What is Montessori?
Dr. Maria Montessori developed the Montessori Method of education over 100 years ago and is now practiced in schools all over the world. In fact, many current methods being taught to public school teachers as innovative are the same methods Montessori teachers have been using for over a century.
So what makes Montessori different?
The Montessori Method focuses on developing the whole child. In order for this to happen, the environment is carefully prepared to be beautiful, peaceful, inviting, and easily accessible to the child. All works are thoughtfully designed based on research and observation of the child’s needs. Works are also designed to be used in various ways throughout the child’s development and are often thoughtfully related to other works in the classroom. Lessons are designed to inspire further exploration and study rather than to give all the answers to the student.
Developing the whole child involves more than academics. This is one of the major ways Montessori differs from traditional classrooms. Montessori realizes in order for a child to become an independent and successful citizen, he/she must be knowledgeable of more than just math and reading. The whole child also involves developing the physical skills such as fine and gross motor skills; social skills through grace and courtesy, peace lessons, and service projects; and emotional skills such as respect, diversity, acceptance, and friendship. Various Arts and Practical Life skills are also integrated into the classroom. These may include anything from painting and sewing to woodworking or cooking. Pet and plant care are also a component of many Montessori classrooms.
The classroom itself is not traditional in that students do not sit in one place. Students move throughout the day and may work on the floor, tables, desks, or even outside. The world itself is the classroom, so many classrooms include outdoor areas as an extension of the learning area. Montessori students are also highly encouraged to utilize their communities as a resource for learning and research.