The Montessori Experience

by Rob Campbell on January 21, 2011

Choosing a school for your child can be a difficult one. There are so many options and becoming informed of the types of educational methods will allow you to make the right choice for your child.

Montessori has been around for years and is experiencing an increase in interest. A lot of parents ask the simple question “what is Montessori education?” Well, it’s a holistic approach to education which focuses on strengthening all of the senses. It is a well structured classroom system where children are placed together based on their developmental stages so that they all live up to their inner potential .

The most popular Montessori school consists of the primary class which has children 3-6 years of age. The class is set up so that the children are allowed freedom to move and yet learn within the structure of the classroom environment. Children between the age of 0-6 years of age are considered to be in the ‘absorbent mind’ stage. They soak everything up within their surrounding through all of the senses. The term ‘sponges’ is a good description.

Children need freedom within limits. The opportunity to make decisions based on choices. Sometimes people don’t grasp this concept until they are in adulthood, and some rare individuals never. In the real world, we might not like the choices that are available to us and the consequences. However, we do have the ability to choose what we want to do with our lives or who we want to become. Montessori education focuses on giving children choices and directing them along the way. There are proven studies, and a sense of trust, that we all have the innate desire to learn and progress forward at our own speed.

The classroom works on life skills, social skills, sensory, language, music, geography, culture, mathematics, practical life, and self discipline. According to the Montessori method learning takes place when there is an interest involved. This interest may be expressed in various ways depending on the individual. The role of the Directress/Teacher is to make a careful non objective observation on a consistent basis. Our needs and interests are constantly evolving. Often we desire repetition until we are ready or feel it’s time to move on. The age mixture in one class has many benefits including the more experienced children gain confidence in giving lessons to the younger children.

Montessori education varies from school to school. There are different types of schools and anyone can use the name Montessori.

Dr. Montessori was the first female to become a physician in Italy in 1897. She began to research and develop this pedagogy in 1907. She opened the first ‘Casa dei Bambini’ which is Italian for ‘House of Children’. However, Maria Montessori and her family never patented the name ‘Montessori’. Beware, anyone can use the name for their school or daycare, but the true pedagogy is called
Montessori Association Internationale
, which is AMI accreditation . There are training programs all over the world. Some of the training programs take a lot from the authentic educational system and alter it to it their beliefs and needs.

The Montessori Material

Montessori education is unique due it’s classroom materials. It consists of practical life materials
which can consist of simple activities; such as, cutting paper, folding, pouring water, locks and keys, or sewing on a button. This group of materials focuses on hand and eye coordination and making
practical life activities attractive and fun. The sensorial materials are extremely unique to education. They have a natural order of progression and can be used in various ways. The pink
tower, binomial cube, and geometric shapes excite sensory exploration within the children. The mathematical and language materials speak for themselves and also involve movement and move
from the concrete to the more abstract.

The Benefits of Montessori

Montessori is a method of schooling that focuses on personal development rather than exams. Scientists have found that it produces more mature, creative and socially adept children. Having gone through the traditional school system, and being trained as an Internationally trained Montessori Directress, I have experienced the difference in methods. If you have a couple hours of time, you can find an authentic Montessori school (AMI) and schedule an observation. You will be asked to sit quietly, and become a fly on the wall. Previous to my training, this is where during my observation, I feel in love with the Montessori method. The children were busy working away at their activities independently. There was a natural humming of interaction in the room. The noise level did not get out of control. There was large amount of self control for such little people. Most of all the classroom Directress was not necessarily teaching, but quietly observing children and gracefully moving around giving gentle guidance to all of the children. Researching online is another option worthwhile because there are many benefits to Montessori Education. I suggest you explore the educational methods out there to determine if they fit with your goals for educating your child.

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Sheryl Tips January 21, 2011 at 9:33 pm

I must say that I did not know that Dr. Montessori was the first female doctor in Italy in 1897, but I do know that the summer of 97 was also the height of the Klondike Gold Rush.

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