After her training in science and medicine, Dr. Montessori developed her educational practices scientifically, through observation and experiment. She noticed that children of different ages had different needs and tendencies. She defined these age ranges as planes of development and determined that the methods and practices of education should change with the children and that lessons are most effective when they appeal to the tendencies and characteristics of their particular plane of development.
Currently, KULIMA MONTESSORI offers 3 different levels of education:
Toddler Community (15-36 months)
Children’s House (ages3-6)
Lower Elementary (ages 6-9)
Upper Elementary (ages 9-12)
The tendencies and characteristics of children are different in each of these age groups. As such, the educational methods and materials differ as well. Nonetheless, there are many consistent features across the curriculum.
Montessori schools have multi-age classrooms, generally encompassing a three-year age span. Older students often teach younger students, both through modeling, giving lessons, and assisting with work. In this way both sides benefit, both academically and socially. In the Children’s house (3-6 years old) there is more one-on-one focus with the teacher, in keeping with the more solitary, ego-driven explorations that characterize this plane of development. By the Elementary (6–9 and 9-12 years old), the group instinct emerges, and classroom activities actively encourage cooperative work.
FREEDOM AND DISCIPLINE
Freedom of movement and free choice of activities are important features in any Montessori classroom. Students are free to choose group, individual, or partner work and will disperse to appropriate spaces in the classroom and work on a variety of activities simultaneously with the teacher observing or moving among them. Freedom, however, is not an absolute. “Freedom is not given for its own sake, or for any end we please…” Students who do not show enough self-discipline to meet social or academic expectations may find their freedoms curtailed until they demonstrate more responsibility. Freedom without responsibility is license.
Dr. Montessori’s Legacy
The term "Montessori" was never trademarked; any school can use her name and claim to make use of the educational method. There are two main groups who train teachers and accredit schools in the United States: the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) was founded by Dr. Montessori herself and directed from the Netherlands (with a national branch office in Rochester, New York), and the American Montessori Society (AMS,) which is headquartered in New York City.
AMI teacher training is rigorous: the course requires either a full academic year or three summers, and culminates in the inspection of student-written teaching albums and several days of oral and written exams. A bachelor’s degree is required for application and a master’s degree in education can be earned with an extra summer of study. AMI offers diplomas for Assistants to Infancy and for Primary and Elementary teachers; only a limited number complete the training each year, and are in high demand around the country and the world.