Recognising the significance of sound upbringing and education, the Cano Koprivica Foundation has launched the creation of a Montessori programme for preschool-age children within the "Zvono" (Bell) Montessori Nursery School pilot project. The programme was accepted by the Bureau for Schooling of Montenegro and the National Council for General Education of the Republic of Montenegro.
A unique dimension of preschool education is in the fact that it is an essential determinant of a person's personality. It is well-known that pupils who start primary school with already better knowledge as a rule keep this advantage throughout their later schooling. Today we can already recognise the nations and countries which have created this starting advantage in the education of their citizens in the way that they have effectively organised the preschool education of children.
The concept of preschool education should be understood as part of the complete influence on upbringing which is exerted from a child's birth to the day he/she starts school. Upbringing is a concept which in itself also contains educational influences. In relation to educational influences, upbringing should be understood first and foremost as an intentional and organised process.
On the basis of the fact that Montenegro adopted in 2010 the Strategy for Preschool Education and Upbringing (2010-2015) which regards the system of preschool education and upbringing as the level of education which a child first encounters, and one of great significance for overall growth and development, as well the formation of the child's personality, conditions are put in place for a programme such as the Montessori programme, which supports a humanistic concept of preschool education and upbringing, which is in line with the democratic values of Montenegro and is a response to the education reform processes in Europe.
Some of the key characteristics of this concept relate to: an integrated approach, the openness of the system and also the diversification of the programme (which is a result of the different needs and interests of children and parents). Starting with new tendencies, particularly the diversification of programmes and models, the process of introducing and developing a Montessori programme has been started through the pilot project whose aim is to guarantee access to quality preschool education of children.
Maria Montessori's first Children's House started work in 1907 as "Casa dei Bambini" in Rome. Within three or four years of its establishment, it had spread into Western Europe, and after a short time also appeared in the United States. After several decades, Montessori kindergartens were present on all continents. In times of dictatorship, it was constantly discriminated against and aggravated, but was always gladly accepted in countries where humanistic understanding and democracy ruled, where the child was at the centre of interest, and where peace was considered a precious commodity which should be protected.
Montessori education methods have been established for over a hundred years in the educational systems of Europe and are an important component in forming manners and attitudes towards the children, as well as of overall upbringing and education.
Today the Montessori programme is a worldwide recognised pedagogical concept in education, which has been experiencing a renaissance since the eighties. It is based on the philosophy of the development of the child, according to which children develop operative knowledge in the areas of life in which they will take part as adults. Montessori pedagogy represents a comprehensive and original educational system, which emphasises the significance of a child's own activity and individual tempo of development, and has a unique approach in its teaching technique. The emphasis is not on teaching the child, but rather securing a supportive environment which raises the child's natural curiosity and enables children through play to spontaneously learn by exploring.
Maria Montessori's education methods are founded on scientific study of spontaneous teaching of children, on encouraging the child's own activity and independence, and on respecting the child's personality.
With Montessori pedagogy the following basic Montessori principles, unique on all continents according to the guidelines of the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), the organisation which Maria Montessori herself founded, which has its headquarters in the USA. The organisation was founded in order to preserving, spreading and developing further the ideas and principles of Maria Montessori for the complete development of human beings.
Through AMI the high quality of teaching Montessori principles is guaranteed. In the world, there is a whole series of different institutions, at the international and national levels which teach Montessori principles. Many of them have been associated since 1991 with AMI and MACTE – the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education – the council responsible for accrediting the education of Montessori teachers. Montessori teaching methods are taught by AMI trainers, who satisfy the high MACTE criteria for teachers.
AMI permits slight changeability and openness of the programme according to the conditions in individual countries.
Today, all over the world it is possible to study Montessori theory and developed Montessori practice for ages from birth to 18, and to be equipped as a Montessori teacher.
A preschool institution with an adapted Montessori programme follows a mandatory plan and programme. The modern tendency of preschool education and upbringing is going towards a global development of the child's personality, which has his/her own capacities and limits, his/her distinctive accumulation of experiences – which determines his/her personal tempo of development.
With the existing concept of preschool education and upbringing in Montenegro and the adapted Montessori programme, preschool children are enabled to follow their own personal development, to develop their skills and to establish interaction with their environment, just as the general aim of preschool education is also determined, to enable children to follow their own programme and lead them towards knowledge. This type of concept of preschool education enables the conditions for the development of all potentials of children, their growing up and fulfilling the needs based on the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and is in line with the general and specific aims and principles of the Strategy of Preschool Education and Upbringing in Montenegro (2010-2015).