Although there are many more things that Montessori education excels at, here are the ten big ones that often come to mind.
Montessori works with key developmental stages. The Montessori methodology focuses on key developmental stages in 2-1/2 to 6-year-old children. Younger children work more with large muscle groups and language skills. Four-year-olds focus on fine motor skills and learning everyday activities, like cooking, arts, and crafts. Children five-years-old and above expand their learning to include their communities, social networks, and the greater world at large.
Montessori is based on playing cooperatively. In a true Montessori program, children guide their activities and focus more on what interests them, rather than having teachers “run” the classroom. Through focusing on a particular activity, other topics are introduced. For example, working with counting beads helps children work with both numbers and math and helps them work on motor skills that will help in other areas of the classroom. As a result, children often share work they like and help other children work and explore cooperatively in the various areas of a Montessori classroom. This encourages children to develop respect and build abilities to work with one another.
Montessori focuses on child-centered learning. Preschool students in a Montessori program benefit from a classroom and curriculum designed around specific needs and abilities and results in exploration and learning that happens at each child’s own pace and terms. Classroom materials are at each child’s level and are within easy reach. Furniture is child-sized. At Language Garden Montessori School, even the toilets are child-sized. Older children in the classroom often mentor and teach younger children, creating a sense of community and camaraderie in the classroom.
Self-discipline happens naturally in a Montessori classroom. Montessori allows children to select activities they want to work on. Each day, they choose the materials they prefer and decide and how long they spend on each task. There are basic “ground rules” for the class. These are consistently enforced by the teacher and other students and allow for the freedom of choice and learning styles. Environments like this naturally teach self-discipline and help with concentration, self-control, and motivation.
The Montessori environment naturally teaches order. Each material, work, or object has a proper location on a shelf in a Montessori classroom. This allows for a natural sense of order and helps children learn that everything has its place and that through the self-discipline of putting things back in their place, a child’s need for an orderly environment can be created by him or her self. Through work in an orderly environment, children can release their innate creativity and focus.
Montessori teachers are facilitators. Montessori teachers are more like “guides.” They are there to facilitate learning. Teachers follow what the children are attracted to and ensure that basic classroom ground rules are followed. Montessori teachers also encourage students to work at their own pace. Teachers don’t determine the pace of the overall classroom; each student determines his or her own pace. In almost all cases, the children learn very quickly because they are focused and engaged in the things that interest them.
Montessori methodology inspires creativity. Because children choose their activities and work on their own, creativity is a natural result. Children work for the joy of the work. This focuses on the process than the result, which is an important path to creativity. It also allows for children to be exposed to many experiences and cultures and helps to broaden thinking about the world and its rich tapestry of peoples and cultures.
May be very effective in developing certain skills. A 2006 article in the journal Science by Dr. Angeline Lillard, a professor of psychology from the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, the abilities of children who have been taught in a Montessori school were higher in math and reading than those in other programs. Social development also was shown to be higher in Montessori students.
Montessori education is individualized to each student. Montessori students explore activities and concepts at their own pace based on their own interests. They naturally will try more challenging areas, which accelerates learning as they discover that what was once hard can become easy with patience and persistence. Learning is not defined by the progress of an entire classroom but by the progress of each child working on what they wish to accomplish.
The Montessori curriculum focuses on hands-on learning. One of the biggest advantages of Montessori education, especially in a preschool environment, is the focus on hands-on learning. Children work on things that are concrete and things that they can put their hands on (and often in). Through this, children learn math, culture, language, and practical life lessons. Teachers guide children to work on tasks that they are interested in and discourage other students from interrupting a student who doesn’t want help because he or she wants to figure it out “on my own.” The important years of 2-1/2 to 6 years old, basically pre-first-grade, prepare a student for many years to come by teaching them the skills needed to learn and master new ideas, concepts, and materials.
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