Parents only want what’s best for their kids, especially when it comes to their education. No wonder why a lot of parents consider sending their children to a Montessori-focused school.
But what exactly is Montessori education, and how is it different from the traditional method of learning?
Montessori education is a method of learning that was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori during the 1900s. It focuses on a child-centered approach in which children are given a prepared environment for them to explore and learn at their own pace, under the guidance of their teachers.
The Montessori education works on the following principles:
A prepared environment
You can immediately spot the difference between a traditional and a Montessori-based classroom the moment you set your foot inside. In a Montessori approach, a prepared environment is used to explore and help bring out the potential of the learner.
You’ll notice that a Montessori environment is spacious, eye-pleasing, simple, and neat, with each element specifically placed to aid in the child’s learning.
The environment in a Montessori school is structured based on the age group of the learners. Younger kids are given small chairs and tables, and low shelves that contain the materials for learning. This makes the materials easily accessible whenever the child will be ready to explore.
Unlike the traditional grading system, Montessori style classrooms are divided based on different age groups: ages 0 to 3, ages 3 to 6, ages 6 to 9 and ages 9 to 12. Mixed age classrooms are claimed to offer enough opportunities for the learners to cooperate, socialize, respect and learn from one another.
While traditional schools have pre-made modules and structured activities that are delivered by teachers to their students, the Montessori learning focuses on child-led approach. This means that learning is initiated and driven by the child. Under the guidance of a teacher, the learner is encouraged to do things at his own time and pace by offering a favorable environment that suits their age.
The Four Planes Of Development
According to the model developed by Dr. Montessori, children go through Four Planes of Development from infancy to adulthood, specifically:
The Absorbent Mind (Birth to 6 years)
This is the stage when children simply absorbs what they see, hear, feel, and learn from their environment, regardless of whether they are good or bad.
The Rational Mind (6 to 12 years)
At this stage, children becomes more empowered with rational and abstract thinking.
The Humanistic Mind (12 to 18 years)
This is the teenage stage wherein children becomes focused on how they can contribute to their environment and have a better understanding of humanity.
The Specialist Mind (18 to 24 years)
This is when the child will turn into adulthood, explore, and seek his rightful place in this world.
The Montessori method is based on these four evolutionary stages and what the child needs or focuses at his age.
Use of scientifically-designed tangible materials
The Montessori method of teaching believes that manipulating concrete and tangible materials can lead to more effective abstract thinking and knowledge. Children are exposed to Montessori materials that suits their age and interests.
These are often tactile objects that can lead to learning. For preschool children, it may be a sandpaper letter cutout that a child can trace through his hands. The sensation of the rough surface can stimulate a child’s senses while he learns how to write the specific letter.
A Montessori teacher is called a directress. Unlike in a traditional classroom, the role of a directress is to guide and offer plenty of opportunities so that the child can learn on his own.
The main objective of the directress is to have the least possible intervention as the child learns. For example, she is there to observe as the child explores several tangible materials in the classroom. Once she noticed that the child is ready, she’ll introduce how to use the learning material correctly either individually or in small groups, then allow the children to explore a much deeper context on their own.
A Montessori teacher also doesn’t give rewards or punishments. They allow the child to find satisfaction through his or her own objectives and actions. It will also teach the child that errors are a natural part of a learning process.
Montessori education is an innovative approach to learning wherein children are empowered to explore an environment that is prepared depending on their age. A Montessori directress guides rather than lectures, and allows learners to develop their own objectives, interact with their peers, and learn things at their own pace.