Montessori is Moving
Humans were meant to move, exercise, explore. In Montessori this never stops. We allow our children to move, to discover, to think and learn on their feet. Lessons are short, sitting around is minimal. Walking around the classroom is encouraged, this is where spontaneous encounters occur, with a new friend, an interesting lesson, an opportunity, an obstacle.
Montessori is Manipulatives
The connections between our hands and our brains are crucial in strong early childhood development. Here, we learn through our hands using Montessori materials, we build our knowledge and our experience through touch. There are no screens, no handouts no lectures. The Montessori Method relies on a classroom that we interact with constantly by moving through it, touching it, and manipulating it. Maria Montessori said, "What the hand does, the mind remembers." If a child is able to use their hands to discover, their discoveries become more meaningful to them. The concepts they learn are much more rooted than any rote memorization could be, because in using their hands, they experience their learning. They are an active participant.
Montessori is Choice
Children like coming to school in the morning because they know the day is theirs. The choices that they make and the work that they explore is entirely up to them. Adults are there to guide. A relationship to learning and empowerment is developed from the very first day of school. Maria Montessori understood that all children, indeed all people, have different strengths and interests. The Montessori Method offers children the “freedom of choice” in order to maximize the learning process through these individual differences. Some people misunderstand “freedom of choice” to mean that children just do whatever they please and/or there is no such thing as discipline in a Montessori classroom. This is actually far from accurate. Through careful observation of the child, teachers (and parents) can provide the right activities and create the prepared environment ideal for the child’s development
Montessori is a Sequential Curriculum
Montessori classrooms hand over real agency to children by delivering a curriculum available to them through the prepared environment. While children follow their own path and can advance through the curriculum at their own pace their experiences are backed by a scaffolded and mastery-based closed system.
Math, Language, Sensorial, Practical Life, Cultural Geography and Sciences. All sequential, all available, so that the promise and power of an individualized curriculum owned by children is delivered each morning in the prepared classroom environment.
Montessori Education is both a philosophy of child development and a rationale for quality in that development. The special method, named for the Italian physician Maria Montessori, stresses the importance of the development of a healthy self-concept. Education, she believed, is a preparation for life, not merely a search for intellectual skills. The child has one intuitive aim – their self development. They desperately want to develop their inner resources and ability to cope with a strange, complex world. The child who accomplishes this moves in harmony with their world and becomes a full person.
The Montessori method pursues the fact that the mind of the very young child is absorbent and thus the environment should be prepared carefully to train their senses, to stimulate their curiosity, to satisfy their need to know and to protect them from unnecessary failure. Montessori’s philosophy and psychological principles led her to devise carefully graded series of self-teaching devices that are now commonly accepted and supported by current research. Each school typifies Montessori education through its concern for the environment, the child and the teacher.
Each Montessori school provides a precisely prepared Montessori environment which fosters satisfaction in learning by discovery and a joy in achievement. The climate and selected activities are prepared to interest and motivate the child and to protect him from unnecessary failure. The Montessori materials develop basic problem solving and observational techniques. The child begins in the concrete and manipulative materials and gradually works toward the abstract.
Montessori’s recognition of the importance of a stimulating environment as a means of “freeing the child’s potential” is now supported by a multitude of studies in early learning. The classroom is equiped with specially designed and sequenced materials which Dr. Montessori devised. These materials, together with highly trained guides and administrators, provide a classroom where the child is stimulated and challenged, but never pressured. In such a climate the child learns to feel good about themself. Their right to dignity and worth are protected.
The very young child is in the process of forming their first impressions of their own nature and ability; of other people; and of life in general – impressions that can last a lifetime. To reach the highest potential possible, the child must develop a healthy self-concept; wholesome attitudes and values; desirable skills and habits; independence and self-reliance; the ability to adjust and to think reflectively; as well as a sensitivity in human relationships and a curiosity and appreciation of nature and the world that surrounds them.
The role of the Montessori guide differs considerably from that of a traditional teacher. They observe and assists the child according to the child’s individual needs and interests. They are trained to recognize periods of readiness and to demonstrate the correct use of the material to the children. They reinforce in a positive manner. At times they may encourage a hesitant child. At other times, they may divert a child who chooses material beyond their ability. They protect the child’s integrity and allows the child to have the freedom of choice to make decisions. The child’s decisions are expected to reflect a sense of responsibility. They are helped by the Guide’s manner, which is firm and consistent, yet patient and gentle.