"He (the student) does it with his hands, by experience, first in play and then through work. The hands are the instruments of man's intelligence." Maria Montessori
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Montessori Method of education is a philosophy by Dr. Maria Montessori. The essence of Montessori education is that it is based on Experiential Learning. In simple terms, experiential learning is nothing but learning by doing. It is the process of learning through experience. She strongly believed that what a hand does, a mind always remembers. The concepts that the children learn by doing and observing are more rooted in their memories than the ones which are learnt through memorization.
Experiential Learning can be started when a child is a baby. One doesn't need fancy materials to teach a baby about the different concepts. Give them different materials. Let them explore and feel the texture. This sharpens their sensory skills. It also helps them to strengthen their finger muscles as they hold and grasp different materials in their hands.
In the recent years, all over the world, in most schools kindergarten classrooms have been restructured. They no longer have rows of desks with a teacher teaching the concepts on a white board. They have been restructured to small seating groups, called "table groups" or "flexible seating". The children are given the freedom to choose where ever they want to sit and work in the classroom. This gives them the freedom of space and movement. they are not bound to sit at one place throughout the day.
Experiential Learning does not only apply to schools and classrooms.
Using hands is the core of the Montessori curriculum. All subjects like languages, math, science and art can be taught by using hands.
- Abacus is a great way to teach addition to children.
- The concept of velocity can be taught by using marshmallow on a spoon.
- Literacy can be taught by showing pictures and flash cards.
- The children are taught use pick up their toys and clean the space after they have finished the task. This helps them to take care of the environment and also strengthens their hand muscles to write.
- Building a tower with blocks, helps in improving the precision skills of the children.
This can be implemented at home too. One needs to provide different materials for the child to explore, understand and use the different materials with their hands to observe the results.
Involve them in the kitchen. Give them the simple tasks of setting the table , peeling boiled potatoes, filling water glasses for everyone in the family, watering the plants.
These activities not only help them learn various life skills but also makes them happy, confident and responsible.
It is never too late to start. One can start from today itself. No fancy materials are required to teach children by learning through doing. The only materials that they require is their hands and your support!.