What is Montessori method?
Maria Montessori never set out to make a system of education. Rather, her methods of teaching evolved from her observations of the children in her care. She observed that the child absorbs from the environment she is in, and using specially designed materials she was able to call to the child’s inner desire to learn. These materials are presented in small groups, frequently on the floor, encouraging individual hands-on participation, and peer problem-solving dialogue. The child is allowed certain freedom to be independent within the highly sequenced structure of the Montessori Method. Control of error is built into manipulative materials and charts, encouraging self-confidence and independence.
Primarily, the purpose of the Montessori method is to provide an environment where the innate abilities of the child can unfold spontaneously, encouraging the development of the person within, allowing the child to achieve his greatest potential. Maria Montessori stated, “the child is the father of the man.” As the child develops his inner self, a love of life and learning follows naturally.
How is Montessori different from other pre-schools/ Day care centers?
In the conventional form of education, teacher’s role is dominant and active whereas child is a passive participant. This passivity can never contribute to achieving the goal. However, in Montessori System Teacher’s role is unobtrusive and the child actively participates in learning. It is only through the active participation of a child that the dream of mental growth can be lived. Similarly, there is an emphasis on cognitive structures and social development in the Montessori System.
There are various minute but not minor aspects which are generally ignored, both by the teachers as well as parents. A child, unlike the orthodox form of schooling, must be allowed and encouraged to teach, collaborate and help other students. It would not only clear his own concepts about the subject but will also add to his confidence. It is generally seen that teachers themselves take this role and do not let children explain the subject to other children. Similarly, a child must be allowed, as long as he wants, to work and must not be forced to work without will.
When should I start my child in Montessori?
Montessori was herself amazed at the abilities of young children two and three years old. In her environments she discovered that they were able to absorb concrete materials using all their senses simultaneously, a unique ability soon lost. She called these times of special absorption “Sensitive Periods”, and developed specific materials for that time. As the child grows these periods change, yet the continuum is set in motion for the rest of the child’s life. Therefore, the early years are the most important, yet most neglected in many societies. Starting a child at 2 1/2 in a good Montessori environment with well-trained Director and teachers can have results that will remain with the child all his life.
What is the benefit of a multi-age classroom?
The mixed age grouping of a Montessori environment is a huge part of what makes the dynamics of the environment successful. It allows the children to learn from each other. The older children love to share their knowledge and it enables the younger ones to learn from them. The older students are tremendous role models for the younger children and by watching the older children, the younger ones strive to challenge themselves and look forward to future activities and presentations. It is so special watching a five year old trying to teach a three year old how to do something, such as roll up a floor mat in a neat and tidy manner or build the Pink Tower with the largest cube on the bottom and the smallest cube on the top. The look of pride on the face of the older child and the bond that occurs between the two children is truly amazing. The older children learn to be helpful, patient and tolerant of their classmates and they are often wonderful mediators and companions to another child in need.
The mixed age grouping of a Montessori environment contributes to the development of a caring community which is what the Montessori philosophy is all about! Additionally, children in a Montessori pre/kg classroom are often with the same teacher for several years as they begin at age 2½ – 3 and remain with that teacher through their kindergarten year. It really allows the teacher to fully understand each child’s learning style and developmental level, build on their strengths and weaknesses, and overall, just build a relationship with each child that is so very special!
How will my child transition out of Montessori into another type of school?
This is the most frequently asked question of most people seeking information regarding Montessori learning. Changing from one environment to another takes self-confidence and patience. Different children respond differently to change. Most children adjust well to the transfer from Montessori to other private or public schools when their self esteems are high. Statistically, those who are in Montessori classrooms longest tend to make the adjustment more smoothly. They usually enter their new environments with a positive, flexible confidence following their experience with, and nurturing of, a real love of learning.
Moreover, our curriculum was designed by incorporating the local and state core curriculums into our teaching, thereby creating grade standards which we follow as a basis for advancement.
What’s the benefit of full day program vs half days and 5 days vs 3 day programs?
We feel that it is important to keep the child’s schedule as consistent as possible. Our past experience shows that children who attend less than five days tend to have a much harder time transitioning into and settling into their day. They also have a harder time developing relationships. In addition, we do many of our curriculum lessons in group settings and as a result children who are not here consistently tend to miss many of these lessons and do not get the full value of the education we offer.