What is Montessori?
Montessori is a perspective about the child, that recognizes that he is eager to learn and that in fact, he has the capacity to initiate learning when he is able to experience an environment that is stimulating, supportive and carefully prepared to foster such learning.
Montessori is an approach that seeks to develop the whole personality and the human spirit of the child, making optimum use of the sensitive periods and planes of development.
Montessori is child-centered and was based on scientific observations from birth to adulthood. It has an impressive track record of success in a variety of cultures, and across time.
Montessori, above all, values the human spirit and fosters the emotional, physical, social and cognitive development of the child.
About the Montessori Classroom and Teaching Method
Our Montessori classrooms are designed with the child in mind. A true Montessori environment is a warm, open, spacious place where your child feels like they are at home. When your child feels comfortable in expressing themselves, they are able to interact freely with the materials and learn at their own pace. The classroom has many activities for the child to learn from: by themselves, in groups, inside, outside, on furniture, and even on the floor. The rooms items are scaled to fit the child’s size, including the furniture, shelves, and Montessori materials themselves in order to foster this level of comfort. You will not find a chalkboard and a teacher standing in the center or front of the classroom; rather all of the students and the activities they do are the focus for the teacher to interact and adapt with. Bright colors, attractive natural materials, intriguing cultural objects, and interesting images intrigue the children to ask questions and play to learn about the world and what it has to offer the child in the complex sensory and intellectual understanding. The goal for when a child first enters the Montessori classroom is for them to be intrigued by there surroundings and feel curious to explore; gaining a sense of belonging and want to be in the classroom.
Children are taught in the Montessori classroom how to manage their social interactions with others. Through fun hypothetical situations, the teacher demonstrates appropriate ways to respond to stimulating circumstances from others in a way that promotes positive social interaction between the child and the stimulant and teaches them to act confidentially when an actual situation occurs. The end goal in the Montessori classroom is to instill this principle in each child as to foster an autonomous classroom where the problems that arise are managed by the children themselves with little to no teacher intervention.
The children move freely throughout the environment, interacting with what interests them and are aided by the teacher but encouraged to explore and question. This desire to understand a topic from the child enables long-term memory retention on the topic as opposed to being taught a topic the student may not be interested in. Their overall movements are unrestricted by the teacher unless it becomes an endangerment to the learning environment or anyone in the environment. As such, the learning does not only happen inside the classroom, but the outdoor environment is also a critical area for the child to explore and learn by themselves and with others.
More information on the infrastructures within the campus and how the help execute our pedagogical practice can be found on the infrastructure page.
Who was Maria Montessori?
Maria Montessori was an Italian physician, educator, and innovator, acclaimed for her educational method that builds on the way children naturally learn. She opened the first Montessori school—the Casa dei Bambini, or Children’s House—in Rome on January 6, 1907. Subsequently, she traveled the world and wrote extensively about her approach to education, attracting many devotees. There are now more than 22,000 Montessori schools in at least 110 countries worldwide. Click on this link http://www.biography.com/people/maria-montessori-9412528 for complete information related to her life and achievements.
Today, the Montessori Method is recognized to be a learning system and an approach for life that was well ahead of its time, as it is as relevant today if not more than ever, and recognized as one of the best approaches to educate and nurture the whole human being.
How Does Montessori Work?
Maria Montessori observed that the child learns effortlessly and absorbs knowledge from its environment and develops skills from experience. The main finding from her observation is that children learn on their own, in a natural and independent way. Examples of this are how we learn to talk or walk when we are babies. Dr. Montessori wondered what would happen if this ease and eagerness for learning and acquiring skills could be applied to other areas such as mathematics, language, science. With this in mind, she developed a complete curriculum and a full set of materials, which are manipulative, attractive and sequentially designed for learning.
The materials are placed in very specific order and are accessible to the child, so as to spark their interest. With her approach the child is given the freedom within limits to choose his work, and stay with it until the skill is mastered or the knowledge is acquired, in order to move to the next material and do more “work” as it is called in the Montessori environment.
Teachers as Guides
Teachers act more as guides than teachers in the traditional sense, thus they are called “guides” or “directors/directresses”. In order to understand how to guide the children and what to do in a Montessori classroom full of manipulative materials, teachers must complete a rigorous training by a certified training institution such as Association Montessori Internationale (AMI).
The classrooms are arranged in such a manner that they replicate a home environment: rugs, a couple of small reading sofas, small individual or group tables paced strategically in the room. Each component, the flow of the room, the placement of materials and furniture, all of it is prepared purposely ahead of time to foster the acquisition of specific skills.
Discipline under this approach is understood as self-discipline, the ability to understand the limits of their freedom, to concentrate in his work, to respect the work of others. Discipline is not understood as the ability of the child to be quiet and immobile in class.
Mixed age environments
Classrooms are purposely multi-age, and a balance of children’s ages is carefully sought. Children learn from one another by observing and interactive. Younger ones learn higher cognitive and social skills, by observing others as models. Older children solidify their knowledge by teaching younger. They also develop a sense of community and learn to respect others as individuals. They learn that they don’t have to be all the same, and this lends itself to inclusion of children across the range of developmental and educational.
Montessori in the News
In the face of the crisis of the public educational systems and private schools, a Montessori education offers a time-tested approach to nurture and develop the fullest potential of who the child can become.
Montessori is more relevant today than ever, in a culture of youth violence and disconnection, the Montessori child grows in consciousness, mindfulness and respect of herself and her surroundings, maintains and grows in her desire for learning, learns how to research and find information that is needed and relevant, develops social and emotional skills to deal with conflict resolution, learns how to work in teams of people of different backgrounds and skill levels; masters leadership and self discipline skills through practice over the years of being in multi age environments which makes her the youngest who follows an older child, or the oldest who is the leader of the group.
All of the above are the abilities and skills required for a fulfilling family, personal and professional life.
We have collected a small sample of videos and articles that support the above statements. Please watch and read, and let us know if we can expand or show you Montessori in action at our school.
Montessori Madness: A Parent-to-Parent Argument for Montessori Education [Trevor Eissler]
Good at doing things: Montessori Education and Higher Order Cognitive Functions (Steve Hughes, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology, University of Minnesota Medical School)
Montessori Education Provides Better Outcomes Than Traditional Methods, Study Finds
Forbes Magazine: Montessori is an example of the new culture of learning
Google founders talk Montessori
Sergey Brin talks about his Montessori education