The programs and practices of Peace N Joy Academy Montessori School in Somerset, NJ are based on the philosophy and teachings of Maria Montessori, a pioneer educator and investigator of child development. Working in the first half of the 20th century, Dr. Maria Montessori is considered to be one of the most influential pioneers in early childhood education. She was the first woman to receive a medical degree in Italy. Through observations and working with children, Dr. Montessori discovered that children are innate learners and sensorial explorers. They learn best in a home-like environment with developmental appropriate materials. Dr. Montessori developed educational materials and methods based on her belief that children learn best by doing, not by passively accepting other people’s ideas and preexisting knowledge. She developed the most effective way to help children achieve their full potential.
Montessori is more than just beads and pouring, working on a mat, albums, and scope and sequences. It’s a whole philosophy based on seeing the child as a full, able, and independent person and cultivating an environment that allows the child freedom to explore and grow into their full potential.
Montessori saw the child not as an empty vessel waiting to be filled with a teacher’s knowledge, but as a being filled with life and wonder, possessing within the child all he or she needs to reach their full potential.
Children are not static, but active, eager explorers who pursue what interests as they take in the world around them. We often view the child as an empty vessel needing everything to be poured in and programmed, when really all we need to do is stir the waters and gently guide their course.
The prepared environment allows the child to develop without constant assistance and supervision from an adult.
All the furniture and work materials are sized right for children, giving them full freedom to move around and explore. This also allows the child to be more active and the teacher more passive. The environment does not contain unnecessary objects that hinder his development, nor does it contain materials that are broken or incomplete. The work material is kept out on the shelves and may be used by the child whenever they desire. Because the materials are always stored in the same place, the child can always locate them. It is part of the child’s work-cycle to return used material to its designated place in the classroom, so that others may use it. As part of the Practical Life activities, the children learn to keep their environment in order and generally clean and tidy. This also fulfills the child’s innate Sensitive Period for Order.
One of the main duties of the Montessori teacher is to keep the prepared environment in perfect, orderly condition.