Montessori is a method of education developed in the 1890's by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori.
It is a child-centered approach that focuses on the individual child and their needs and personal interest and stretches far beyond educating children in the academic areas, focusing on the development of the whole child. Dr Montessori's concepts led to the Montessori educational method of today.
What makes this method of learning so different compared to the conventional form of education, is that the teacher does not stand at the front of the class and teach each child the same lesson all at once. Each child is allowed to learn at their own rhythm as though they are in fact not learning or being taught.
Montessori called this way of teaching “preparing the child for success”. The teacher is there to guide the child through small exercises in which the child will succeed. Through time, the exercises progress in difficulty so that the child never feels as though learning is a struggle.
Montessori and traditional - What’s the difference?
Montessori education is a student-led and self-paced program.
Montessori students don’t just memorise facts and figures. They also learn the “hows,” “whens,” and “whys,” ensuring that learning takes place on a deep and fundamental level. Specially designed learning materials that use real objects and actions to translate abstract ideas into concrete form are utilized to support them in this learning.
Teachers introduce materials to students according to their level of development and readiness. Students then work with the materials to make exciting discoveries—such as why, when dividing fractions, we invert and multiply. Inherent in the use of Montessori materials is the understanding of the power of discovering answers on one’s own.
Montessori materials: are ingenious hands-on learning tools that are designed to stimulate children’s minds, encourage exploration, and inspire independent learning. They are enticing, simple to use, and intentionally supportive of children’s learning and development. Together, the Montessori materials come together to form the Montessori Curriculum. Montessori materials teach only one skill at a time to provide children with the opportunity to master key learning outcomes through repetition and practice. Doctor Montessori stated: “Nothing goes into the mind that does not first go through the hands.”
Multi-age groupings: of children ages 6 – 9 and 9 –12 (or 6 –12) provide a heterogeneous mix in which children can collaborate and socialise. These inter-age relationships strengthen the entire community. Older children are seen as role models within the community. They support the growth and development of younger children through socialisation, assisting with new work, or teaching skills they have mastered themselves. They can also work with younger students in areas of the curriculum in which they themselves may need more practice, without stigma.
Younger children follow the example set by the older students, and have peers to work with in areas of the curriculum in which they may be more advanced. This multi-age community provides opportunities for all individuals to learn from each other, at times leading, sharing, or serving as role models. It also develops an appreciation for differences.
Within this supportive, inclusive community, children work through the curriculum at their own pace, accelerating during some tasks or taking additional time with others.
Education for peace is a foundational component of Montessori education at all levels. At the Early Childhood level, the teaching of peace, social justice, and global citizenship is based on fostering respect for all people and living things, and helping children learn the tools for peaceful conflict resolution.
The Montessori Method encourages self-directed learning that promotes self-confidence, independent thought and action, and critical thinking, while fostering social-emotional and intellectual growth.