What is Montessori?

Many educators, scientists, and even politicians, have written about educational and developmental models, but nobody has created a complete developmental package like Dr. Maria Montessori did.

Montessori is a method of education that is based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play. In Montessori classrooms children make creative choices in their learning, while the classroom and the teacher offer age-appropriate activities to guide the process. Children work in groups and individually to discover and explore knowledge of the world and to develop their maximum potential.

Montessori environments support the learning of children from birth to middle school:

PRIMARY  – for children aged three to six years (Kindergarten)

  • foster the growth of functional independence, task persistence and self-regulation
  • promote social development through respectful, clear communication and safe, natural consequences
  • contain a large variety of materials for the refinement of sensory perception and the development of literacy and mathematical understanding
  • offer opportunities for imaginative exploration leading to confident, creative self-expression

ELEMENTARY – for children aged six to twelve years
Lower Elementary, ages six to nine (1st – 3rd grade)
Upper Elementary, ages nine to twelve (4th – 6th grade)

  • offer opportunities for collaborative intellectual exploration in which the child’s interests are supported and guided
  • support the development of self-confidence, imagination, intellectual independence and self-efficacy
  • foster an understanding of the child’s role in their community, in their culture and in the natural world

MIDDLE –  (7th – 8th grade)

  • adolescents engage in all aspects of business administration and economic interdependence (perhaps with an agricultural program they see through from planting seeds to selling crops at a farmer’s market)
  • assist the young adult in the understanding of oneself in wider and wider frames of reference
  • provide a context for practical application of academics
  • emphasize the development of self-expression, true self-reliance, and agility in interpersonal relationships.

Above all, Montessori classrooms at all levels nurture each child’s individual strengths and interests. Montessori education encourages children to explore their world, and to understand and respect the life forms, systems and forces of which it consists.


The Montessori Difference

The underlying assumption in a traditional classroom is that every student can grasp the same amount of concepts throughout a school year, but anyone who has been in a classroom will tell you that there is no way all the students will be able to work through every lesson at the same pace.

Dr. Montessori believed that school should foster the development and growth of children.  From basic developmental skills, to problem solving, social development, and teamwork.  Students in a Montessori classroom discover their personal motivations and passions, allowing them to discover how the unique interests and talents they bring to the world make them something special.infographic 1

 

What does a Montessori Classroom Look Like?

Montessori classrooms are intentional environments, carefully designed to meet the needs of a specific age group.  Lessons and materials are designed to meet how children learn.  They allow for hands on exploration and are highly adaptable to various learning styles.

Teachers guide students through lessons balancing the academic expectations of the child, while also giving them their own pace and allowing them to learn at their own space.  The day is structured around 3-hour work cycles where students are allowed to move throughout the classroom.  Often a child will find a place to sit and focus on a task, granting them the opportunity to work in a way that makes sense to them, focused on the lesson at hand until they fully grasp it. They are given time and space to focus on individual concepts and really fall in love with the materials, and with learning.

Montessori not only fosters cognitive development, but it also fosters social and emotional development.  There is a deep experience of community in the mixed-aged classrooms environment.  Older children mentor and teach younger students.  They learn social graces from an early age.

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Montessori in a Diverse Community

The Montessori lessons are based on the fundamental ways humans learn.  That scientific design coupled with the flexibility of the lessons and methods allows Montessori to work incredibly well in diverse communities because each child is accepted for who they are.  Students are empowered and allowed to function independently while also learning social graces. Regardless of whether students are at-risk, ESE, or have language barriers, all children can achieve academic, social and emotional development in a peaceful, respectful and engaged communityinfographic part 3