Montessori: Can anyone explain it in simple terms?
Yes, we definitely can. First, watch this short video. It provides an excellent summary of what’s at the heart of Montessori.
Next, let’s debunk some of the misconceptions. Montessori is NOT: A brand, a franchise, a religious affiliation, the name of an organization or group, a new trend, a new-age concept, or anything else of the sort.
Montessori IS a scientifically-founded method of child education, pioneered by Dr. Montessori, a three-time Noble-Prize nominee Italian Doctor. It develops all aspects of the child (i.e. "the whole child"): Socially, emotionally, physically and academically. The method has been proven for over a hundred years and it’s estimated that there are around 4,500 Montessori Schools in the US and over 20,000 worldwide.
Montessori schools and accreditations are not all the same. The difference lies mostly in the totality and accuracy with which the vast Montessori curriculum is imparted by each school. This however, is a major factor in order to achieve the outcomes expected of the world-renowned Montessori Method. The only way to ensure that a Montessori school is adhering to the comprehensive Montessori Method is through accreditation, of which the two best-known bodies are: Association Montessori International (AMI) - the original method with international accreditation, founded by Dr. Maria Montessori; and the American Montessori Society (AMS), a method derived from AMI and further adapted in the US decades ago.
What’s the Method all about then? In essence…
The Montessori Method is based on the following core principles:
- Respect for the Child: By allowing the children “freedom with limits” so that they can explore, discover and express their learning inclinations. In this manner and without stifling the child through a forceful approach, Montessori guides the child towards independence, self-confidence and developing the love for learning.
- The Absorbent Mind: A young child is naturally an eager and highly capable learner, and can ‘absorb’ a significant amount of from its environment. Thus, the ages of 0-6 are the ideal time to expose them to as many experiences, concepts and lessons as possible.
- Sensitive Periods (Stages/Planes) for Learning: It starts by recognizing that a child’s growth takes place across four scientifically-based stages (or planes) of development and that each of these stages has different needs within the learning cycle. Thus, the educational approach itself (not the subject) is adapted to suit each stage.
- A Prepared Environment: It carefully designs a class environment where learning is experiential and not based on memorization. It uses a wide array of specialized Montessori materials that allows the child to learn sensorially and with increasing levels of abstraction. These materials impart complex concepts, while the child enjoys their use and manipulation, through the guidance of a certified teacher. It provides mixed-aged classrooms, so that children can reinforce their learnings from one another and from their environment. Older children learn to be leaders and mentors and younger children learn what’s possible, not just from the teacher, but from peers like them.
- Independence and Discovery: It also recognizes that each child itself is different. Therefore, it further individualizes the approach to follow the child’s specific needs and readiness.
These methodical principles over-time foster self-esteem, independence, exploration and creativity, within a nurturing and peaceful environment, where the child develops the joy and love of learning.
Additional Information: Know Your Choices
Before seeking out a private Montessori school in Cedar Park or Austin, for example, parents should have a basic understanding of what Montessori is. You may have acquaintances with children in a Cedar Park, TX private Montessori school. Perhaps you’ve simply heard lately that every parent is looking to put their child in a private Montessori school in North Austin, TX. Maybe, we’ve heard that private school children obtain a better education. Or, maybe you know someone who attended a private Montessori School in North Austin.
Either way, before you enroll your child in a Cedar Park, Texas private Montessori school or any Montessori school around your city, it’s important to know why you’re doing so. A Montessori school is more than just a name, although the name is extremely important as well, as we will shortly explain.
We all want the best for our children, and if we’re able to provide them with a private school experience, we will certainly do so. However, not all private schools are alike, so if we’re going to invest the resources to put our children through private school, it better be the best private school they can get — one that will prepare them for elementary school, high school, college, even graduate school and most importantly for their entire life ahead.
Many believe that a Montessori school is the answer, and of course with good reason. But why? Montessori schools offer much more than the average private school. It’s the Montessori philosophy that makes Montessori schools so appealing and successful. Authentic Montessori schools implement the Montessori Method, named after Dr. Maria Montessori, the innovator, doctor and education pioneer that invented it and propagated it with the first school she opened in Italy back in 1907. The method was rooted in the idea that children are natural and eager learners and need not be forced to learning. This is an idea that was not only revolutionary then, but is still revolutionary for many people now, over 100 years later.
In a traditional classroom, you might see all students in desks learning the very same concepts and at the same pace, from one teacher at the front of the class. A one-size fits all approach. For this reason, in many cases you may observe boredom or less than an enthusiastic desire to be part of the class.
But Montessori’s theory was that this type of behavior has to be learned. She believed young children are naturally inquisitive, and it is only when that natural curiosity is forced into standardized patterns of education, rather than used to ignite and direct their innate love of learning, that students drift off and fail. The Montessori Method is individualized with student-focused, designed to utilize a child’s natural propensity to experiment, discover, create, ask questions and seek help in gaining independent learning skills.