Kalker Montessori Centre The Children's House
Pre School Student

Maria Montessori - Educational Pioneer

The Kalker Montessori Centre, Bulleen, is one of over 120 pre-schools throughout Australia offering children an education based on the principles of Dr. Maria Montessori. One of the 20th century's most dynamic women, Maria Montessori (1870 -1952) began her career by overcoming formidable opposition to graduate as Italy's first female doctor. She subsequently developed ideas on childhood education that have had a profound impact on modern education theory and practice.

Specialising in child psychiatry, Montessori began her work with mentally retarded children in public institutions. Observing them playing with crumbs of food, she discerned an innate potential for learning through sensory experience. Attempting to reach them, she developed equipment and techniques that within 2 - 7 years enabled them to pass public examinations in reading and writing alongside 'normal' children. Although this achievement brought her international acclaim, it was considered by Montessori as a reflection of the inadequacy of traditional approaches to the education of normal children rather than a tribute to her innovative method.

Maria Montessori - Educational Pioneer

Her ideas were further developed by work she undertook with children who were of normal intelligence but from a deprived background. At first unruly and uncooperative, the slum children in her charge gradually became interested in the teaching materials she developed for them. Her day-care Centre in Rome became known as the Casa dei Bambini (Children's House). It contained much of the equipment that is still used in the Montessori classrooms around the world.

This included child-sized tables and chairs, wooden blocks into which cylinders of different sizes were inserted, lacing and buttoning frames, and cut-out letters of the alphabet for the children to finger and trace. Under the guidance of the Director, the children were free to choose their own activities and observers marvelled at the concentration, self esteem and respect for others that they exhibited, as well as their skills in literacy and numeracy. Montessori's fame spread and she elaborated her ideas in a book, The Montessori Method. The techniques that emerged through her work with disadvantaged children resulted in a program which recognises the importance of sensory experience to all children in alignment with their developmental maturity.

Montessori kindergartens were set up throughout Europe, the United States of America, India and South East Asia. Her ideas, endorsed by the influential child psychologist and educator Jean Piaget, have become part of mainstream educational thinking.

Kalker Montessori Centre 1-3 Estelle Street Bulleen, 3105 Ph: (03) 9850 3500 - Webmaster - Finlaysons IT