What is Montessori?
Imagine observing a classroom where the students are actively engaged in their work, purposefully moving about the room, quietly speaking with their teachers and peers, and independently cleaning up after themselves. This is what you will see if you visit a Montessori classroom. People new to Montessori often wonder in amazement, “how is this possible?” The answer lies within the Montessori Method.
The Montessori Method was developed by Maria Montessori, Italy’s first female physician, in the late 1800s. Through her keen observations, Dr. Montessori developed a method of education based on the developmental needs of children. The key elements in a Montessori education include:
- Montessori provides a child-centered learning environment where children are seen as individuals who are growing and developing at their own pace.
- Children have natural curiosities and desires to learn. Montessori faculty nurture this love of learning!
The Planes of Development
The curriculum is based on three planes of human development. The environment and lessons are designed with the child’s intellectual, social, emotional, and moral development in mind.
- First Plane (Birth to Six) – Children are sensorial learners who absorb the world around them through their six senses.
- Second Plane (Six to Twelve) – Children are conceptual learners who explore the world around them asking the questions of how and why.
- Third Plane (Twelve to Fifteen) – Adolescents are humanistic learners who want to understand their place in the world and how to make a contribution to it.
The Prepared Environment
- Specifically designed materials allow children to learn for themselves.
- The indoor and outdoor classrooms are beautiful, and allow for freedom of movement.
- Three-year cycles allow students to take on many different roles within the multi-age class; both follower and leader. They become cooperative learners who understand how to work effectively within a group. The three-year cycle provides stability and fosters a deep bond between child, director, and class.
- The Montessori teacher is a highly trained professional who focuses on the ‘whole child’ through observation, preparation of the environment, and delivery of key lessons.
- The teacher is a facilitator of a child’s learning; careful not to get in the way of children learning and discovering for themselves.
- Montessori held the belief that education is the most powerful and effective way to transform society.
- Children are taught to respect themselves and others as individuals with different views and perspectives.
- Children are taught to be stewards of the environment.