Meeting with Mrs Chandrika, School councillor of The Sharanalaya Montessori School ICSE school in Chennai, India
- In the child-meant environment, in which furniture made of only natural wood hosts learning materials which are both functionally and aesthetically stored. The distribution of the furniture in the rooms leaves a lot of space for the work on the ground with small carpets, which the children can take from a corner and spread on
- In the learning materials. The Montessori materials are made according to the scientifically observed needs and development phases of the child. They are made of natural materials and have always an aesthetic, logical and functional form and distribution of the items. They are mostly 3D materials so that they involve both the
visual and the psychomotor perception of the child. They let space to the play and the improvisation, that s to say to creativity, and they let space to the discovery of an inner order in the things, exactly as it is in nature. – Maria Montessori first studied natural science, and only later could she study medicine. She was the first lady-doctor in Italy.- The Montessori learning materials are divided into everyday life
materials ( this are very useful especially for children with special needs and psychomotor disorders and they are used by the children both at school and at home), material for the 5 senses perception (they include inputs and exercises for all the 5 senses, sound, touch, visual, taste and smell inputs. The coordination of the five senses through body movements or practical activities is also very important in the use of these materials.
- The stress on the role of the teacher as someone who accompanies almost serves, the children, the girls and the boys on their learning way, in their development as a human being in the respect of their nature, predispositions and skills. Part of the materials has to be prepared by the teacher them-self according to the essence of
Maria Montessori’s approach and methodology. This deep personal investment of time and attention is a plus in the quality of the materials and the quality of the personal relationship between teacher and pupil. The connection to self-prepared material easies the further development of the materials and the sharpness of the observation of the child. I interpret the stress Maria Montessori gave to the serving
and accompanying of the child as a reaction to the well-established tendency to indoctrinate that was usual in the school system during her lifetime, especially if we think that Maria Montessori began her psychological and observation work with children with cognitive and physical handicaps. She believed in their possibility to become independent in their way.
- In the spiritually based pedagogical approach, in the respect of the inner nature of the child which has to develop itself, within the concept of cosmic education, in the conscious trust that the child can find his/her strength by stilling the mind and getting into contact with the body. Maria Montessori created the activity of the time of silence. It can be described as a sort of pre-meditation exercise which stirs up silence and attentiveness to oneself and the others. It is made in a circle and it foresees few movements which slowly take the mind to stillness. It is left to the child what he/she does of this experience. Together with the polarized attention (state of deep concentration) in which the child can find himself/ herself by work with the learning materials, the time of silence is one of the pillars of the journey towards his/her nature of the child.
- In the interaction among mixed-age-groups which assure a non-coercive development of the social skills like empathy, overtaking of responsibilities for themselves, for others and for the group, the self-control in the name of respectful interaction with others, the acceptance of the individual differences in the behaviour and in the physical and cognitive skills, the cooperative work towards a common goal in which everyone contributes according to his/her interests, skills and abilities.
- The low teacher-pupil ratio which with the support of the materials and the child-meant environment enables the flexibility of the curriculum, the non-comparative evaluation, the positive directed mistakes control, which empowers the autonomy and the self- esteem of the child. Mrs Chandrika, stresses the importance for children with special needs, even with specific learning disorders, to start as early as possible the exercises with the learning materials. They ensure an improvement of the coordination of the sense’s perception through mind and body. What is interesting in the Montessori approach is that in the thinking of the learning process as an individual specific process for each child, also the specific learning disorders
and the learning disabilities are comprehended. We could say that every child had his/her own special and specific needs.