In a Montessori classroom, the teacher gives each child their lessons individually from several areas of the classroom, such as language, math, art, sensorial, practical life and geography. A Montessori classroom gives children the freedom necessary to develop their differences that make them a unique individual. Montessori education compliments the universal qualities of all children.
What is Montessori?
In 1906, Maria Montessori created Montessori education in the slums of Rome, Italy. Dr. Montessori was a medical doctor who, after years of observing children, discovered that they passed through various stages of development. She discovered that while in each stage, children were able to learn effortlessly whatever it was that interested them. She recognized that children need freedom to explore without interruption. With this in mind she trained people to observe and guide, rather than teach the children. Dr. Montessori also created various materials for the children to use, which would satisfy their needs and curiosities while in each stage of development.
Here are some frequently asked questions of the Montessori style of education:
How do I know my child is ready for Montessori?
Children independent in the bathroom and between the ages of 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 are usually ready. A child needs to have some impulse control and to have passed out of the oral stage (objects in mouth).
Why does my child need to be two or three to start the program?
The children’s house is designed specifically to meet the needs of a child between the ages of 2 1/2 to 6. Children have sensitive periods for learning which all fade by the age of 5 1/2. In class, lessons build on each other and cater to these sensitive periods. The kindergarten year is a time when connections are made and the fruit of all lessons is harvested. If a child enters the children’s house after some of these periods have faded the lessons are not fully absorbed.
Do the children do all their work independently? Group lessons?
The children do most of their work independently. Children at this age are working on self-construction. They each have an internal drive that draws them to specific work on the shelf. A child may do any particular lesson one time or fifty times depending on the child’s age, interest, or stage of development. As a child draws closer to the age of six he becomes more interested in group lessons. Some of the higher end math and language lessons are given in small groups to feed that need. Small gatherings are held sporadically for grace and courtesy lessons, stories, or listening games. Everyday, the group comes together, as a whole, to read stories and sing. The group comes together for celebrations as well.
How do you know when to give a child a lesson?
There are two things a teacher observes in a child when preparing to give a new lesson. The first is the child’s skill level. It is a delicate balance between offering a lesson to a child that is challenging but not too difficult to discourage. The second is interest; children absorb a lesson in its totality if it is something they are attracted to.
What is the difference between kindergarten at Montessori verses public school?
In public schools, students generally learn information as a unit; the entire class gets the same lesson at the same time. This does not take into account children learning at different rates.
In a Montessori classroom, individuals work on a variety of different lessons at any one time. If 20 children are in the room, 20 different lessons can be going on at once. Students receive one on one lessons from the teacher, and classrooms are multi-aged.
For a Montessori kindergartener, anywhere from two to three years has already been spent in the Montessori environment engaged in lessons that build upon one another. The last year, the kindergarten year, is when the child’s Montessori experience really comes together. As an older child, their mental process moves from concrete thinking into abstraction; it is here true connections are made in their academics. Also, the last year in the children’s house is a time to be a leader amongst younger children utilizing all their grace and courtesy.