The unique characteristics of the Montessori educational program provides an inclusive and academically rigorous environment where individual differences are accepted, peers give each other recognition and assistance, peer tutoring and collaboration are encouraged, and whole-child development is fostered. Montessori classrooms feature developmentally appropriate mixed-age groupings backed by years of research in a multitude of fields to create a rich, dynamic, and collaborative environment to grow these skills.
what is montessori?
The Montessori Method
The Montessori classroom is organized into specific areas: Practical Life, Art, Math, Cultural Studies, Science, Sensorial, and Language. During the child’s “Work” time, a child is free to roam the classroom and select their activity of interest. After selecting their activities, the child then finds a work space in which they explore the materials within the activity. After completing this activity, the child returns the materials back to the original space, to allow another child the opportunity to use. This work cycle emphasizes taking care of the child’s environment, as well as increasing the child’s concentration, as they work on the project as long as they desire. This entire process occurs under the watchful eye of the teacher, who helps invite children to learn new lessons according to their abilities.
Through this method, we strive to create lifelong learners by following each child’s interests to intrinsically motivate them to ask questions and explore the world around them.
“Play is the Work of the Child” Maria Montessori
The idea behind the Montessori Method is the empowerment of the child to learn according to their individual needs. Montessori teachers recognize the fact that each child learns at a different pace, and they encourage their students to explore the classroom and choose work that best fits their needs.
The Montessori classroom provides a wide variety of multi-age, multi-sensory activities that appeal to a child’s senses. These activities and materials hone the child’s skills and allows them to absorb information in an interactive fashion.
Within the Montessori classroom, a child is free to explore and learn within a carefully constructed environment, where they can learn how to interact with one another and the world around them.
dr. maria montessori
Dr. Maria Montessori (8/31/1870 – 8/6/1952) was an Italian physician, scientist, educator, and innovator. She was the first woman in Italy to obtain the degree of Doctor of Medicine. Because she was a doctor, Dr. Montessori looked at education from a scientific level. She believed that education should prepare a person for all aspects of life. She designed materials and techniques that would promote a natural growth of learning in students.
Dr. Montessori spent her life conducting research and training others on implementation of the Montessori Model under their cultural contexts. Dr. Montessori established the Association Montessori Internationale, to ensure that her philosophy and approach to education would be carried on as she intended. This organization is still operating in this capacity today, helping to ensure high-quality Montessori schools are using data-drive practices to guide their implementation.
"Never help a child with a task at which they feel they can succeed."
- Dr. Maria Montessori
montessori in action
American Montessori Society
The American Montessori Society has provided and inside peek into the inner workings of a Montessori Elementary and Secondary Program classroom.
Montessori: The Elementary Years
Montessori: Secondary Program
The Gold standard in Montessori education ensuring the evidence-based model quality standards are met.
Montessori is not a patented name in the USA. Be sure you are looking at a Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE) accredited school model.
how does it compare?
Traditional schools rely on textbooks, pencil and paper and worksheets to teach children. Many of these materials are not provided for the student and are left to parents to provide
Materials in the Montessori classroom are designed to be hands-on, which enables the child to discover new subjects and gain independence. There are rarely any outside materials required, as all of the materials are provided in class.
The standardized nature of the program creates a natural disconnect between intellectual and social development. As each subject is taught in a specific block of time, students are discouraged from socializing, as this would cause distractions within the classroom.
The Montessori classroom focuses specifically on developing both the intellectual and social development of the child. Children are taught how to be courteous, and learn about different cultures around the world. Older children within a classroom are encouraged to help younger children learn; leading them through their own knowledge and experience.
A one size fits all program that focuses on narrow, unit driven curricula required by the Department of Education.
A Montessori education is a unified, time tested curriculum defined by the child's needs and interests. Students can study the subjects they wish to learn, while STILL following the required program developed by the Department of Education.
The educational program for traditional school focuses on individual subjects, each taught within a specific time-frame every day.
Each subject is tackled in a multitude of different ways, integrated into all of the possible activities a child may focus on. This ensures that a child will be able to learn the subject in a way that caters to their needs.
Everything a child learns in a traditional school is based on the class schedule. A student's learning is thus limited to the specific block of time the teacher allows before moving on to the next subject. As such, there are many different interruptions within a school day.
In a Montessori classroom, children are free to move about the room and work with very few interruptions. Time is scheduled with long periods of free work time, allowing a student to work on a single subject for hours or many small projects through the day.
Classroom ages vary only by about a year, and there is little to no interaction between grades.
Montessori classrooms are mixed aged, and older children gain leadership skills by mentoring younger children.
During instruction students are required to remain at their desks, in absolute silence as the teacher lectures about a subject
The Montessori program is designed with long blocks of free time, in which students are allowed to freely move throughout the classroom. This allows a student to remain engaged in learning.
Students fit the mold of the school: "Cookie cutter students"
The school meets the needs of students, allowing them to become strong, capable individuals.
Children must rely on a teacher to grade their work and there may be no opportunity to correct the work for a better grade. As such, many students have to leave the campus and pay for special help in mastering the subjects.
The Montessori program believes in fostering creative problem-solving, which allows a child to work on a project until the project is done correctly. Each piece of material is designed to be self-correcting, allowing a student to work on the problem until the correct solution is found. As such, students rarely need to leave for special help, as the teacher is free to help students as needed.
Grades follow a standardized, norm-referenced assessment procedure. Due to the standardization of the program, a child who excels at a subject must wait for the other students to complete the subject before beginning the next subject.
Montessori education progresses at the speed the child chooses. It uses progress-focused assessment via skills checklists and mastery benchmarks to grade a student's learning. Free to pursue their interests, a child is rarely (if ever) bored with learning. Students get to focus on the subjects that challenge them, instead of waiting on others to complete a subject they are already confident in.
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.