Education should no longer be mostly imparting of knowledge, but must take a new path, seeking the release of human potentialities.
— Maria Montessori
Peace Montessori School’s philosophy adheres to the spirit and practice of Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and educator. The Montessori teaching system is a proven method for success in early childhood education. Due to its focus on low student-teacher ratios and emphasis on high quality specialized teaching materials, it has yet to be adopted by public school systems. Hence, the Montessori method seems a bit mysterious to many.
Here we demystify Montessori by answering some of the more commonly asked questions. Of course, if you have additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Who was Maria Montessori?
Maria Montessori was an Italian physician and educator, the first woman to receive a medical degree in Italy. Born in 1870, she developed her method of education early in this century. She devoted her life to the education of children and was honored and respected throughout the world at the time of her death in 1952.
What is the Montessori Method?
The Montessori Method is an approach to education which emphasizes the potential of the young child and which attempts to develop this potential by means of a prepared environment, utilizing specially trained teachers and special teaching materials.
Why did Maria Montessori develop her special teaching method?
Maria Montessori developed her method because she was so distressed with the usual rigid teaching techniques. Feeling that the young child had more potential than educators realized, she began to develop this potential by a sensorial approach (teaching the young child through their natural interest in exploring the world through their senses).
What is a “sensitive period”?
The term “sensitive period” is Montessori’s name for age periods when the child shows unusual capabilities in acquiring particular skills. A modern name for this phenomenon might be “periods of special readiness to learn certain things.”
What is the Montessori concept of freedom?
Freedom is a goal, not a starting point. A free child (or adult) is one who has developed his potential and prefers to work out problems for oneself but is capable of asking for and receiving direction when necessary. An undisciplined and unskilled child is not free but is a slave to his whims and moods and is excessively dependent on others. The free child, of course, grows into the free adult.
What is the Montessori concept of discipline?
Montessori discipline is an “inner discipline” – control that the child develops over his own behavior through his interest in the Montessori environment and materials. Dr. Montessori noted that many so-called undisciplined children were frustrated by lack of proper stimulation and would become happier and self-controlled after a period of time in a Montessori class.
How does Montessori teaching compare with traditional education?
The goal of both Montessori and traditional preschools is the same: to provide learning experiences for the child. The biggest differences lie in the kind of learning experiences each school provides and the methods they use to accomplish this goal. Montessori educators believe these differences are important because they help shape how a child learns, their work habits and their future attitude towards themselves and the world around them.
- Emphasis on: cognitive and social development
- Teacher has unobtrusive role in classroom
- Environment and method encourage self-discipline
- Mainly individual instruction
- Mixed age grouping
- Grouping encourages children to teach and help each other
- Child chooses work
- Child discovers own concepts from self-teaching tasks
- Child works as long as they wish on chosen project
- Child sets own learning pace
- Child spots own errors from feedback material
- Child reinforces own learning by repetition of work and internal feelings of success
- Multi-sensory materials for physical exploration
- Organized program for learning care of self and environment (serving self food, wiping a table. etc.)
- Child can work where they chose, move around and talk at will (yet not disturb work of others); group work is voluntary
- Organized programs for parents to understand the Montessori philosophy and participate in the learning process.
- Emphasis on: social development
- Teacher is center of classroom
- Teacher acts as primary enforcer of discipline
- Group and individual instruction
- Same age grouping
- Most teaching done by teacher
- Curriculum structured for child
- Child guided to concepts by teacher
- Child generally allotted specific time for work
- Instruction pace usually set by group norm
- If work is corrected, errors usually pointed out by teacher
- Learning is reinforced externally by repetition and rewards
- Fewer materials for sensory development
- Less emphasis on self-care instruction
- Child usually assigned own chair; encouraged to participate, sit still and listen during group sessions
- Voluntary parent involvement
What happens after Montessori?
Parents often wonder what happens after the elementary program. When, how, and to where do children transition out of the Montessori environment? Will your child be prepared for what comes next? How do children do when they leave? These are all common, and valid, questions. The elementary program is divided into two sections, lower (6-9) and upper (9-12) elementary. It is ideal for the child to stay until the end of the cycle, but the reality is that job moves, changes in financial situations, and other factors sometimes necessitate a move sooner than that. We have never had a child have problems after leaving our program. It is our responsibility to be knowledgeable about traditional academic standards and to be sure our students are ready to switch to that arena at any time.
As Montessori teachers our goal is to help the child reach his potential academically, socially, and emotionally. We teach the child responsibility, independence, how to learn, and how to manage his time. All of these skills allow our children to succeed in any setting, whether a small private school, or a large traditional public school. The feedback we have received from students and their parents indicates that the students were well prepared for the next step. In most cases they are ahead of their traditionally educated peers, particularly in math, language, reading comprehension and critical thinking skills. This is supported by our standardized test scores. Our purpose is to help the children become responsible, involved, compassionate, life-long learners, and they carry that with them where ever they go.
Montessori-related resources, information, and articles
- The Montessori Mafia: How a Montessori Approach Nurtures Creativity A 2011 article in the Wall Street Journal suggests that a Montessori education “might be the surest route to joining the creative elite, which are so over-represented by the school’s alumni that one might suspect a Montessori Mafia: Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, video game pioneer Will Wright, and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, not to mention Julia Child and rapper Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs.” What is it about the Montessori approach that nurtures creativity?
- Science Study Shows Montessori Leads Traditional Schooling A 2006 study by a University of Virginia psychologist comparing outcomes of children at a public inner city Montessori school with children who attended traditional schools indicates that Montessori education leads to children with better social and academic skills.
- Is Montessori The Origin of Google and Amazon? Management consultant and Forbes contributor Steve Denning argues that after 100 years, “the world is finally catching up with Maria Montessori’s insights.”
- Montessori Student Discovers New Molecule After a brief introduction to how molecules are formed, a 5th grader at a Kansas City, Missouri, Montessori school created a new molecule, not yet synthesized and unknown to science until now. In a 2012 paper in Computational and Theoretical Chemistry, Robert Zoellner, a Professor in Chemistry at Humboldt State University, confirmed that Clara Lazen’s molecule, tetranitratoxycarbon, had a unique and previously unrecognized structure.
- Montessori: The Missing Voice in the Education Reform Debate An article in the Huffington Post argues that the debate over education reform is missing a critical piece: the Montessori perspective.
- Early Montessori Education Predicts Higher Math and Science Scores A study conducted by the Association Montessori Internationale on the performance of Montessori students when they transition to more traditional academic environments found that attending a Montessori program from around the age of three to eleven predicts significantly higher math and science standardized test scores in high school.