Why Choose Montessori?
Top Three Reasons
Respect and Understanding
The Montessori Method
During the time of day referred to as Work Time (Maria Montessori believed “Play is the work of the child”), children freely roam the classroom to find activities of interest. The classroom is organized into specific areas- Practical Life, Sensorial, Art, Math, Language, Cultural Studies, Science- from which the children can choose activities. Children are free to choose materials with which they are familiar and teachers invite the children to learn new lessons and explore new activities. When a child chooses an activity, he or she will find a work space, bring the activity to that work space to explore, and return the activity to the original space for another child to use. This work cycle teaches children responsibility and care of materials while increasing concentration, as children are free to work the materials for as long as they desire before moving to a new activity. Throughout the process, teachers are taking careful observations of each child to discover what new lessons the child may be ready to learn.
The Montessori Philosophy
Montessori teachers understand and embrace the fact that every child learns in his or her own way and at his or her own speed. For that reason, Montessori learning is highly individualized; teachers follow the child to learn what interests him or her, then find ways to guide their learning.
Montessori classrooms are mixed-age, multi-sensory and maintain a sense of order and beauty. Mixed-age classrooms (2-3, 3-6, 6-9) allow younger children to learn through observation while older children are afforded opportunities to practice leadership skills. Materials and activities are designed to appeal to a child’s senses to not only hone those skills but to help the children absorb information in multiple ways. For example, a child may trace a sandpaper letter to feel the shape of the letter while saying the letter’s sound, thereby hearing the sound the letter produces. The classrooms are carefully prepared by the teachers to be beautiful and orderly; there is a place and purpose for everything.
Within the Montessori classroom, children are provided freedom of choice within a carefully structured environment. Children learn responsibility, patience, and kindness as they explore friendships and materials.
Maria Montessori was, in many ways, ahead of her time. Born in the town of Chiaravalle, in the province of Ancona, Italy, in 1870, she became the first female physician in Italy upon her graduation from medical school in 1896. Shortly afterwards, she was chosen to represent Italy at two different women's conferences, in Berlin in 1896 and in London in 1900.
In her medical practice, her clinical observations led her to analyze how children learn, and she concluded that they build themselves from what they find in their environment. Shifting her focus from the body to the mind, she returned to the university in 1901, this time to study psychology and philosophy. In 1904, she was made a professor of anthropology at the University of Rome.
Her desire to help children was so strong, however, that in 1906 she gave up both her university chair and her medical practice to work with a group of sixty young children of working parents in the San Lorenzo district of Rome. It was there that she founded the first Casa dei
Bambini, or "Children's House." What ultimately became the Montessori method of education developed there, based upon Montessori's scientific observations of these children's almost effortless ability to absorb knowledge from their surroundings, as well as their tireless interest in manipulating materials. Every piece of equipment, every exercise, every method Montessori developed was based on what she observed children to do "naturally," by themselves, unassisted by adults.
Children teach themselves. This simple but profound truth inspired Montessori's lifelong pursuit of educational reform, methodology, psychology, teaching, and teacher training—all based on her dedication to furthering the self-creating process of the child.
—biography written by D. Renee Pendleton; http://montessori-namta.org/
What Happens *After* Montessori?
"What happens after Montessori?" is a common question we are often asked by parents who are concerned about their child's transition from a Montessori classroom environment, to a Traditional classroom environment.
Jesse McCarthy, with MontessoriEducation.com, interviewed a Montessori alum, Meredith Narrowe, about her transition from a Montessori school to a public elementary school.
This podcast is an excellent glimpse into how Montessori education affects the lives of its students.
The Montessori environment offers children opportunities to develop their potential as they grow into the world as engaged, competent, responsible, and respectful citizens with an understanding that learning is for life.