Maria Montessori was born in 1870 and is best known for the Montessori Method of education for children from birth to adolescence. Montessori was the first women to gain a medical degree in Italy. Montessori became interested in the development of deprived children and those labelled ‘idiot children’.
In 1907 Montessori opened a children’s home in Rome. The children that were in the home were given wooden cylinders, cubes to build towers and shape sorting toys. The staff were told to observe the children and not to intervene with them. The children became so involved with these new toys that dolls and wagons were ignored. Montessori claimed that withdrawn and timid children changed into social and joyous creatures. Maria Montessori developed furniture that was child sized and lightweight in order to create the right environment for learning.
Within the Montessori Method, gardening, caring for pets and gymnastics are encouraged to allow the children free movement and choice over activities. The children are able to access equipment when they want it and are given long periods of uninterrupted learning. The children are given boundaries but within these have control over their own activities. Montessori believed children did not need imaginative play as this would distract them from the real world.
Children who attended and who today attend Montessori nurseries and schools are believed to grow into confident, independent decision makers. The Montessori Method is still widely used around the world.
Maria Montessori is highly influential and there are many Montessori schools open across the world following her Montessori Method providing uninterrupted learning and freedom of choice. Many playgroups/pre-schools now offer rolling snack allowing choice over when to eat and prolonged uninterrupted learning.