of sights and sounds which at first appear chaotic. From this chaos, children must gradually create order, learn to distinguish among the impressions that assail their senses, and slowly, but surely gain mastery of themselves and their environment.
          Dr. Maria Montessori developed what she called the prepared environment, which already possesses a certain order and allows children to learn at their own speed, according to their capacities and in a non-competitive atmosphere. “Never let children risk failure until they have a reasonable chance of success”. The years between three and six are the years in which children learn the rules of human behavior most easily. These are also the years that the child is in their sensitive period for language and math skills. The functions of our oral language, decoding the mysteries of the written language, and understanding – through the use of specialized materials – the order that mathematics brings to our world. The child is excited about each new skill and achievement! In this environment, the child is free to develop at a rate that is comfortable for him. It is not unusual for children to be reading at advanced levels, writing cursive, and functioning at advanced math levels. The elementary years build on this solid foundation and broadens the child’s understanding in language arts, math, science, etc, perfecting these skills and giving opportunities to advance their knowledge with cooperative and individualized learning styles.
          Dr. Montessori recognized that the only valid impulse to learning is the self-motivation of the child. Children move themselves towards learning. The teacher prepares the environment, guides the activity, and offers the child stimulation, but it is the child who learns; who is motivated through work stimulation itself to persist in a given task. If Montessori children are free to learn, it is because they have acquired an “inner discipline” from their exposure to both physical and mental order. This is the core of Dr. Montessori’s philosophy. Social adjustment, though a necessary condition for learning in a schoolroom, is not the purpose of education. Patterns of concentration and thoroughness, established in early childhood and continued through the elementary years, produce a confident, competent learner in later years. Montessori teachers children to observe, to think, to judge. It introduces children to the joy of learning at an early age and provides a framework in which intellectual and social discipline go hand-in-hand. A child who acquires the basic skills of reading and arithmetic in this natural way has the advantage of beginning his elementary education without boredom or discouragement. By learning in an individualized, hands-on manner throughout his/her preschool and elementary years in a Montessori classroom, he gains an early enthusiasm for learning, which is the key to his becoming a truly educated person and developing the great potential within him.