At Fairbanks Montessori School, we allow children to learn at their own pace. Maria Montessori’s methods encourage children’s development through experiential learning during times of heightened interest, and our facilities and staff are dedicated to that philosophy to create a better world one student at a time.
Dr. Maria Montessori was the first woman in Italy to attend medical school and be certified as a medical doctor. After graduating from medical school, she began working with disabled children who were being cared for in asylums for insane adults. Montessori began studying the educational theories of Edouard Seguin and Jean Itard, and then returned to the university to study the major theories of education that had been developed over the prior 200 years.
In 1906, Montessori accepted a position caring for young children in a slum of Rome called San Lorenzo. She was named medical officer of the Casa dei Bambini, or “Children’s House”. Her first class consisted of around 50 children suffering from poverty and neglect, all of whom were being cared for by one inexperienced adult.
Montessori began her work by teaching the older children how to help with everyday chores. She also provided them with some of the same materials she had developed for the disabled children. Through careful observation of the children, she made adaptations to fit their needs. She had carpenters build child-sized chairs and tables that could be moved without adult assistance. She allowed the children to move freely around the room, and she brought mats so they could lie on the floor while doing their work. Dr. Montessori developed classroom materials that supported their learning in the five curriculum areas the children were naturally attracted to: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math, and Cultural.
Her teaching methods were extraordinarily successful. Her students excelled not only academically, but behaviorally as well. The children’s response to the environment Montessori provided resulted in a school community infused with learning and mutual respect.
Awareness of Montessori’s work spread across the globe. She received praise and support from many well-known individuals, including Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison. She was invited to the White House and lectured to capacity crowds at Carnegie Hall. After a lifetime of serving children, Maria Montessori died in Holland in 1952.
The team at Fairbanks Montessori is committed to the Montessori Method of teaching. The classrooms are organized into the five curriculum areas mentioned above with materials carefully ordered on the shelves. Children are observed carefully and lessons are given individually based on the teacher’s assessment of each child’s needs and abilities. Their knowledge is constantly enhanced through interactions with each other, and lessons carefully introduced, at the proper time and in the proper sequence.
the montessori method
The Whole-child Approach
The primary goal of a Montessori program is to help each child reach his/her full potential in all areas of life. Activities promote the development of social skills, emotional growth and physical coordination as well as cognitive preparation for future intellectual academic endeavors. The holistic curriculum, under the direction of a qualified teacher, allows the child to experience the joy of learning and gives him/her time to enjoy the process . It ensures the development of self esteem and provides the experiences from which children create their knowledge.
The Prepared Environment
Self-directed learning can only take place if the environment is suitably designed. This means that there are beautiful materials appropriate for every age that are placed at a low level for children’s accessibility. All furniture and materials are child sized, which includes tables, chairs, cleaning supplies, and more. The children are taught to keep their environment clean, and they learn to respect one another and their workspace. A professional Montessori teacher ensures that their class is both functional and aesthetically pleasing, and teaches their students to interact with their environment in a way that fosters peaceful focus. A Montessori classroom maintains a routine that makes children feel respected and secure, which allows them to learn and grow exponentially.
The Montessori Materials
Dr. Montessori designed a number of multi-sensory, sequential, and self correcting materials to facilitate learning in every area of the curriculum. Beginning with Practical Life, children learn fine-motor skills as well as self care and care of their environment. For their Sensorial development, Montessori designed materials to help children use their senses in different ways, such as experimenting with texture and weight, differentiating smells and sounds, and learning about colors. Montessori created a language curriculum that focuses first on learning the phonetic alphabet with sandpaper letters and the moveable alphabet while simultaneously using the metal insets to learn writing in a continuous line. It then moves on to building words, learning blends, and reading. The math program focuses first on learning numbers 1-10, then builds on that with teen numbers, 1:1 correspondence, and the hundred board. Montessori math often progresses to addition and subtraction, building thousands numbers, and even multiplication and division. Montessori's cultural materials includes, geography, science, history, art, and language. The children learn about continents, oceans, many different science subjects, world history, and even art theory.
Originally called a “directress”, the Montessori teacher functions as an educational guide, a designer of the environment, resource person, role model, demonstrator, record-keeper, and meticulous observer of each child’s behavior and growth. The teacher’s main function, once the classroom has been set up, is to engage each child with the materials in that classroom. Extensive training is required for full Montessori certification, including a minimum of college degree and a year’s student teaching under supervision. These teachers work tirelessly to help each child reach their highest potential.