Mission San Jose Children's Center
Education for Life

Dr. Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was the first female physician in Italy and an educator who pioneered research in the field of early childhood education and started a school which developed universal methods and material to meet the needs of each child.

Dr. Montessori believed that every child is born a unique individual.  A child's sense of order and self-discipline hlep him or her to achieve freedom.  With this freedom, he or she will then develop his or her physical and intellectual power.

Montessori Education/Philosophy

Children receive lessons on an individual and small group basis through the directress's (teacher's) observation.  Each child works at his/her pace in a prepared environment.  The environment which is prepared by the teachers, reinforces the child's independence and intellectual development.  Children are taught to respect the materials and others.

Absorbent mind

Dr. Montessori discovered that "there exists in the small child an unconsious mental state which is of a creative nature."  We have called this the absorbent mind.  This absorbent mind does not construct with a voluntary effort but follows the inner sensitivities of each individual child.  During this period, which we call the "sensitive period," all the unconscious work of absorbing the language occurs without effort.  The child needs to be living in a real setting in order to take it in.  The Montessori classroom is organized to maximize the absorbtion during this sensitive period.

Sensitive period

The individual child has successive short periods when certain attitudes show strongly.  These short periods are when there is a strong attraction toward a particular knowledge or skill.  The directress will identify the sensitive periods and give the lessons to facilitate the knowledge absorbtion.

Freedom and discipline

A child achieves the ability to follow his inner guide to control himself when the situation requires it.  In order to help the child achieve this inner disceipline, we provide freedom, within limits, to help the child develop the ability to control himself.

The directress, the children, and the prepared environment

Dr. Montessori referred to the teacher as a directress.  The task of directress is to provide for the individual the opportunities to develop to their full potential.  The environment should allow the child to develop.  The role of the directress is to link the child to the prepared environment.