The Montessori Method, as a wholistic pedagogical approach, today is one of the most successful ways of learning which carries international recognition.
Contemporary research validates the effectiveness of the Montessori Method. Several key elements of the approach meet the educational goals today’s parents have for their children, including growing into capable people who will have a strong sense of self, the ability to connect with others, and the potential to be productive throughout their lives.
The early years (birth through age 6) are a critical time to set a strong foundation for who a child will become. All parents hope to find the best educational program for their children. They recognize the lasting impact that early learning experiences have on a child’s development and future learning. What is it about the Montessori philosophy and practice that is so appealing to parents?
Dr. Maria Montessori, the Italian pediatrician and visionary educator who founded the Method, recognized that children learn best through experience and that hands on learning encourages a deeper and more consistent understanding.
The carefully prepared learning environment that offers rich learning opportunities remains at the heart of Montessori education.
In a Montessori classroom all learning activities support children in choosing meaningful and challenging work at their own interest and ability level. This child-directed engagement strengthens motivation, supports attention, and encourages responsibility.
Uninterrupted blocks of work time (typically 2+ hours in length) allow children to work at their own pace and fully engage in an activity. Your child’s work cycle starts with selecting an activity, performing it for as long it remains interesting, cleaning up the activity, retuning it to the shelf, and making another work choice. This cycle facilitates the development of coordination, concentration, independence and a sense of order, while your child is mastering various skills.
Multi-age groupings enable younger children to learn from older children and experience new challenges through observation; older children reinforce their learning by teaching concepts they have already mastered, develop leadership skills, and serve as role models.
Children in a Montessori Classroom are introduced to progressively more advanced Montessori materials and sophisticated, fascinating lessons in 5 areas of study: Practical Life, Sensorial, Math, Language, and Cultural Studies. What are the lessons in these areas?
Children learn daily-life skills, such as how to get dressed, prepare snacks, set the table, care for plants and animals. They also learn appropriate social interactions, such as saying please and thank-you, being kind and helpful, listening without interrupting, and resolving conflicts peacefully. In addition to teaching specific skills, Practical Life activities promote independence, and fine- and gross-motor coordination.
Children refine skills in understanding the world through their senses, and learn how to describe and name their experiences—for example, rough and smooth, perceived through touch, long and short learnt through vision. Sensorial learning helps children classify their surroundings and create order. It lays the foundation for learning by developing the ability to classify, sort, and discriminate—skills necessary in math, geometry, and language.
Through hands-on activities, children learn to identify numerals and match them to the corresponding quantities, understand place-value and the base-10 system, and practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. They also explore patterns in the numbering system. With an exploratory approach, children do more than just memorize math facts; they gain a firm understanding of the meaning behind them.
Activities throughout the Early Childhood classroom teach language, help children acquire vocabulary, and develop skills needed for writing and reading. The ability to write is taught first, prior to reading. Using hands-on materials, children learn letter sounds, how to combine sounds to make words, how to build phrases and sentences, or how to use a pencil. Once these skills are acquired, children spontaneously learn to read.
A wide range of subjects, including history, geography, science, art, and music, are integrated in lessons in the cultural area of the curriculum. Children learn about the world around them. Discovering similarities and differences among people and places helps them develop an understanding and appreciation of the diversity of our world, and a respect for all living things.