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 – his self development. He desperately wants to develop his inner resources and his ability to cope with a strange, complex world. The child who accomplishes this moves into harmony with his 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 his senses, to stimulate his curiosity, to satisfy his need to know and to protect him 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 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 himself. His right to dignity and worth are protected.
The very young child is in the process of forming his first impressions of his 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 him.
The role of the Montessori Directress differs considerably from that of a traditional teacher. She observes and assists the child according to the child’s individual needs and interests. She is trained to recognize periods of readiness and to demonstrate the correct use of the material to the children. She reinforces in a positive manner. At times she may encourage a hesitant child. At other times, she may divert a child who chooses material beyond his ability. She protects 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. He is helped by the Directress’ manner, which is firm and consistent, yet patient and gentle.
Montessori Versus Daycare and Traditional Pre-School
- Montessori is Moving – the prepared environment. Montessori classrooms are prepared in advance based on observations of the students’ individual needs. At c'e Montessori they are prepared also with automatic feedback from our accountability systems. They include student-centered lessons and activities. Traditional classrooms and daycares are based on teacher-centered lessons or activities.
- We Learn on our Feet – Active Exploring. Montessori lessons are hands-on and active. Montessori three part lessons slowly transfer the onus onto the student after a brief explanation of the Montessori Material. Students discover information for themselves. Traditional school lessons are often orated to students who listen passively, memorize, and complete worksheets.
- We Learn through Failure, through trying, through time In the Montessori classroom, children work on lessons as long as need be, and interruptions are avoided whenever possible. Time limitations are mandated by arbitrary schedules and by the pace of other students in traditional classrooms.
- Our Teachers are Guides. Montessori teachers act as guides and consultants to students on a one-on-one basis. They assist each child along his or her own learning path. Traditionally, in daycare centers and other preschools the pace and order of each lesson is predetermined. The teacher must deliver the same lesson, at the same pace, in the same order, for all of the students.
- Different Ages Learning Together. In Montessori schools, “grade-levels” are flexible and determined by the child’s developmental range, i.e., 0-3, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12, 12-15, and 15-18 years of age. In traditional schools, grade levels are not flexible and strictly defined by chronological age within an arbitrary twelve-month period. Imagine for a minute what it means, for children as young as 3 to be grouped academically with students up to 11 months older than them and expected to do the same work. Imagine inversely, students 11 months older than others having to stop their progress to re-learn a lesson they were ready for almost a year ago.
- We Follow the Student, our Curriculum adapts to them. Montessori curricula expand in response to the students’ needs. As students progress in the c'e Montessori preschool curriculum they are allowed to discover more and more material. Traditional curricula are predetermined and often state mandated without regard to student needs.
- We Let our kids Move at their own Pace. The individual child’s work pace is honored and encouraged in the Montessori classroom. Traditional classrooms and Daycares expect all children to work at the same pace.
- Our Kids get to decide when they are Successful. Montessorians understand that the child’s self-esteem comes from an internal sense of pride in his or her own accomplishments. The ‘big’ work that is accomplished in our Montessori school is to allow that self-esteem and curiosity to grow unstifled. In traditional classrooms, self-esteem is thought to come from external judgment and validation. Rewards are given by teachers, by stars, by grades and students learn to slowly transfer their self-esteem to be dependent on those external factors.
- For the Love of Learning – Great Lessons. The Montessori preschool curriculum is intended to appeal to the child’s innate hunger for knowledge. Great Lessons are presented from the onset to continue to support and encourage creativity and curiosity. Children learn to love learning and to continue being curious. Traditional curricula focus on standardized test performance and grades. Children learn because it is mandatory. Even from an early age this kind of performance is triggered and championed in daycare centers and traditional classrooms.
- Change is Good. The Montessori Method was created by Maria Montessori and is based on a lifetime of study and observation with regard to the way children really learn. Here at c'e Montessori we respect the lessons of the prepared environment, the value of Montessori Materials and whole child development while pushing the boundaries of accountability and parent communications through technology. Traditional education is based on…well…tradition.