Most educators and psychologists agree that the single most important period in the development of a person's intelligence occurs between birth and age five. A child's mind is extremely absorbent and his curiosity is at its peak during these early years. When properly nourished and stimulated, the child's mind forms patterns for learning that serve him throughout his life. The Montessori system of preschool education has proven to be one of the most effective and fastest growing methods to guide a child through these critical years.
How does a Montessori preschool differ from others?
In most preschools, the children are taught educational concepts in a group by a teacher. In a Montessori preschool, the children learn concepts spontaneously as they work independently with the many materials in the environment. There is always a mixture of age groups to allow children to both learn from and teach other children.
What is the purpose of the Montessori Method?
The main purpose of the Montessori method is to develop an environment where the child can unfold spontaneously and manifest the greater person within. According to Maria Montessori, "The child is the father of man." As children begin to develop this inner self, their love of life and learning expand continuously.
At what age should a child enter a Montessori school?
The optimum age is between 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 years of age, because at this stage children are in a large number of their sensitive periods of development.
What are the sensitive periods?
Dr. Montessori’s term “sensitive periods” refers to the ages/periods when the child shows unusual capabilities in acquiring particular skills. Psychologists refer to such a time as a "critical learning period," a period in which the child is psychologically attuned to learn or acquire given ideas or skills more easily than at any other time.
What distinguishes a Montessori classroom?
The Montessori classroom is a child-sized world, a carefully prepared environment that allows the child to explore life on a level he can understand. The materials or exercises are designed to stimulate independent exploration. This prepared environment entices the child to proceed at his own pace from simple activities to more complex ones. Through this process, the child's natural curiosity leads him to experience the joy of discovering the world about him. Materials and curriculum center on practical life activities, sensory-motor experiences, language, math, geography, history, science, art, music, drama, and dance.
How do children interact in the environment?
As the child develops a sense of pride in her work, confidence, well-being, and joy begin to manifest itself in the child. A "new child" is born. A classroom of Montessori children is a pleasure to watch. A strong spirit of respect, love, and cooperation among the children is evident.
What is the role of the Montessori teacher?
The Montessori teacher is a director who facilitates the classroom activity. He/She carefully plans the environment in the interest of the children and helps them progress from one activity to the next. The teacher is trained to deal with each child individually and allows him or her to choose from many activities within his or her range of abilities. The teacher stands back while the child is working to allow the satisfaction of the child’s own discovery.
Does the freedom to choose cause confusion?
The concept of freedom in the classroom is a freedom within limits. A child is allowed to work freely as long as he/she does not disturb others. Actually, children with the freedom to follow their interests are generally happy and busy with their work. A free child or adult is one who prefers to work out problems for himself, but is capable of asking for and receiving direction when necessary. An undisciplined and unskilled child (or adult) is not free, but is a slave to his immediate desires and is excessively dependent on others. The free and self-disciplined child, of course, grows into the free and self-disciplined adult.
Who benefits from Montessori education?
Montessori education is an approach to learning and has no distinction of class or intelligence. It has been used successfully in all parts of the world and in all types of programs.
Is Montessori education expensive?
Tuition in Montessori schools is sometimes higher than in others because of the extensive materials, environment, curriculum, and specially trained staff. It is, however, a very reasonable cost in contrast to other activities parents plan to do for the child. To give your child the finest possible experience in his most sensitive years is to give a strong foundation throughout life. The child who enjoys learning and becomes self-directed at the critical preschool age, and continues through the elementary, will benefit through all his years of learning.
How does Montessori education benefit children during the elementary years?
Montessori elementary programs provide the same benefits as preschool Montessori programs do. They follow a rigorous academic course and offer children the chance to continue learning with advanced Montessori materials. Concepts are reintroduced with increasing degrees of abstraction and complexity. The curriculum is organized into a spiral of integrated studies. Mathematics, literature, the arts, science, geography, history, social issues, political science, economics, and the study of technology complement one another. The integrated approach, one of Montessori's greatest strengths, enhances learning for children of any age.
How does a child adjust from a Montessori school to a traditional one?
The qualities and skills that the children learn in a Montessori environment may be applied everywhere. Montessori is a preparation for LIFE. Skills such as orderly, sequential thought processes, concentration, coordination, and independence are necessary for all types of learning, regardless of where learning takes place. Montessori students develop not only excellent study skills, but also a positive self-image. They generally dovery well in traditional schools.
The Essential Montessori, Elizabeth G. Hainstock
The Third Year Child, Mary Elizabeth Kasser
Montessori Kindergarten, Lynn McCormick
Montessori: Her Method and Movement, R.C. Orem