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Successful applications of montessori methods with children at risk for learning disabilities


The critical elements in the Montessori philosophy are respect for the child, individualization of the program to that child, and the fostering of independence. With her research background, Maria Montessori devised a multisensory developmental method and designed materials which isolate each concept the teacher presents to the child.

In presenting these materials the teacher observes the concept and skill development level of the child, ascertaining areas of strength and weakness and matching the next presentation to the child’s level of development. Using small sequential steps, the teacher works to ameliorate weakness and guide the student to maximize his strengths. These presentations, usually initiated by the child, enhance cognitive growth using a process which integrates his physical, social, and emotional development.

The curriculum contains four major content areas: Practical Life; Sensorial; Oral and Written Language; and Mathematics. Geography, History, Science, Art, Music, Literature, and Motor Skills are also included. In all of these the Montessori presentations build from the simple to the complex, from the concrete to the abstract, and from percept to concept. Vocabulary and language usage are integral to each presentation.

The procedures introduced through these presentations are designed to enhance attention, increase self-discipline and self-direction, and to promote order, organization, and the development of a work cycle. At-risk children benefit from the structure, the procedures, and the curriculum. Applications of this method require more teacher selection of materials and direct teaching, particularly of language and math symbols and their manipulations.

This early childhood intervention provides an individualized program which allows the at-risk child a successful experience at the preschool level. The program includes a strong conceptual preparation for later academic learning and it promotes the development of a healthy self-concept.

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Pickering, J.S. Successful applications of montessori methods with children at risk for learning disabilities. Annals of Dyslexia 42, 90–109 (1992).

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  • Motor Skill
  • Oral Language
  • Dyslexia
  • Practical Life
  • Word Pattern