This paper outlines the work performed by Maria Montessori and Arnold Gesell, how their theories have impacted the field of Early Childhood Education. How I, a student of Early Childhood Education can incorporate this knowledge into my daily life to become a positive influence to every child that I touch in my path of educating. Reflection on Theorists/Theories
There are two individuals in early education history that stand out to me; they are Maria Montessori and Arnold Gesell. Both have helped to shape early education as we know it today. Maria Montessori bought us the theory of observation of children to open the door to a way of teaching. Arnold Gesell, who bought us the developmental milestones of children. Refer to as the norms, should be consider a starting point to measure development. Both still inspiring early educators of today.
It is impressive that Maria Montessori is the first female physician in Italy. This endeavor was a major feat to achieve in her time. She provided great contributions to the cognitive-development theory. Not only did she achieve this accomplishment, she used her skills to aid the children of poverty and disabilities. This to me is a very courageous and endearing act. During her work with impoverished communities, she observed that the environment had no stimulation or structure for children to learn. This led her to embark on another adventure, she opened a preschool named Casa di Bambini in 1907. Maria Montessori formed her beliefs by observing children. One of Montessori’s beliefs, “In reality, the children are the teachers". The adults were to create an environment conducive to learning. Once this environment is created the children would venture out and learn through play. This belief is still practiced in childcare facilities today. There are safety guidelines that each facility must abide by for the protection of all children. Complying with the safety regulations and ensuring children can be active and play without danger, in turn gives children a wondrous world to investigate. In her observations, she formed many other beliefs. One being education of children starts at birth and continues on in the early years of childhood. She called these years the “sensitive periods” (Gordon and Browne 14). The Daily Montessori web site writes, “Within Maria Montessori’s framework due to her studies with children, she has observed the occurrence of sensitive periods. In other pedagogies it can get called developmental milestones or windows of opportunities. It is these periods in the child’s life when certain ability manifests itself strongly. During these periods, the child has an especially strong sensitivity towards a particular piece of knowledge or skill. The sensitivity lasts for a certain period and does not reoccur”.
Sensitive Period for Order (age 18 months to 2 years)
Sensitive Period for Language (birth to 6 years)
Sensitive Period for Movement (birth to 4 years)
Sensitive Period for Refinement of the Senses (birth to 5 years)
Sensitive Period for Weaning (5 to 6 months)
Sensitive Period for Numbers (4 to 5.5 years)
Sensitive Period for Manners and Courtesies (2 to 6 years)
(Retrieved February 06, 2011, from http://www.dailymontessori.com/sensitive-periods/montessori-sensitive-periods/)
This belief is very much alive still today in our society. In centers of, today infants are not just left to lie in their crib. We have areas that infants can crawl, touch, and discover new things. Another belief that Montessori implemented within her preschool was to make items assessable to the child. This meant having furniture that was suitable for the children size. Insuring the environment was safely brought down to a child’s level, so the child could take part in activities. Our current classrooms are set up in the same manner. You can see in the classrooms of today small tables and chairs, carpet areas where children can gather, and...