What is the Montessori Method of education?

Montessori is an educational approach developed by an Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori. It is designed to foster and promote the child’s desire to learn and develop intellectual and emotional intelligence at their optimal pace. It is an approach that aims at the overall development of a child’s physical, social, emotional, and cognitive skills.

How is the Montessori approach different from Traditional day care/preschools?

In the traditional day care/preschool the primary focus is on social skills. The acquisition of academic skills is of secondary importance. Children are generally grouped according to age and follow a rigid curriculum. The teachers plan activities for the children as a group and direct the children through these activities, thereby creating an adult centered environment.

In a Montessori classroom, the emphasis is placed on both social and academic development. Children of different ages share the classroom and interact spontaneously. A Montessori teacher prepares activities for the children to use individually, with another child, or in a small group. The children are not bound by the curriculum in the classroom, but rather, they seek knowledge and learning through their own inner guide and desire to learn-thus making a Montessori classroom a student centered environment. They are constantly challenged and can progress at their own pace. The teacher guides and supports them as needed.

What is a Montessori class?

A Montessori classroom is a carefully prepared environment that supports a child’s natural desire to learn. It is designed to put the child at ease by giving them freedom in an environment prepared with attractive age appropriate materials. The emphasis of the room is on the children; they learn concentration, self-confidence, respect for others, and self-reliance. Children choose their own work from low, open, easy accessible shelves, enabling them to gain independence.

Why do you have mixed age groups of children in the same class?

Children learn from each other. The young children learn academic and social skills from observing their older classmates. The older children get an opportunity to reinforce their own knowledge by helping the younger ones, thus learning patience, tolerance and leadership skills in this process.

What is the role of a teacher in a Montessori Classroom?

Montessori teachers are a dynamic link between the environment and the needs of a child. The teacher spends time observing the children, their interactions with each other, and the materials within the environment. Using these observations the teacher evaluates the needs of each child and continuously makes adjustments in the environment to ensure the interest, growth and development of the children. Additionally, these observations guide the teacher in planning lessons and introduction of new materials.

Why do children use the materials individually? Do they learn to share?

The children need freedom to explore the materials without “interruptions”.   Just as adults do not like distractions when involved in a task, children prefer to complete their activities without distractions. In the Montessori environment, they develop their ability to focus their attention. Without unnecessary interruptions, their attention span increases and they develop concentration skills. The sharing of materials is natural and spontaneous and it comes from within the child, rather than being forced by an adult. When they desire, they share by communicating and helping others. Sharing evolves naturally from the classroom experience. 

Are the children free to do anything?

The children are free to explore the environment and interpersonal relationships in constructive ways and within limits. The underlying theme is respect; the adult respects the individuality of each child. All activity is guided by respect for the teacher, respect for the work of others, and respect of the materials themselves. The children learn that others have needs and rights, and that they must respect those needs and rights. The children are free to explore as long as their explorations do not include actions that hurt or disturb any other child. The children learn that what is good for the group is acceptable and what is not good for the group is unacceptable.

Is Montessori only for bright children?

Maria Montessori first worked with intellectually disabled children. By using her materials, these children surpassed “normal” children in many areas. This finding led Maria Montessori to question the teaching techniques in traditional schools, and prompted her to open classrooms for “normal” children. She saw patterns of learning that transcended intelligence and other personal characteristics. As a result, she designed activities that are appropriate for all children. 

Will my child be able to adjust in the traditional public or private elementary school?

Our goal is to prepare children for life’s experiences. We prepare them academically so that most children entering first grade are reading or on the brink of reading. They also have a firm understanding of the concept of numbers and the decimal system. Montessori children are respectful, confident, enthusiastic, and self-directed learners. They are able to think critically, work collaboratively, and act boldly with skill sets required for the 21st century. Montessori children are much more prepared for elementary school than children attending day care/pre-schools.