School should offer children more than just academic skills. It should help them grow into confident, independent, caring, and self-motivated people. The goal of Montessori education is to develop the whole person; someone who is more than the sum of their test scores.
Equally important to the Montessori experience is the growth of the child’s character. Montessori teachers strive to engender in the child a sense of responsibility and the connectedness of people and things. Children learn that their choices have consequences, not only in their immediate interpersonal relationships, but also in the world at large. By allowing safe consequences to flow freely from the child’s choice, he learns to exert control over himself to limit negative results and promote positive ones. This development of executive function, most particularly self-regulation, is at the core of the child’s drive towards confidence and independence.
The Montessori Method was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori in the early 1900s. It’s a specific child-centered method of education that involves child-led activities (referred to as “work”), classrooms with children of varying ages, and teachers who encourage independence among their pupils.
What is the Montessori Method?
Dr. Montessori believed that children learn better when they’re choosing what to learn and that philosophy is present in Montessori classrooms today. A Montessori classroom likely looks different than what you’re used to. Things that make it unique include:
Various activity stations for children to choose from throughout the day.
Teachers moving from group to group instead of standing at the front of the classroom.
A nontraditional grading system.
A focus on the whole student—social, emotional, intellectual, and physical development- is considered.
Important reasons to choose Montessori education
Montessori classrooms are beautifully crafted environments designed to meet the needs of children in a specific age range. Dr. Maria Montessori discovered that experiential learning in this type of classroom led to a deeper understanding of language, mathematics, science, music, social interactions, and much more. Most Montessori classrooms are secular, although the Montessori educational method can be integrated into a faith-based program.
Every material in a Montessori classroom supports an aspect of child development, creating a match between the child’s natural interests and the available activities. Children can learn through their own experience and at their own pace. They can respond at any moment to the natural curiosities that exist in all humans and build a solid foundation for life-long learning.
Maria Montessori profoundly respected children and the developmental powers that drive them to seek certain experiences. Montessori education reframes the adult/child relationship to place the child at the center of his own learning. In Montessori classrooms, teachers respect children as separate and unique individuals. They guide children to respect the people and objects in their environment, and as the child grows older, to respect and understand the connectedness between all living and non-living things, leading to the adolescent’s profound awareness of the complex web of human existence.
Montessori classrooms are interactive environments in which hands-on exploration is not only encouraged, it is necessary. By using the mind, the body, and the senses, learning becomes an activity that engages the whole self. Any parent will agree that children do; Montessori environments follow this natural inclination of children towards activity by offering an appropriate variety of objects and activities for meaningful engagement.
One of the most profound differences between Montessori education and conventional education is that, in Montessori, children are given the experience of discovering the answer for themselves. This leads to a much deeper learning experience and creates a lifelong love of learning as a self-directed process of problem-solving and discovery
A MONTESSORI-TRAINED ADULT
The trained Montessori teacher links the child to activities and experiences in the prepared environment. Specialized training results in a deep knowledge of child development, the purposes and use of each activity, and an understanding of how to foster and maintain social harmony in the classroom.
Montessori classrooms support the development of imagination and creativity at every stage of learning. The open-ended activities allow children to explore new ideas and relationships, providing a foundation for self-expression and innovation. In the early years, the building blocks of imagination are firmly established through sensory exploration of the world, launching both imagination and creative self-expression.
FREEDOM OF CHOICE
Maria Montessori recognized that when allowed freedom of choice within clear, firm, and reasonable boundaries, children act in positive ways that further their development. Freedom is frequently misunderstood, and many people take it to mean that children can do whatever they want. Montessori believed that freedom without boundaries was abandonment. In Montessori classrooms, expectations are clear, and children experience the natural and logical consequences of their choices. This freedom within limits allows for the natural development of self-regulation within the society of the classroom, as well as mirroring behaviors expected by society in general.
From the moment of birth onwards, humans strive towards independence. Children feel this need very strongly; they want to do things for themselves and to participate in the world around them. In Montessori classrooms, this natural drive towards independence is fostered through practical, social, and intellectual experiences. The child becomes an active agent in her own education, saying, “Help me to do it myself”. We honor this by helping children move to increasingly higher levels of independence and self-reliance.