This post is going to probably come in a few parts, so I would like to list here the topics that I plan to cover throughout them.
-What is Montessori?
-Why do I feel like sharing what I know?
-How you can incorporate Montessori within your home, based on the age of your child.
-Websites that I recommend.
-Using Montessori in a home-school/day care environment.
-Lessons that I have created over the years that you can use.
Montessori in 10 words or less:
2. Hands on
3. No (pencil/paper) Tests (yes I know that’s not one word!)
4. Self paced
7. Whole Child
8. Peer tutoring
9. Self expression
10. Collaborative work
Montessori is simply an educational program that prepares children for life instead of a learning of facts.
What is Montessori?
Wow do I get asked that a lot! After teaching at a Montessori school I can honestly say that I talk about it more often than I probably should. I am dedicated to the Montessori method of learning and I truly believe when it is done correctly it works! Below is a brief(ish) description of Montessori:
There are soooo many books, articles, and websites that discuss the Montessori method and where it began, however, if you aren’t an educator you may not be interested in reading something quite that in depth. Therefore, I am going to try to do a brief explanation that comes from a teacher and a parents perspective. Those of you that have been reading my blog all along know that I sometimes ramble so this may not end up as short and sweet as I plan lol
Okay, here goes nothing. Montessori is put quite simply a method of teaching. This method focuses on the child as an individual instead of a group of children. There are several key aspects of the Montessori method that are important to remember:
One of my favorite aspects of the Montessori method is that it is self paced and self education. Anyone that has ever been around a child knows that they have an innate curiosity about the world that they live in. They want to learn, discover, and explore! Montessori classrooms encourage children to do just that! Children are placed in a prepared environment in which they are given the tools they need to learn. The environment responds to each child’s need to learn and grow by exposing them to materials, experiences, and lessons that stimulate their intelligence and promote their physical and psychological development. The children are allowed to MOVE AT THEIR OWN PACE! There are NO “tests” as we know them. In a Montessori classroom there are lessons that the children must master before they can move on to the next. These lessons act as the tests. The adult in the classroom will observe the children while they are completing lessons and guide them where they feel that they are needed.
One of the things I hated about being in a traditional classroom was that every student was expected to be on the same page doing the exact same thing. Who cares if little Johnny is bored with this and ready to move on while little Suzy can’t figure it out. As a teacher this always frustrated me! We claim that “no child is left behind” while honestly children were left behind every day in every classroom. In a Montessori classroom the instruction is the epitome of individualized instruction! Almost all instruction takes place on a one-on-one basis. This allows the adult to become familiar with and nurture each child’s style of learning. When a group lesson must be done, each child is given their own didactic materials to use and is not pressured into conforming to the groups pace. Each lesson is short, concise, and direct. They are aimed at enhancing the child’s self worth and boost their confidence in their ability to learn.
Didactic materials are an imperative part of the Montessori classroom. Didactic materials are simply those instructive materials a child uses to self-educate. Each and every material/lesson placed in a Montessori classroom has a purpose. These materials gradually move from simple to complex, each piece or set is designed to provide the child with a certain experience and then gradually lead them on to more complicated tasks. If a material is in a Montessori environment then it should be designed in a way that encourages the child to use it on their own. No material should be set up to be constantly used with an adult.
The prepared environment is very important. Where a child is expected to learn should be set up and prepared in such a way that the child is guided to make free and intelligent choices. All materials are placed within the child’s reach and the environment should be bright and comprised of living things such as plants and pets which even the youngest child should learn to care for. Children are grouped in three year cycles: infant to 18 months, 18 months to 3 years, 3 years to 6 years, 6 years to 9 years, 9 years to 12 years and so forth. By setting the classrooms up in this manner children are encouraged to learn from one another. Older children become role models to their younger counterparts. It also creates a feeling of security and family as the learners stay with the adult for a longer period of time.
A Montessori classroom is set up into different areas (Practical life, Sensorial, Math, Language, and Cultural, which encompasses many areas.) and the children get to choose what they would like to learn at what time. The teacher will make sure that the student is exploring a variety of areas throughout the day, however, it is not required that they study in every area every day. Most classrooms have some sort of schedule set up so that the children know, without being told daily, what they must accomplish that week.
Everything inside of a Montessori classroom has a purpose. There are no teacher desks, areas, tables, etc. Everything is for the child and therefor is their size!
Okay, so I’m not sure how successful I was in explaining Montessori without going into great detail. I hope that this makes sense and gives you an idea of what you would see in a Montessori classroom. Please let me know if you would like more information or if anything I said doesn’t seem to make sense. I have read and re-read this post and I’m still not sure if I did it right! Guess the only way to know for sure is to hit that Publish button and let you guys decide!
Montessori Part 2 will come soon and cover Why I feel like sharing what I know about Montessori.