Montessori education is an educational approach developed by Italian physician and educator, Maria Montessori. In 1907 Maria Montessori opened her first classroom, the Casa dei Bambini or Children’s house, in Rome. From the beginning, Montessori based her work on her observations of children and experimentation with the environment, materials, and lessons.
Here are a few things to expect in a Montessori school:
- A prepared environment: beautifully organized classrooms, adapted to the needs of children, stimulate logical thought and discovery.
- The role of the educator: observer and guide. Carefully determining each child’s unique character allows teachers to prepare customized lessons that best suit individual needs.
- Community: mixed-age classrooms encourage collaboration rather than competition and builds confidence as children easily recognize their place in the group.
- Independent work: long uninterrupted activity periods allow children to work at their own pace, explore complex concepts from multiple angles, and develop a wide range of interests.
Montessori education is characterised by an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits and respect for a child’s natural psychological development. The Association Montessori International cite the following elements as essential:
- Mixed age classrooms
- Student choice of activity from within a prescribed range of options
- Uninterrupted blocks of work time
- A constructivism or “discovery” model, where students learn concepts from working with materials rather than by direct instruction
- Specialised educational materials
The Montessori approach is based upon the natural laws of human development. Maria Montessori observed that children under six absorb limitlessly and effortlessly from the world around them and in so doing lay down all the foundations for later in life.
The mixed age group allows the children to develop socially, intellectually and emotionally. It is an essential part of any Montessori School.
In a Montessori School the child is guided by a trained adult who will show them how to do the things they are ready for. Later they can work with the materials independently.
Montessori education is practised in an estimated 20,000 schools worldwide, serving children from birth to eighteen years old.
Principles of Montessori Education
Montessori is about learning to balance responsibility with freedom of choice. It offers children the opportunity to realise their potential in a non-competitive environment and seeks to promote:
- Self-confidence and self-esteem
- A sense of achievement and self-worth
- A sense of responsibility for themselves and their actions
- Independence and adaptability
- Cooperation with others and a sense of community
- Respect for the rights and needs of others
- Initiative and self-motivation
- Concentration and persistence in completing a task
5 Montessori Focus Areas
1. Practical Life Skills
Exercises of Practical Life are introduced to the children so that they are equipped with daily practical life skills. The activities are simple concrete exercises that are familiar to the children as they have seen adults performing them in their daily routines such as pouring water from a jug, spooning pasta from one bowl to another, threading beads etc. The activities are designed to provide real-life experience that assist the children’s coordination and concentration.Exercises of Practical Life develop independence, concentration, self-control and physical co-ordination of the children. When the children are able to perform these exercises, they develop self-respect and self-esteem as they gain finer motor skills and self-control. The children also acquire social awareness that enables them to interact and cooperate with other children when they are working together in the classroom environment
Young children learn about the world around them through the constant use of all their senses. The Sensorial materials and activities are designed to develop the five senses of the children to aid and heighten their senses for learning, and isolate quantities such as colour, form, texture, size, weight, sound, smell and dimensions.The children’s manipulation of the Sensorial materials develop essentials skills such as differentiation, independent, judgement, estimations and exactness of perception and perception of similarities and differences which also assist in laying the foundation for future Mathematics work.
The children learn to read through a series of graded exercises and activities. In the first stage, they learn phonic sounds through various fun activities, recognizing and associating letters with phonic sounds. They then start reading, building and blending words and eventually progress to Consonant Digraphs and Vowel Digraphs. The last stage of reading is the introduction to Early Grammar, Comprehension and Creative Writing.
The Montessori Mathematics apparatus serve as a concrete method where the children learn concepts of mathematics by working on tangible mathematics equipment such as the Montessori Number Rods and Golden Beads just to name a few. The mathematics apparatus help the child with a clear understanding of the four basic mathematical operations (+, – , x, ¸). They gradually progress on to the abstract level of mental calculations and problem sums to prepare them for formal schooling.
Cultural Studies provide the foundation for children to learn about the world around them as it encompasses Science, Geography, Botany, History and General Knowledge. The Cultural materials and topics which the children manipulate and discuss in the classrooms develop their understanding of the world around them.
The key principles include:
- Life education based on respect and love for self, others and the environment
- Educating in the context of the whole child, taking into account the social, emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual aspects
- Developing the human potential
- Making the connection between life and the universe
- Embracing home, school and the greater community as part of the educational approach
- Offering a learning environment of minimal interruptions and interferences
- Nurturing relationships that satisfy the true needs of the child
There are three key components for the optimal Montessori working environment: the prepared environment, the children and the adult.
How to identify a genuine Montessori school?
Montessori schools and teachers are usually affiliated with the American Montessori Society (AMS) or other major Montessori organization, such as AMI, MACTE, and others. Lead teachers at the school should hold a formal credential issued by a recognized Montessori training center. At INNO all our lead teachers hold either an AMI or AMS credential.
To know more about professional Montessori, you can refer to AMI / AMS sites for more resources: