What makes Montessori unique?
The main purpose of an authentic Montessori education is to provide a carefully planned, stimulating environment that helps children develop an excellent foundation for learning and leadership. In authentic Montessori environments, teaching methods and materials demonstrate the philosophical commitment to support students and prepare them to handle whatever challenges they may face in “real life”.
- The Montessori method does not try to put square pegs into round holes; it is deliberately flexible to work with the child’s basic needs and characteristics rather than trying to fit the child to the needs and characteristics of the teacher or the system.
- The Montessori method supports the development of skills that are part of the learning process; not memorization of facts, but mastering the learning process for use in all areas of study and of life.
The “Whole Child” Approach
The primary goal of a Montessori program is to help each child reach their full potential in all areas of life. Activities promote the development of social skills, emotional growth and physical coordination as well as cognitive preparation for future intellectual academic endeavors. The holistic curriculum, under the direction of a specifically prepared teacher, allows the child to experience the joy of learning, gives the child time to enjoy the process and ensures the development of self-esteem, and provides the experiences from which children create their knowledge.
The “Prepared Environment”
In order for self directed learning to take place, the whole learning environment – classroom, materials and social setting / atmosphere – must be supportive of the child. The teacher provides the necessary resources, including opportunities for children to function in a safe and positive environment. Together, the teacher and child form a relationship based on trust and respect that fosters self-confidence and enables the children to explore and discover confidently.
The Montessori Materials
Dr. Montessori’s observations of the kinds of things which children enjoy and go back to repeatedly, led her to design a number of multi-sensory, sequential and self correcting materials. These facilitate learning which builds from the concrete and sensorial to the abstract in constructing the child’s knowledge
The Montessori teacher functions as a designer of the environment, resource person, role model, demonstrator, record-keeper and meticulous observer of each child’s behavior and growth. The teacher facilitates learning. Extensive training is required for a full Montessori credential, and includes classroom practice teaching specialized for the age group with which a teacher will work, i.e. infant and toddler, 3-6 year olds, 6-9 year olds, 9-12 year olds and adolescents.