What is the Montessori Method?

By Savka E. Wisecup, Glebe Montessori School’s Educational Consultant

The Montessori Method has been in existence for over 100 years, with schools located all over the world. This educational system was founded by Dr. Maria Montessori, a medical doctor, who studied and researched the physical, intellectual and emotional development of children. Her studies and observations gave new light on how to teach and educate children.

Yet, the Montessori method is still questioned and misunderstood!

• What is the Montessori Method?

• How can children learn in an open classroom?

• Why are children of different ages in one classroom?

• How can children progress academically when selecting their own work?

The Montessori Method is based on several principles which Dr. Montessori established as her educational philosophy. These principles include the importance of the prepared environment (the classroom and materials), honoring and respecting each child’s uniqueness, allowing children to progress at their own pace, and promoting independence.

The Montessori classroom is a well-prepared learning environment. The teachers serve as guides, providing information and feedback to ensure the academic and personal success of each student. The materials are educational, sequential, self- correcting and thoroughly captivating. Dr. Montessori developed these specific materials to respond to the many stages of a child’s mental and physical development. All the materials are designed to be presented in sequential order; when the child masters a skill, the next lesson and material is presented. Very young children start with Montessori Practical Life activities that teach them to take care of themselves and their environment. These lessons develop coordination, concentration, and a sense of order. The Montessori Sensorial materials are designed to develop the senses, such as discriminating colour, size, texture, shapes, scents and sounds. The Geometry cabinet is an example of a sensorial material. The Montessori math and language materials give the child concrete, hands-on, experiences to gain a comprehensive understanding of these subjects and of abstract concepts. Geography, music, world culture, art, history, yoga, science, foreign languages, science and technology are all included in the Montessori curriculum, starting from preschool through elementary. It is no wonder that Montessori students gain a strong academic foundation in their early years, which translates into advanced academic standing in later years.

Why are children of different ages grouped together? Each Montessori classroom has children of 3 different ages. Older children reinforce their skills as they serve as mentors, and younger children accelerate their learning through observing and interacting with their older classmates.

“There is a great sense of community within the Montessori classroom, where children of differing ages work together in an atmosphere of cooperation rather than competitiveness There is respect for the environment and for the individuals within it, which comes through experience of freedom within the community.” Dr. Maria Montessori

How can children accelerate when they choose their own activities and work at their own pace? Children naturally love to learn. When offering an enriched environment and curriculum, children are eager to explore and meet new challenges, under the guidance of their teachers. Dr. Montessori respected differing learning styles and created materials to address these differences, which enables each child to succeed and advance. A child who is strong in a particular subject should not have to follow the pace of a peer who may need extra support. For this reason, the curriculum and lessons are highly individualized, responding to the needs and uniqueness of each child.

The development and growth of independence are highly encouraged and supported in the Montessori classroom. Independence goes hand in hand with self-confidence. It is important to offer students the opportunity to make choices while selecting work, and take responsibility to reach their goals, with the teacher’s assistance. “Help me do it myself!”

“The essence of independence is to be able is to do something for one’s self. Adults work to finish a task, but the child works in order to grow, and is working to create the adult, the person that is to be. Such experience is not just play…. it is the work he must do in order to grow up.” Dr. Maria Montessori

Based on the principles of Dr. Maria Montessori, this methodology continues to successfully educate children world-wide, by nurturing, supporting and honoring each and every child. “If education recognizes the intrinsic value of the child’s personality and provides an environment suited to spiritual growth, we have the revelation of an entirely new child whose astonishing characteristics can eventually contribute to the betterment of the world.” Dr.Maria Montessori

To learn more about the Montessori Method, we invite you to attend Glebe Montessori School’s Information Evening at 6:00 pm, Tuesday, January 28th, 2020 at Glebe Montessori School, 650 Lyon St. South, in the Glebe.