What is the Montessori Method?
The basic principle of the Montessori philosophy of education is that all children carry within themselves the person they will become. In order to develop the physical, intellectual, and spiritual potential to the fullest, the child must have freedom - a freedom achieved through order and self-discipline. The primary goal of a Montessori program is to help each child reach the fullest potential in all areas of life and to create a secure, loving and joyful environment in which the child can learn, grow, and become independent. It strives to educate each child to acquire self-esteem and a positive attitude towards learning.
The program includes individualized teaching, self-corrective materials, as well as a stimulating and non-pressured environment. The lessons are individual and brief. Another characteristic of the lesson is its simplicity. The third quality is objectivity.
Dr. Montessori developed what she called a "prepared environment" that is prepared by the teacher, while children make decisions within the Environment. The teacher is often called the directress or guide, who directs the activities and offers stimulation to the child; but it, is the child who learns and is motivated through the work and his desire to learn. All these activities help the child develop an "inner discipline" which is the core concept of the Montessori philosophy.
Why is the classroom called an environment?
Everything in a Montessori classroom is geared to the child, creating a child-sized world. The furniture in the classroom is properly sized for the child. The materials are proportionate, fitting easily to the child's hand. They are also proportionate to his abilities, not overly simple, challenging but never presenting an impossible goal.
The teacher carefully prepares this environment to give the child a safe place in which to explore, experiment, and learn. The tailored environment allows the child to proceed at his/her own pace
What is the basic difference between the Montessori environment and the traditional classroom?
Traditional schools use predominately a group format: All the children are taught the same educational concept at the same time. Children of one age group spend most of their time sitting and watching an adult teach and reveal knowledge.
In a Montessori class, from toddler to high school, the children often have an age difference of three years. The class operates on the principle of freedom within limits. The children work directly with Montessori materials of their own, choosing individually or in small groups most of the time, rather than being dependent upon or demanded by a teacher's directions.
How does it work? From simple activities to more complex ones. The child's natural curiosity is satisfied as he/she continues to experience the joy of discovering the world around him/her.
Does the Montessori Method restrict the child's creativity?
No. In fact, the very foundation of the Montessori approach is based on the recognition of the child's creativity and his need for an environment that encourages rather than limits this creativity. Music, art, storytelling, movement and drama are part of the Montessori program. But there are also other things specific to the Montessori environment that encourages creative development and the opportunity for both verbal and non-verbal modes of learning.
How much freedom is allowed in the Montessori classroom?
‘Freedom within limits’. A number of ground rules help preserve the order of the classroom as the children move about. For example, the children are free to move around the classroom at will, to talk to other children, to work with any material they understand. They are allowed to choose where they would like to work and for how long, or to ask the teacher to introduce new material to them. However, a child is not allowed to interfere with other children at work or to mistreat the material that is so important to the child's development
What does the teacher do?
The Montessori teacher or directress as she is often called, gives individual and group lessons, providing guidance where needed. The teacher spends much of her time observing each child, preparing the environment according to their needs and protecting their self-development. The method of teaching is indirect in that it neither imposes upon the child as in direct teaching, nor abandons the child as in non-directive, permissive approaches. Rather, the teacher is constantly alert to the direction in which the child has indicated he wishes to go, and actively works to help the child achieve his goals
What does it do for the child?
Observers of the Montessori children have described them as having developed self-discipline, self-knowledge, and independence, as well as enthusiasm for learning, an organized approach to problem-solving and academic skills. These children tend to be well-rounded individuals who understand their importance within their community and relate in positive ways to their natural surrounding
How can a "Real" Montessori classroom be identified?
An authentic Montessori classroom must have the following basic characteristics at all levels; a classroom atmosphere which encourages social interaction for cooperative learning, peer teaching and emotional development; teachers educated in the Montessori philosophy and methodology for the age level they are teaching; multi-aged students, and a diverse set of Montessori materials, activities and experiences which are designed to foster physical, intellectual, creative and social independence.
Do children have trouble adjusting to public school after Montessori school?
The Montessori children are able to cope with conditions they encounter when transferring to the public-school classroom. Most likely this is because they have developed a high degree of self-motivation and independence in the Montessori environment along with their innate ability to adapt to new situations. The strong foundation created in the environment by role-modelling helps reinforce an early transition into another learning environment. In general, they adjust to the new classroom well but do best in those classes which encourage discovery and individual rates of learning