What is the Montessori Method?
The Montessori method of education is more than just a set of nicely designed materials, and it is more than a few useful techniques. The Montessori method is a comprehensive approach to working with children based upon careful research which is passed on to teachers through training. It is a dynamic system of education in which each generation of teachers has the opportunity to pass on the knowledge gained through training and experience to future generations. It is a system of education where the best is kept and improvements are added and passed on. It has been used in different cultures and countries around the world and continues to be a very popular Method of teaching. But beyond this, the Montessori Method is a way of life -- it is a method of teaching that cultivates in each child a love for learning and gives them the confidence to tackle any challenge that they are faced with.
What are some of the main characteristics of the Montessori method?
The Montessori Method and Philosophy Explained - Why Choose Montessori?
- The Montessori method of education teaches to individuals instead of to groups. In many other classrooms, lessons are presented to the whole class and sometimes to small groups. In Montessori schools the general rule is reversed. Most of the time, the teacher presents lessons to individuals. Other children can watch if they are interested. In this way, the teacher can address the specific needs of a child and can respond to that individual child’s interest and level of understanding. The child does not have to sit through something that he or she is not ready for. This individual attention also helps the teacher to be much more familiar with each child. Thus, the teacher understands the child more fully and better provides for that child.
- Children learn through practicing tasks rather than through listening and having to memorize. In many non-Montessori classrooms children are expected to learn by listening to the teacher. Work is usually with paper and pencil. In a Montessori classroom, on the other hand, children learn by practicing with apparatus which embodies the concept to be mastered. For example, when learning about shapes such as triangles, squares, circles, etc., instead of listening to a teacher talk about the shapes and watching her draw them on a chalk board, Montessori students trace real figures and make designs. They fit different shapes together to make patterns. They make fine discriminations by fitting shapes into the correct corresponding holes.
- The Montessori curriculum is much broader than many other programs. The Montessori program teaches more than just curriculum basics. First of all, it has exercises to develop the child's fundamental capacities: his or her ability to control movement (motor development), and to feel and have emotions (affective or emotional development). In this way, the Montessori program helps the child become a competent learner. This develops independence and responsibility. In addition, the Montessori curriculum also helps the child develop a strong foundation in language and math, and an in-depth study of physical and cultural geography, zoology, botany, physical science, history and art. Children further learn practical skills for everyday life such as cooking, carpentry, and sewing. But more than this, they learn how to be contributing members of a social community.
- With regard to discipline, in a Montessori program the emphasis is on self-discipline developed through helping each child learn how to appropriately meet needs rather than discipline through the use of rewards and punishments.
- In a Montessori classroom the organization of the room allows children easy access to a variety of learning experiences. The room is specifically organized to appear attractive and orderly. Materials are displayed on shelves.
- The materials in a Montessori classroom are carefully designed and thoroughly researched to fit the developmental needs and characteristics of children.
- Montessori teachers are trained to teach respect and positive values through their modeling as well as through the way they teach.
- The Montessori method of helping a child is through a process of showing a child what to do in a positive manner. Montessori teachers attempt to avoid “put downs” or sarcastic comments, and try not to humiliate or embarrass the child.
- The Montessori program is systematic and carefully sequenced according to principles of development. Every activity is carefully thought out to build upon previous preparation and to lead the intelligence on to a higher activity.
- The Montessori program is designed to develop independence and responsibility. The organization of the classroom, the method of teaching, and the practical life lessons are oriented toward helping the child become a self-sufficient and disciplined individual.
- The routine of the Montessori program is based upon the principle of freedom of choice rather than set times for prescribed activities. Since everything in the Montessori environment is something planned that is worthwhile and educational, the child can be free to choose.
- In Montessori programs children are viewed as positive beings whose primary aim is the work of constructing an adult. Rewards and punishments, therefore, can only get in the way. Development and learning by themselves are adequate motivators. Likewise, children do not need to be appealed to through fantasy, bright colors, or gimmicks, as these things come between the child and real learning. Therefore, joy is discovered and experienced in the real world through the study of nature, science, math, music, reading, history and geography rather than in a world of comics, cartoons, and fantasy.
Experience and research both indicate that children attending Montessori schools tend to be competent, self-disciplined socially well adjusted, and happy.
Competence: Children in Montessori schools are often above grade level in their basic skills. Also, since the Montessori education is comprehensive; children are often exceptionally knowledgeable in a number of other areas as well.
Self Discipline: Montessori schools are well known for children’s development of self-discipline. Children choose to work long and hard. They treat materials and others with respect. They display patience and resistance to temptation and the ability to attend for long periods.
Social Adjustment: Montessori school children usually strike a visitor as friendly, empathetic, and cooperative. The classroom is a cheerful social community where children happily help each other. It is not uncommon to see a Montessori student offer to help another child in the classroom. Also, learning social grace and courtesy are a part of the Montessori curriculum.
Happiness: Most parents of children in a Montessori school comment on how much their children love school.
Children from a Montessori program are often several years ahead of grade level. They like school and are usually interested in everything. Typically, they are friendly, generous, cooperative, and respectful of both property and others.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Thursday, July 28, 2011.