The Senses & The Intelligence

“Montessori is an education for Independence

preparing a child not just for a school but for Life”

– Dr. Maria Montessori

Man works with the help of his intelligence. His intelligence guides him. But before his intelligence can act in the environment, he has to know his environment. This information about his environment is important as it helps him to plan his activities.  But the intelligence cannot gather information on its own. This information is brought in by man’s senses. Hence, the senses are gateways to the intelligence.

At birth, a baby has many, many more neurons than it will use as an adult (100 billion); the baby also has more synapses (connections between neurons). A baby’s experiences with his parents/caregivers and his social and physical environment help “prune” and select only those connections that are being used. The connections that are used become strengthened and form neural pathways, similar to pathways formed when more people walk in the same path.

For more neural pathways to be formed, the child should have more experiences with the involvement of all his senses. This is where the Montessori environment can play an important part in your child’s early years.  It provides children with materials that stimulate all the senses, an environment of security, where they feel safe to explore, as well as an environment of love and care with a lot of interaction between adults and peers, so that your child’s development in all the areas- physical, motor, social, cognitive, language and emotional, is balanced.

About Dr. Maria Montessori

Dr. Maria Montessori (August 31, 1870 – May 6, 1952) was an Italian physician and educator.  Dr. Montessori graduated from the University of Rome in 1896 as the first female doctor of medicine in Italy. Through her medical practice she came in direct contact with young children and began to study their development. Her intensive study and research led her to develop methods and materials which in turn led her to realize that interaction between the child and his environment  led to the constructive development of childs personality

In 1906 Dr. Montessori was invited to oversee the care and education of a group of children of working parents in a new apartment building for low-income families in the San Lorenzo district in Rome. The name Casa dei Bambini, or Children’s House, was suggested to Dr. Montessori, and the first Casa opened on January 6, 1907, enrolling about 50 children between the ages of two to seven years.

In this first classroom, Dr. Montessori observed behaviours in these young children which formed the foundation of her educational method. She noted episodes of deep attention and concentration, multiple repetitions of activity, and a sensitivity to order in the environment. Given free choice of activity, the children showed more interest in practical activities and Dr. Montessori’s materials than in toys provided for them, and were surprisingly unmotivated by sweets and other rewards. Over time, she saw a spontaneous self-discipline emerge.

Based on her observations, Dr. Montessori implemented several practices that became hallmarks of her educational philosophy and method. She replaced the heavy furniture with child-sized tables and chairs light enough for the children to move, and placed child-sized materials on low, accessible shelves. She expanded the range of practical activities such as sweeping and personal care to include a wide variety of exercises for care of the environment and the self

She felt by working independently, children could reach new levels of autonomy and become self-motivated to reach new levels of understanding. Dr. Montessori also came to believe that acknowledging all children as individuals and treating them as such would yield better learning and fulfilled potential in each child. Also based on her observations, Dr. Montessori experimented with allowing children free choice of the materials, uninterrupted work, and freedom of movement and activity within the limits set by the environment. She began to see independence as the aim of education, and the role of the teacher as an observer and director of children’s innate psychological development.

The first Casa dei Bambini was a success, and a second was opened on April 7, 1907. The children in her programs continued to exhibit concentration, attention, and spontaneous self-discipline, and the classrooms began to attract the attention of prominent educators, journalists, and public figures. In the fall of 1907, Dr. Montessori began to experiment with teaching materials for writing and reading. Four- and five-year-old children engaged spontaneously with the materials and quickly gained a proficiency in writing and reading, far beyond what was expected for their age.

By 1912, Montessori schools had opened in Paris and many other Western European cities, and were planned for Argentina, Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Switzerland, Syria, the United States, and New Zealand.

Dr. Montessori’s books were widely translated and published in various languages all over the world.