What makes a Montessori education unique?
The whole child approach
The primary goal of a Montessori program is to help each child reach their full potential. Activities and instructional materials are scientifically designed to provide variety in learning experiences which promote the development of social skills, emotional growth, and physical coordination as well as cognitive preparation. The holistic curriculum, under the direction of a specifically prepared teacher, allows the child to experience the joy of learning. It also ensures the development of self-esteem and provides the experiences from which children create their knowledge.
The “prepared environment”
In order for self-directed learning to take place, the whole learning environment—room, materials and social climate—must be supportive of the learner. The teacher provides the necessary resources, including opportunities for children to function in a safe and positive climate. The teacher thus gains the child’s trust, which enables them to try new things and build self-confidence.
The Montessori materials
Dr. Montessori’s observations of the kinds of things that children enjoy and return to repeatedly led her to design a number of multi-sensory, sequential, and self-correcting materials that facilitate the learning of skills and lead to learning and mastery of abstract ideas.
Originally called a “Directress,” the Montessori teacher functions as a designer of the environment, resource person, role model, demonstrator, record-keeper, and meticulous observer of each child’s behavior and growth. The teacher acts as a facilitator of learning. Teachers guide. Children lead.
Of course, Montessori methods at times may go against the grain of traditional educational methods. We are given very little opportunity, for instance, to perform our own, original experiments, and there is also little or no margin for failure or mistakes. We are judged primarily on getting answers right. There is much less emphasis on developing our creative thinking abilities, our abilities to let our minds run imaginatively and to discover things on our own.
But most highly creative achievers don’t begin with brilliant ideas, they discover them.
- Less than 20 years ago there were approximately 50 Montessori public schools. Today there are more than 400 Montessori public schools.
- Perhaps it’s just a coincidence that Montessori alumni lead two of the world’s most innovative companies. Both Google, Wikipedia and Amazon were founded by Montessori Alumni
We cannot change the way we as adults have been trained to think. That begins in small, achievable ways, with increased experimentation and inquisitiveness. Those who nurture their ability to ask “why not?” or “what if?” as much as “why?” can develop these qualities. Questions are the new answers.
Please consider reading recent published data about the benefits of a Montessori education!
- Montessori Builds Innovators
- The Montessori Mafia
- 7 Tech Innovators Who Became Wildly Successful After Going To Montessori School
- Is Montessori The Origin Of Google And Amazon?
- Maria Montessori and 10 famous graduates from her schools