Maria Montessori (Italy, 1870) was one of the most inspiring visionaries in the field of education. She is famously known for rethinking both the role of the teacher in the classroom, as well as the classroom itself. In a Montessori environment the children - and not the teacher - are the center of attention and they learn with age-specific educational materials, originally designed by Dr. Montessori herself.
The teachers in a Montessori school are often called Guides. The guides do not impart knowledge to the group, but approach children offering “lessons” one-on-one or in small groups, and then step back to observe. Hence, a crucial skill of all guides is the attentive observation of the children at work. This continual feedback then enables the guide to assess the children's evolving interests, mastery of skills, and consolidation of information.
These engaging learning materials are tailored to each of a child’s stages of development and are easily accessible to them on low, open shelves to inspire autonomous work. The children learn to care for their environment and keep the materials orderly, while it is the guide’s responsibility to prepare the environment so that it meets the children’s developmental needs. A learning environment that is properly prepared creates serenity.
By working with particular materials over the course of weeks or months, the child becomes aware of his or her own powers to solve problems and to complete tasks. Having these experiences in a calm environment, the child discovers the pleasure of learning.
The impact of Montessori's innovations on the way children learn has been so profound that schools all over the world have been adopting it for the last 100 years. To uphold and safeguard the standards of schools following the method and the quality of the training of its guides worldwide, Dr. Montessori established Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) in 1929.
At Madrid Montessori we are firmly committed to AMI principles and standards. All the guides at our school are AMI diploma holders. In order to be a qualified guide in a Montessori environment, a candidate must complete a rigorous training program with contents including: the necessary pedagogical tools,the in-depth study of the psychological and physical development of children, the practice of respectful observation, and the self-reflection that is required of all guides.
Official AMI accreditation exists only for schools located in the United States. For this reason, there are schools all over the world that have opted to use the Montessori name, however they are not required to follow Dr. Montessori’s principles and standards in order to do so. At Madrid Montessori, we follow thecore educational philosophy in accordance with AMI accreditation.
In any AMI school, the basic minimum requirements would include:
- Guides with AMI formal training
- Materials on shelves in full reach of the children
- Mixed-aged classrooms
- Uninterrupted 2.5 - 3 hour-work cycles
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