The Montessori Method

“Our care of children should be governed not by the desire ‘to make them learn things’, but by the endeavor always to keep burning within them that light which is called intelligence.” – Dr. Maria Montessori

Children possess an unusual sensitivity and intellectual ability to absorb and learn from their environment. They have a deep love and need for purposeful work; however, they work not as an adult for the completion of a job, but the sake of the activity itself. It is this work that enables them to accomplish their most important goal: the development of their individual selves and the awakening of their full potential.

Each Montessori class operates on the principle of freedom within limits. Every program has its set of ground rules which differ from age to age, but is always based on core Montessori beliefs – the importance of independence, and respect for self, each other and for the environment.

Children are free to work at their own pace with materials they have chosen, either alone or with others. The teacher relies on his or her observations of the children to determine which new activities and materials may be introduced to an individual child or to a small or large group. The aim is to encourage active, self-directed learning and to strike a balance of individual mastery with small group collaboration within the whole group community.

The multi-age grouping in each class provides a family-like setting where learning can take place naturally. More experienced children share what they have learned while reinforcing their own knowledge and skills. The multi-age community interaction is intrinsic to Montessori. This encourages rich language experiences, and opportunities for the development of empathy and social learning.

The benefits and outcomes of the Montessori method include:

Experiencing the joy of learning

Most of the learning activities are individualized: i.e., each child engages in a learning task that particularly appeals to them…because they find the activities geared to their needs and level of readiness. Consequently, children work at their own rate, repeating the tasks as often as they like, and experiencing a series of successful achievements. In this manner, children build a positive attitude toward school and learning itself.

Creating a sense of order

Through a well-ordered and enriched yet simplified environment, the child’s need for order and security is intensely satisfied. This is noticed in the calming effect the Montessori environment has on the child. Since every item in the Montessori classroom has a place and the ground rules call for everything in its place, the child’s inner need for order is directly satisfied.

Fostering independence, building confidence

Tasks are designed so that each new step is built upon what the child has already mastered, thus removing the negative experience of frequent failure. A carefully planned series of successes builds upon inner confidence in the child assuring them that they can learn by themselves. These confidence-building activities likewise contribute to the child’s healthy emotional development.

Developing a habit of concentration

Effective learning presupposes the ability to listen carefully and to attend to what is said or demonstrated. Through a series of absorbing experiences, the child forms habits of extended attention, thus increasing their ability to concentrate.

Encouraging critical thinking

In a rapidly changing society, we will all be students throughout our lives. A deep, persistent and abiding curiosity is a prerequisite for creative learning. By providing the child with opportunities to discover qualities, dimensions and relationships amidst a rich variety of stimulating learning situations, curiosity is developed and an essential element in critical thinking is established.

Promoting initiative, persistence and perseverance

By surrounding the child with appealing materials and learning activities geared to their inner needs, they become accustomed to engaging in activities on their own. Gradually, this results in a habit of initiative – an essential quality in leadership. “Ground rules” call for completing a task once begun and gradually results in a habit of persistence and perseverance for replacing materials after the task is accomplished. This “completion expectation” gradually results in a habit of persistence and perseverance.

Come and tour Wake Forest Montessori to learn more.