Early Childhood Education-Learning Through the Senses

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Learning through the Senses
Anika Salazar
ECE 101 Introduction to Early Childhood Education
Instructor Carly Davenport
January 09, 2012

As parents of young children, we often ponder which Early Childhood Program to enroll our children in. At one point in time they were non-existent. As early childhood educators emerged, programs were created. Interestingly, the Montessori approach is a specialized method created by Maria Montessori. The Montessori Method; which is widely used today was created with the focus of children learning from their environment (Morrison, 2009). Montessori’s are not aimed at talented and gifted children; this method is expressed in public and private school settings in conjunction with children attending up to age 18. In addition, Montessori serves the needs of children of all levels of mental and physical abilities (Stephenson, 2011).

In 1870, Maria Montessori, the first Italian woman to secure a medical degree (Stephenson, 2011). With her degree she entered the fields of psychiatry, education and anthropology. She had a passion for young minds. She believed that children educate themselves. Montessori became a physician in 1896, attending the University of Rome psychiatric clinic. During her tenure, Dr. Montessori developed an enthusiasm for the study of children with special needs; where she also spoke on their behalf.

Twenty-six years later, Maria relocated to San Lorenzo, Rome to study children without disabilities. There she observed fifty children which resulted in success. This success was recognized and spread all over, attracting travelers from all over to this remarkable case study. An in-depth explanation of what a Montessori truly is, Stephenson (2011) clearly states:

A Montessori can be defined as a revolutionary method of observing and supporting the natural development of children. Montessori educational practice helps children develop creativity, problem solving, critical thinking and time-management skills to contribute to society and the environment, and to become fulfilled persons in their particular time and place on Earth. The basis of Montessori practice in the classroom is mixed age group (3 ages- 6 ages in one class), individual choice of research and work, and interrupted concentration. Group lesson are seldom found in a Montessori classroom, but learning abounds.

Since Montessori’s death, educators all over continue to implement and notice this method has worked all over the world with all kinds of children (wealthy, poor, gifted, normal, learning disabled, etc.) and environments (from slums, to elegant schools, etc.). Maria agreed that when physical, mental, spiritual and emotional needs are met, children glow with excitement and a drive to play and work with enthusiasm, to learn, and to create. In conjunction, children exude a desire to teach, help and care for others and for their environment (Stephenson, 2011). During her lectures and travels, Maria Montessori was nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize.

In addition to the explanation of a Montessori, the following is the Montessori Method. This method meticulously exemplifies how Montessori educators implement the method in various programs across the country. There are five basic principle associated with the Montessori Method. They are: Respect for the child, The Absorbent child, Sensitive periods, The Prepared environment and Auto-education. Respect for the children occurs when educators assist children with new projects, allowing them to learn for themselves. Giving the child room to explore their boundaries flourishes abilities for positive self- esteem (Morrison, 2009). Montessori also believed having respect for the child is a key element. She said (Morrison, 2009),

As a rule, however we do not respect children. We try to force them to follow us without regard to their special needs. We are overwhelming with them, and above all, rude; and then we...
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