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Updated: 8/11/2003 11:11 pm Published: 8/11/2003 11:11 pm

Montessori methods of teaching were developed in 1907 by Maria Montessori, a medical doctor, educator, and anthropologist. Ms. Montessori believed childhood is a time of constant mental activity, and with no formal education, children can be directed in their own natural interests to become cultured and educated by the age of twelve. Montessori classrooms contain learning stations with specially developed equipment called 'didactic (die-dack-tick) materials.' This equipment replaces toys in helping children explore and discover their environment. Montessori methods for learning don't include formalized instruction, but are self-paced and essentially self-taught at the child's discretion. Another way Montessori methods differ from standard education is in the teacher's role. Montessori teachers are called directors, because they are there to direct the children's learning paths, rather than instruct them. Directors commit to staying with a class for up to seven or eight years, providing the students with security and trust, as well as in-depth knowledge of each individual child. This can be essential in directing their self-paced education. For more information on Montessori methods, contact a center near you.

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