Dr. Maria Montessori was an Italian educator and the first female doctor in Italy. Early in the last century, she put forward an education method through contacting and observing children for a long time. It changed the way how people consider children education at that time and has a deep influence for the next several generations as well. Throughout her life, she dedicated herself to education. When she died in 1952, she was respected by the whole world.
Maria Montessori graduated from medical college in Roman University and then worked at Psychiatric clinic in Roman University, so she had a chance to contact mental disable children, and she found developing intelligence needs to use hands. According to the research of Itard and Sequin, she designed appropriate teaching materials to help these mental disable children, and then these children passed the examination for normal children that held in Rome, so she became very famous in that time. She wanted to know the possibility of this method used in normal children, she came back to Rome University to learn anthropology, psychology and pedagogy. Until 1907 Montessori set up the first Children’s House at Saint Laurent in Rome to develop more teaching materials to improve children’s potentials. At the same time she had understood the role of teachers in class through observation. In Children’s House, Montessori utilized this method on three to six-year-olds and got amazing results, so a lot of newspapers reported in European and visitors praised this kind of method. Children’s House was set up in many countries and they invited Montessori to open teacher’s training courses. Thus this shows Montessori method suits all the children in whole world.
According to the present distribution situation of Montessori education in the world, Montessori environment includes: A. Nido and Infant Community for 0-3 years old infants. B. Casa dei Bambini-Primary environment for 3-6 years old children. C. Casa dei Bambini-Elementary environment for 6-12 years old students. D．Secondary environment for 12-15 years old students which were especially called eral Kinder by Montessori.
Dr. Montessori observed and found that each person would surely experience four special development periods: Infancy life from 0-6, Childhood from 6-12, Adolescence from 12-18 and Maturity from 18-24. Each stage has its own specific development target. People have common sensitivities in the same period, which help them follow specific ways and achieve goals quickly. So only gathering the children in the same stage in the same environment, educators can create an explored environment which suits for children’s targets and characteristics in this period. In a mixed age environment, the age difference facilitate children to help and learn from each other rather than compete. Children can find their past or future growth tracks on others. So during the development of children’s personalities, mixed age environment provides various positive social interactions.
It is especially emphasized by Montessori that the children's learning is spontaneous and free chosen. They are responsible for themselves and grown up by themselves. The lead teacher’s duty is “to observe child, understand child and follow child” rather than “to teach child”. Montessori has repeatedly stressed that it is “Prepared Environment". Therefore it called "Montessori Environment," or "Children's House".
Montessori environment is based on children’s needs and development. It provides a programmed, humanized, free and open space for children’s learning and growth. Real-life style activities take place in the environment. In prepared environment, the lead teachers can guide children after observing children’s interests, pace and needs and let the children explore and learn spontaneously. Children have different kinds of freedoms that they can work independently. They learn how to respect themselves, others and the environment. In the mixed age group, children can use a way which is different from adults to observe and learn each other so that further enhance interpersonal relationships in the modern society. The natural love education nurture the unusual EQ level on children. It lays the foundation for pre-school children to learn everything.