The Montessori Method
Because there is so much written about Montessori (much of it copyrighted), the right hand column contains a listing of links to other sites for valuable information.
Dr. Maria Montessori first designed Montessori Education over 100 years ago in Italy. Her work was based on her deep belief in a child's inherent ability to teach him/herself.
"As I have so often said, it is true we cannot make a genius. We can only give each child the chance to fulfill his possibilities."
- Maria Montessori
Today, Montessori schools are found worldwide, serving children from birth through adolescence. In the United States, there are more than 4,000 private Montessori schools and more than 200 public schools with Montessori-styled programs. The Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), founded by Maria Montessori in 1929, maintains Montessori educational principles and disseminates Montessori education throughout the world.
Below is a brief summary of the goals of a Montessori Education.
To develop a positive attitude toward learning - Children engage in tasks that appeal to them. They work at their own rate, working at their own pace to achieve mastery, thus experiencing a series of successful experiences.
To help each child develop self-confidence - Tasks are designed so that each new step is built upon what the child has mastered, thus removing the negative experience of frequent failure.
To assist each child in building a habit of concentration - Through a series of absorbing experiences, the child forms habits of extended attention, thus increasing his/her ability to concentrate.
To foster an abiding curiosity - By providing the child with opportunities to discover qualities, dimensions, and relationships amidst a rich variety of stimulating learning experiences, curiosity is developed.
To develop habits of initiative and persistence - By surrounding the child with appealing materials and learning activities geared to his/her needs, the child becomes accustomed to engaging in activities on his own. Gradually, this results in a habit of initiative. "Ground Rules" call for completing a task once begun and gradually results in a habit of persistence and perseverance.
To foster inner security and sense of order in the child - Through a well ordered enriched, but simplified environment, the child's need for order and security is intensely satisfied. This is noticed in the calming effect of the Montessori classroom, where every item has a place and the ground rules call for everything in its place.
There are a number of factors that make a Montessori education unique. Some significant ones are as follows:
Whole child approach - A holistic curriculum allows each child to experience the joy of learning at his/her own pace, allows the time to enjoy the process and ensures the development of self-esteem. It provides the experiences from which children create their own knowledge.
Prepared Environment - In order for self-directed learning to take place, the whole learning environment-classroom, materials, and social setting/atmosphere must be supportive to the child.
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 to facilitate learning. These materials allow for concrete exploration and experience of concepts.
The teacher's role - The Montessori teacher functions as a designer of the environment, resource person, role model, demonstrator, record-keeper and observer of each child's growth and behavior.
Montessori vs. Traditional Education