We would like to show you how children with special needs influenced Maria Montessori as well as affected the development of her educational philosophy and how Montessori education can help these children to reach their potential.
Maria Montessori was the first woman who received a medical degree in Italy. She began her wok at the Psychiatric Clinic in Rome, being responsible for visiting insane asylums to select young subjects for the clinic.
She soon developed a deep interest in children with learning disabilities, but she also observed that their environments had very little to offer for stimulation of the development of their thinking.
Later on, Maria Montessori was named a co-director of the school for mentally challenged children. She methodically studied her disabled students. Through her observations, she understood what activities were successful in helping her students to develop academics skills and independence. Therefore, becoming convinced of the value of manipulative materials and age-appropriate sensory stimulation in helping them to learn, she created a very different environment.
She developed her educational material based on the French doctors Itard and S'guin, whom have been working with handicapped children in the 19th century. She was fascinated by their work. Itard based his work on scientific approach to learning. His observations and experiments led him to conclusion that normal human growth has certain developmental phases. S'guin created physical and sensory activities to develop mental processes.
The new environment empowered her disabled students to take care of themselves and to learn sufficient skills to pass a public examination for 'normal' children. Her great success with these disabled children earned her broad recognition. Maria Montessori had become a strong proponent for educating children with disabilities and she initiated a reform in the treatment and education of mentally handicapped children. These results proved her that the public schools should be able to achieve much better results with children of normal intelligence. (you may read article from Montessori International Magazine: Impact of Montessori).
In 1907 Maria Montessori established a center in the slums of Rome for preschool children who were left unsupervised while their parents worked. These children exhibited generally aggressive and impatient behaviour. She applied her work here and continued to develop her philosophy and methodology. She approached their education as a scientist, using the classroom as her laboratory for observing children and finding ways to help them to achieve their full potential. Maria Montessori studied these children and recognized their need for stimulation, purposeful activity as well as self-esteem and learned what methods worked best for them.
She set up activities similar to what she used with her mentally handicapped children and was surprised by how they were drawn to the materials. Children who had wandered aimlessly around the classroom began to settle down for long periods of constructive activity. They were fascinated by her materials and took great pride in the independence and skills they acquired. She developed further materials in a carefully prepared environment, which provided the children with space for their developmental needs and established an educational philosophy, which is internationally respected and practiced today.
As the roots of Montessori education are coming from observation and education of handicapped children, it is only very natural that Montessori environment provides these children with great stimulation and support.
With kind permission and courtesy of Montessori International Magazine, we would like to introduce you various areas where children with special needs may benefit from Montessori educational philosophy and carefully structured Montessori environment:
If you would like to get more information about Montessori International Magazine, you may visit their website.
We are working together in partnership with Community Living Toronto in order to intensify and support the successful inclusion of children with special needs. This can include development delay, social, emotional, behavioral and physical challenges.
In case we have enrolled a child who has any difficulties and special needs, parents may apply for support from the professionals from Community Living Toronto as child psychologist, speech therapist, behavior specialist and others.