Today in Mighty Girl history, Maria Montessori, the Italian educator and physician who created the Montessori Method, was born in 1870. Montessori's educational philosophy of encouraging children's learning through discovery is now used in an estimated 30,000 schools worldwide.
Montessori grew up in Italy and enrolled in the University of Rome's school of medicine in 1893. As a woman, she faced hostility from both fellow students and professors, even being forced to perform dissections alone after hours as it was deemed inappropriate for her to attend classes with men in the presence of a naked cadaver. Despite the obstacles, she graduated in 1896 and set up a private practice.
Montessori rapidly became an advocate for both women's rights and the rights of children with disabilities. She regularly worked with children facing these challenges, and she was a major supporter of their right to access education. In 1901, she left her practice to engage in further study in psychology and educational philosophy, and began considering how to adapt the methods she used for general classroom use.
In 1906, Montessori was asked to oversee the education of children of working low-income parents in Rome. At first, it was outfitted like a standard classroom of the day, but as Montessori observed the children and provided them with the resources she had developed, she discovered that they preferred practical activities to toys and that, if they were given a free choice of activities, they would develop spontaneous self-discipline.
In response, Montessori decided to transform the traditional classroom: she replaced the large furniture with child-sized desks and chairs, put tools and activities on low, child-accessible shelving, and included more exercises that encouraged caring for the environment and the self, such as cooking, gymnastics, and care of pets, as well as practical activities such as sweeping, self-dressing, and hand washing. She also introduced literacy materials like moveable cutout letters and picture cards with labels, which resulted in her students becoming proficient in reading and writing far sooner than was expected with traditional methods.
Her Casa dei Bambini (Children's House) was a great success, and by 1907 another had been opened in Rome. The independence, concentration, and self-discipline of her students began attracting attention from journalists, politicians, and educators, and in 1909, Montessori held her first teacher training course. In 1911, Montessori methods had been adopted in Italian and Swiss public schools; by 1912, Montessori schools were being planned in places from Paris to India, and Montessori societies were founded in the US and UK. By the time she died in 1952, Montessori had revolutionized the way educators and parents thought about child development. Her legacy is obvious in both public school systems and in the Montessori schools that can be found around the world today.
To learn more about her work and educational philosophy, check out the insightful biography "Maria Montessori: Her Life and Work" at http://amzn.to/1u0EQA6
She is also the subject of a new picture book for ages 5 to 8: "Maria Montessori" at https://www.amightygirl.com/maria-montessori
For an excellent book that explores how parents can support children's holistic development, we highly recommend "The Parents We Mean To Be: How Well-Intentioned Adults Undermine Children's Moral and Emotional Development" at https://www.amightygirl.com/the-parents-we-mean-to-be
Many of the toys featured A Mighty Girl's toy section were selected with a similar philosophy to Maria Montessori's in mind -- we've sought out high-quality toys that would help children to exercise their imagination while mastering basic skills and growing confident in their abilities to be self-directed learners.
If you're new to A Mighty Girl, mouse over the "Toys' button on our main menu bar to open our toy directory which is divided into six main categories: Toys/Games, Imaginative Play, Arts/Crafts, Outdoor Play, For Baby, and Kids' Gear. To start exploring our selection of over 2,000 girl-empowering toys, visit https://www.amightygirl.com/toys