We have all used some kind of materials to work with at kindergarten or primary school but have you ever thought about the importance of the materials we used? Why is it so important to provide materials learners can work and learn with and at the same time enjoy ?
These questions, which we have seen have influenced many classrooms, were explored by the Italian educator Maria Montessori. She certainly left her mark on education, and her method is still used in many schools.
Maria Montessori believed that children learn directly from the environment, and from other children—rather than from the teacher. Children were to be scientifically observed, observations recorded and studied by the teacher. Children learnt from what they were studying individually, but also from the amazing variety of work that was going on around them during the day. When the environment meets all of the needs of children they become, without any manipulation by the adult, physically healthy, mentally and psychologically fulfilled, extremely well-educated. The teacher functions as a designer of the environment, resource person, role model, demonstrator, record-keeper and observer of each child's behaviour and growth, facilitating learning and providing a good working environment and sensorial materials. Furthermore, the Sensorial materials are also designed to indirectly prepare children for work in other curricular areas. For example, many of the Sensorial materials contain ten pieces which prepares children for the decimal system. The left-to-right, top-to-bottom order of most Sensorial presentations prepares the child for directionality in reading and writing.
Despite what many people think, Montessori’s method does not apply only to children, in fact she set useful guidelines for learners different ages. Taking everything into consideration, I believe that it is extremely important to create a have good working environment and to create activities that will help our learners to develop to their full potential and enjoy while they learn.